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Can landlords and tenants collaborate on gardening?

By Kate Major

Garden care can be a contentious subject for landlords and tenants. With each party often renouncing their responsibilities resulting in unkept gardens. What if there was a way to progressively bridge this eternal conflict. First let’s cover why there should be an effort to establish and maintain a garden.

Why have a beautiful well-maintained garden?

For landlords:

  • It keeps neighbours happy
  • Has a positive influence on property value
  • Attracts quality tenants
  • Reduces unexpected expenses
  • Inspires neighbours to improve their properties

For tenants:

  • Provides a nice enjoyable space
  • Makes the space feel safer
  • Improves mood
  • Inspires involvement, offering an opportunity for physical exercise
  • Promotes social activity
  • Attracts wildlife – birds & bees
  • Impresses your guests
  • Education/learning
  • Provides healthy fresh food
  • Creates an enjoyable safe environment for kids to play

Who is responsible to maintain the garden?

The Residential Tenancies Act of 1986 specifies tenants are only responsible for mowing the lawn and weeding the garden. That’s a bit boring. For the reasons mentioned above it’s in the landlord’s best interest to have well-presented and maintained gardens for their properties. But how do landlords inspire and motivate tenants to keep the garden looking like it belongs at Blenheim Palace? Well let’s first examine the barriers.

What are some of the barriers?

For landlords:

  • Cost
  • Perceived low return on investment
  • Time poor
  • Low priority

For tenants:

  • Cost
  • Time poor
  • Lack of equipment

A common theme here is cost and time. The time component shouldn’t be such an issue for tenants during the summer periods when the daylight hours stretch well into those warm summer evenings. Gardening being an enticing activity during those times. The cost factor of purchasing tools can be prohibitive for some tenants. Tenants may question why they should invest in gardening tools when they don’t own the property. Landlords may benefit by providing tenants with the basic tools for gardening maintenance, with the initial outlay matching the cost of hiring a gardener but receiving a better return on investment by getting long term garden upkeep for no ongoing cost. If the landlord has multiple rental properties, then investment in more serious gardening power tools might be warranted. The tools being lent out to tenants when the occasion permits. This brings us to our next question.

Why not just hire a gardener?

Having the tenant tend to the garden encourages the development of a personal attachment to the property, thus increasing respect and tenancy longevity. It’s also a gesture of trust by the landlord to the tenant, further boosting landlord tenant relationships. Not to mention this arrangement also avoids the expense of a hired gardener.

As you can see there are many benefits to collaborating when it comes to garden duties. Many tenants love the idea of having their own garden, especially if it provides them with fresh healthy food, but they may hesitate to start a discussion. Perhaps, if landlords approached their tenants with an offer of being involved in the establishment and upkeep of a garden, along with tools, we’ll see an uptake of tenant involvement. Setting in motion a sort of green guardianship for their properties.

Photo by Filip Urban on Unsplash.

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