It’s easy to be confused regarding the responsibility for a rental property’s garden. Here is an outline of everyone’s responsibilities according to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, tenants are responsible for keeping the property reasonably tidy and clean until the end of their tenancy – this includes the garden. Unless the landlord states otherwise in the tenancy agreement, tenants are only expected to mow the lawn and weed the garden. If a tenant wants to do more to the garden, they must first receive written consent from the landlord before removing or pruning trees, shrubs or hedges on the property. Note that if a well presented lawn is neglected during the tenancy, mowing it at the end of the tenancy will not bring it back to its original state, as weeds and wild grass will have set in. Better is to state on the tenancy agreement the frequency of mowing required and inspect the lawn regularly.
Landlords are responsible for any other gardening required other than mowing and weeding, such as pruning and removing trees, shrubs, and hedges, as some plants may require special care, skill, or knowledge. This is enforced to protect tenant interests, because under law tenants are responsible for any damage to the property they may cause intentionally or carelessly to the property, meaning if the tenant damages a hedge or tree, they may be required to compensate the landlord for the loss. Landlords are also responsible for ensuring the property is safe under the Residential Tenancies Act, which includes making sure all the trees, hedges and shrubs are safe, away from power lines, and not likely to fall on tenants.
Plan To Hire A Gardener?
Are you thinking about hiring a gardener? Check to make sure you understand what their service options actually entail, as there can be misunderstandings on what is involved and excluded. For example, their ‘maintaining the garden’ service may only include mowing, trimming hedges and weeding, but not looking after the plants and flowers. Be specific about what is the gardener’s responsibility. Also ensure your advertising mentions that the gardens and lawns are maintained by a gardener. This is a good selling point and could weigh in your favour with tenants trying to decide between several properties.
If you believe you have reasonable grounds to prove your tenants are not upholding their responsibilities on maintaining your Wellington investment property, look on the Tenancy Services website for more information.