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Published 14 April 2021

It was with predictable inevitability that just as we were finally able to meet friends and family in the garden, the winter returned with a vengeance, but not withstanding this week’s sub-zero temperature and flurries of snow, spring is here. 

This is a time of year when the importance of a garden always comes to the fore, and even more so this year, given that we have been largely confined to our homes for many months, and that our gardens are going to be the centre of our social lives at least for the next few weeks.

In the residential sales market, much store is put on how big a factor a wow-factor garden can be in attracting a buyer, but many landlords underestimate the importance of a suitable outside space when it comes to attracting tenants – and that has never been truer.

However, whilst potential homeowners are willing to invest time and effort in creating and maintaining an outside space which might win prizes at the Chelsea Flower Show, tenants have rather different priorities – and it’s important to understand what these are.

Whilst tenants certainly want outdoor space to enjoy, with enough room for a patio table and chairs, big is not necessarily beautiful when it comes to rental property gardens.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that big gardens and tenants seldom make good bedfellows.

Aside from making sure it’s safe (so well-maintained walls, no loose patio slabs, and no garden ponds), the key thing for the landlord is to make the rental garden easy to maintain.  That means no intricate flower beds – just a lawn for a family home, or even a simple courtyard if you are aiming at younger tenants.  Everyone wants a visually-appealing outdoor space, but it shouldn’t be too much work to keep it that way.

In my career I have only ever seen two or three gardens of rental properties where I have been able to admire the professional way tenants have maintained the garden; for most, it is a chore, and one which they will do with less commitment than if it was their own.

Most tenancy agreements stipulate that tenants are responsible for maintaining the garden (and at the end of the tenancy the landlord can expect it to be handed back in broadly the same state as it was at the start of the tenancy), but realistically that is going to mean mowing the lawn, weeding, trimming hedges – and not much else.

With the changes in the way we live over the past year, an attractive outdoor space is increasingly important for many tenants.  Just understand that few will want to invest hours in gardening when that space isn’t actually theirs.

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Catherine Hunt

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