Does your HMO property have a garden? If so, this can be a definite positive as far as a tenant is concerned. Who doesn’t dream of sitting out the back on a patio-type area with a glass of wine of a summer’s evening, for instance? And again, not all of us want to head to the public park for a bit of sunbathing.
Then again, a garden does come with a lot of upkeep. Are you going to hire a gardener or expect your tenants to pitch in maintenance-wise? This is certainly something to consider when it comes to renting out your HMO property – or even purchasing it in the first place.
Certainly, in the case of an HMO it can be a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to expecting your tenants to keep the garden in order. Squabbles over whose turn it is to mow the lawn instantly spring to mind, for instance.
So what are the alternatives?
Hire a gardener
Unless you’re happy about the garden for your HMO becoming a weed-filled wilderness for all the neighbour’s to primly shake their heads at then it’s probably a good idea to hire a local gardener. You could get him or her to come in every fortnight or so during the summer months and maybe once a month during winter. Let’s face it, with an HMO it’s going to be difficult to get that garden done.
Then again, you could always try putting a clause into your tenancy agreement but, unless you have a family living in your property or a group of students who all get on well, we’re not convinced the desire to keep the garden maintained is going to be a priority (even if it does mean losing out financially) – especially for students who are focused on final exams during the spring and summer months.
If you do decide to go ahead with the clause option in your lease then it could take the form of some of the deposit being held back unless the garden is maintained (it’s perfectly legal to do this).
If you do decide to hire a gardener then you could put the cost of this onto the rent for tenants.
Is it reasonable to expect my tenants to garden?
If the garden belongs to your property only then yes, it’s a perfectly reasonable request to ask the tenants of that property to maintain it. This could involve mowing the lawn on a regular basis during the summer (you’d have the supply the mower, of course) and even dead-heading some flowers (if they have the know-how). Some tenants will actually appreciate the chance to garden and it could prove a huge selling point in your favour). Could you ask them to trim the hedges? Yes, but again only if you supply a hedge trimmer – they’re not going to go out and buy one specially!
It’s certainly not unreasonable to ask your tenants to keep the garden area clear of litter. In fact, a failure to do so could result in a visit from the council’s environmental health department and this is the kind of scenario you, as a decent landlord, definitely want to avoid. No-one wants mice or rats running about in the garden, for instance, because it would be far too easy for them to enter your property next. And then you have the additional cost of having to call in a pest control team!
Social housing tenants
If your tenants comprise of individuals who are there as social housing tenants then it could be a whole different ball game. That’s because they would be obliged to keep the garden to a “satisfactory standard.” However, in order to assure this you would have to more or less hand over your property for a social housing association to run. Then again, that may not necessarily be a bad thing because it would certainly cut back on admin for yourself.
As you can see from the above the whole question of garden maintenance isn’t an easy one. However, it is something that needs to be sorted out prior to a tenancy beginning. For help on matters such as this and other issues relating to HMO properties feel free to contact us here for advice at Property Go-To Girl. We’ll certainly be able to help out where we can.
I'm Jacquie the Property Go-To Girl. I am passionate about property. I love to help people make the most out of their property investments!