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    31st March 2022

    Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) Report Indicates Confusion Around Garden Maintenance

    Preparing your garden for viewings is landlord 101, but with few tenancy agreements including a garden clause, are landlords simply preparing a cause of future dispute in doing so?

    Since the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor spaces have become a major factor in the decision-making process for tenants during their property search, but a recent poll by the TDS has found that landlords and property agents are unsure as to whom the responsibility falls for upkeep.

    What the poll says

    According to the annual statistical briefing from the TDS, Gardening has been among the top five causes of deposit disputes for the better part of a decade and has been a reason for dispute in around 15% of cases throughout that time.

    Source: TDS

    As a result, the TDS polled more than 2000 landlords and letting agents (combined) to measure the general attitudes of the sector regarding garden maintenance. While the results aren’t exactly surprising, with around three quarters of respondents placing the responsibility solely on the tenant, what was shocking was how many of those surveyed did not provide detail as to what is required of tenants in this respect – with 46% not providing any details at all.

    Source: TDS

    Most common causes of dispute

    The TDS poll also details the common causes of garden related issues which led to a deposit dispute. 27% of landlords surveyed had raised a dispute of which the following were the most common complaints:

    • 75% were listed as ‘allowing weeds to grow’
    • 41% were listed as ‘damage to fencing’
    • 68% were listed as ‘overgrown lawns’
    • 65% were listed as ‘tenant did not trim back trees or bushes’

    Lack of inspection

    Despite this, a fifth of landlords do not carry out a mid-tenancy inspection of outdoor areas – missing the opportunity to address problems early and the possibility of avoiding a dispute altogether.

    Source: TDS

    What this means for Wirral landlords

    The main consideration when setting up a tenancy agreement should be clarity for all parties. While section C of the Model Agreement for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy includes reference to the garden and a tenants obligations, landlords should be making certain that the agreements they are using detail the expectations for upkeep clearly. The agreement should offer guidance on upkeep, while the landlord should also ensure that communication is maintained during the tenancy as this will help to avoid unnecessary disputes.

    For this reason, we recommend including gardens and outdoor spaces in your property and inventory reports and ensuring that, whether or not you’re using the Model Agreement for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, that your initial contract is clear about the responsibilities of each party – as this will avoid the majority of disputes and quickly settle the rest.

    Want help navigating the rapidly changing regulatory landscape, or need someone to take the stress out of managing a property portfolio? Contact Us today to see what we can do to help.

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    Calculations generated by Zoopla Comparables report, from a 3-12 month period within 1 mile radius of each location.

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