Rented garden: what are your rights?

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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When it comes to gardening, there’s nothing like a bit of creativity to make digging around in dirt more pleasurable. Deciding which flowers to plant where, starting your own herb garden from scratch, perhaps even adding a water feature? Who knew that therapy could be this much fun? 

However, being in charge of a rental garden (as in the garden that came with your house/apartment that you’re renting) does put some constraints on your green fingers. As that lawn or patch of ground is not legally your possession, you, unfortunately, are a bit restricted with conjuring up your own wonderland / jungle / whatever theme you were planning on. 

But just how much are you allowed (and not allowed) to do with your rental garden? Does mowing the lawn count as your responsibility or the owner’s? And what if you want to add some nice patio furniture to spruce up that garden space – do you send the bill to your landlord?

Let’s see what your rights are…

Small and simple tasks

Open-Plan Kitchen/Living Room, Ladbroke Walk, London : modern Garden by Cue & Co of London
Cue & Co of London

Open-Plan Kitchen/Living Room, Ladbroke Walk, London

Cue & Co of London

A garden is quite a bit more than a canvas where you can express your love for plant prettification. It requires general work that is not always that much fun – work such as mowing the lawn, diminishing weeds, raking up those leaves, etc. All of this is necessary in order to ensure a clean and presentable garden space – but whose responsibility is it? 

As a general rule, the appropriate regulations when it comes to garden work are usually stipulated in the lease agreement drawn up between landlord and occupant. But should it not dictate anything regarding garden maintenance, the owner usually becomes responsible for its upkeep. 

This includes small and general tasks that don’t require too much technical knowledge or experience, like trimming hedges, in order to keep the garden visually pleasing. And having the rental contract state that the tenant is responsible for garden work only includes these small, essential responsibilities.

However, when it comes to more substantial costs and tasks, like the felling of a tree or supplying fertiliser, the onus shifts to the landlord. The only exception to this rule is when the lease agreement stipulates that the tenant has committed to taking over these tasks. 

Better have a good, long look at that lease agreement, then!

Gardening tools

Conjuring up a garden that resembles paradise is surely going to require some tools. Rakes, shears, hand weeder, wheel barrow… they were all designed to make garden work much more easier (and much more fun), yet they still cost a pretty penny when opting for top-of-the-range equipment. So then, who gets tasked with paying the bill?

Simple: the one who is responsible for the garden upkeep. If the gardening becomes the responsibility of the tenant, then he/she must fork out for the necessary tools. Fortunately, small tasks like pruning and watering don’t require an extreme budget, and the necessary equipment for these tasks can be purchased relatively easily and cost-effectively.  

Likewise, expenses that become the responsibility of the landlord (like tree felling) will be covered by the relevant party.

Regular gardening maintenance

Large family garden: modern Garden by Garden Arts
Garden Arts

Large family garden

Garden Arts

We all know the joys of life’s responsibilities – working, making sure the kids get to school, settling the vet’s bills, etc. Obviously your landlord knows that your life consists of so much more than 9-5, and that maintaining a 100% ideal garden is not always at the top of your to-do list. 

That is why the landlord has no right to knock on your door at 2am, demanding to know why your shrubs have not been trimmed. Forgetting to rake the leaves or not pruning those rose bushes is a natural occurrence, and something that your landlord cannot hold against you.

However, the onus still lies on you to maintain that garden space – albeit not on a daily basis, but still in a timely fashion to ensure that it does not start to resemble the Amazon jungle. 

As soon as overgrown weeds, long grass and dying plants become an eyesore, your landlord will demand some gardening TLC from your side – with the utmost right.

When it comes to plants

Those who view gardening as much more than just a pastime, and who grow quite attached to their selections of daffodils and roses, can have a hard time leaving them behind as soon as their lease expires and it becomes time to move out. But just what are your rights regarding this heartbreak? 

According to the law, any plants and small trees planted and nurtured by the tenant during their stay may be taken along upon departure. But should you want to take shrubs, bushes or other plants with you that were present when you moved in, you need your landlord’s permission before unearthing them. 

And should you want to add a few flower- and vegetable beds to make your garden more homey? Feel free to do so, as you don’t need your landlord’s permission – just be sure to keep them in neat condition.

Hiring an expert

As said before, we know that life can get a bit challenging at times. So what are your options when those long working hours and/or busy social life leave you with no time whatsoever to pick up a garden rake? 

Hiring professional gardeners to come in and do general chores to keep your garden looking neat and pretty is your utmost right. And the costs? It will simply form part of the general maintenance expenses. 

homify hint: It might sound like an old wives’ tale that talking to plants helps them grow, yet there is truth in it. Studies have shown that vibration (such as music, or even the sweet sound of your voice) can affect plant growth. But should you not be blessed with an award-winning song voice, rather commit to simple chattering or switching the radio on for your flowers.

Bringing in screens

There is so much more to a pretty garden than planting a few flower beds and adding some coloured stones. When you really want to spruce up that floral paradise, you can also consider bringing in some striking fences or garden walls.

But before you rush off to your nearest nursery, know this: adding these separation screens counts as structural alteration, and cannot be implemented without your landlord’s permission. So, be sure to have a talk first and make use you both agree to these changes.

After that, enjoy making your garden one of the most beautiful and fanciful places in your neighbourhood! 

All clear on the rules? Now, let’s focus on: Readying Your Garden For Spring.

Gardening: a waste of time or some excellent therapy? What are your thoughts? We'd love to hear them in the comments!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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