Do you live in a rented property that has a garden? If you do take care that what you do with it doesn’t lead to a dispute over your deposit when you leave.
Apparently, a lot of deposit disputes are over what a tenant has or hasn’t done to the garden. Make sure when you’re signing a tenancy agreement it has clauses which cover a garden, patio or entrance point.
The agreement should set out the areas that are the responsibility of the landlord. It should also state which areas the tenant is expected to maintain.
It’s a good idea to be specific in the agreement. Rather than stating the garden must be kept tidy, detail what is expected. The agreement could list weeding, watering plants and sweeping away leaves for example.
Finally, the agreement should outline how the garden needs to look at the end of the tenancy.Permission
It’s also important to ask the landlord’s permission to make any changes in the garden. If you want to add decking or erect a gazebo, even if you want to put in a garden shed it’s best to ask first.
Get the agreement from your landlord in writing with a statement confirming that your deposit won’t be affected. If you don’t get permission, then you could have a problem when you leave. The decking you put in might be lovely, but if the landlord doesn’t want it he can charge you to have it removed. Or, he could keep your deposit towards the removal costs.
When you first move into the property take photographs in the garden so that you can see its condition and get your landlord to agree that the pictures are how the garden looks on that date. This means that if there is any dispute in the future you have photographic evidence to help your case.
Disputes can be dealt with by the scheme that is holding your deposit. There are three deposit schemes available currently. They are:
- Deposit Protection Service
- My Deposits
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Each scheme has a dispute resolution service. An adjudicator from whichever scheme is used, will examine the evidence. Then they will decide who gets the deposit, the landlord or the tenant.
When you pay your deposit and sign your tenancy agreement your landlord has 30 days to let you know which deposit scheme has been used. You should also be given details of its dispute resolution service.
If you don’t hear from your landlord, you can contact each one of the schemes and they will confirm whether they are holding your money.
A landlord who hasn’t paid into a deposit scheme can be taken to the County Court. They can be ordered to pay back the deposit or put the money into a scheme within 14 days. It could also affect the end of your tenancy. A Court may decide you don’t need to leave the property when your tenancy ends if your deposit wasn’t paid into a protection scheme.