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Case Study – Garden Maintenance

Deposit Value: £150
Dispute details: The garden was left in an unsatisfactory state at the end of the tenancy, with overgrown shrubs, weeds and the lawn in need of mowing.
Key topics: Clause in AST relating to the upkeep of garden, check-in and check-out reports compiled by a professional inventory firm.

Case Details

The tenant moved into the property in 2007 and lived there for almost four years.  The property had several
garden beds and a lawn.  The AST contained a clause stating the tenant was obliged to keep the garden, driveway
and paths around the premises clean and tidy, to mow the lawns as necessary, to ensure garden beds were kept
weed-free, and shrubs and hedges maintained.  When the tenant moved out, the garden was in a poor state, with
untidy gardens and the lawn not mown.

Evidence

The landlord submitted check-in and check-out reports compiled by an independent inventory company.  The
reports were accompanied by detailed and digitally dated photographs of the garden, clearly showing its condition before and after the tenancy.  Invoices from a gardening company for mowing the lawn, weeding the garden and tidy up hedges and shrubs were submitted, totalling £150.  The tenant asserted that much of the growth was not weeds, but untidy self-seeding plants.

Adjudicator’s Findings

The adjudicator found that the tenant had breached at AST clause obliging them to keep the garden, driveway and lawns clean and tidy.  The detailed inventory from a professional inventory company, along with photos, clearly demonstrated the deterioration in the state of the garden.  Invoices supplied by the landlord showed the cost incurred to have the garden tidied, proving the loss suffered by the landlord. 

Key points from the case

• Ensure all properties with a garden contain a clause in the AST detailing the tenant’s obligations to keep it
  neat and tidy. Alternatively, arrange for a regular gardening and lawn mowing service and factor this cost
  into the rent.

• Provide a detailed check-in inventory with clear photos, including outside areas of the property, preferably
  done by a professional third party as these tend to be more detailed and are carried out by qualified
  individuals. Ensure it is signed by the tenant.

• Keep invoices for any gardening company used to tidy up a garden at the start, if appropriate, and end of a
  tenancy.

• Carry out regular inspections of the property, to ensure the garden is being maintained especially over a
  lengthy tenancy.

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