How landlords can minimise dispute over external maintenance
Maintenance of gardens, lawns, and pools continue to be a common cause of dispute between landlords and tenants. How can these issues be avoided?
According to Eezirent’s Diane Bukowski, landlords are often concerned about the capacity and willingness of tenants to maintain gardens, lawns, and swimming pools.
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Aside from the lack of 'personal attachment' to the landscape, knowledge and equipment—or the lack thereof—are also among the factors that contribute to conflicts, the property professional highlighted.
She explained: “Believe it or not … some tenants don’t know what weeds are and have no idea that they have to be removed.”
“A tenant should be able to get their hands on a mower—they can be hired from most service stations these days. However, how many tenants have hoes, rakes or shovels?” Ms Bukowski added.
Moreover, the cost of maintenance can also be an issue. Since some tenants are charged for water consumption, they might hold back on watering the gardens and lawns.
To avoid conflicts, Ms Bukowski strongly encouraged open and honest communication between landlords and tenants even before the start of the lease.
Should it be decided that the tenants will be responsible for external maintenance, here are some of her tips for a smooth and efficient process:
1. Build “easy-care gardens”
Instead of flowers, incorporate perennial shrubs, Ms Bukowski advised.
She said: “Nurseries can advise on hardy low maintenance, drought tolerant varieties.”
2. Make sure that beds are thickly mulched with long-lasting materials
This step will not only make the property look more attractive, but will also reduce weed growth and promotes water conservation, according to the property professional.
She highlighted the importance of using high-quality materials because mulch decomposing is categorised as fair wear and tear'.
“You can’t ask a tenant to remulch garden beds at exit,” Ms Bukowski explained.
3. Include detailed notes and photographs in the Entry Condition Report
4. Conduct routine inspection
Inspections can serve as a gentle reminder to tenants about their responsibility to maintain the property, so don’t wait until the end of the lease to do it, the property professional said.
According to her: “Include the gardens and lawns in your routine inspection report. Act at that point if the tenant is not maintaining them. Don’t wait until the end of the lease.”
5. Include instruction sheets on lawn and garden maintenance in the sign-up documents
Aside from the tips she provided, Ms Bukowski also encouraged landlords to include lawn and pool maintenance costs in the rent to avoid conflicts down the road.
“This is easily done by calculating the annual cost of these services then dividing by 52 to arrive at a weekly figure. This amount can then be added to the rent,” she explained.
These expenses, particularly pool care, are tax deductions for the landlord, so it will best to take care of it by yourself instead of passing on the responsibility to the tenants.
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