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Preparing your property for photographs – 3 steps to the ‘perfect’ shot

They say a picture paints a thousand words but actually, when it comes to selling your home, a picture could make you thousands of pounds.

In the UK, 92% of homebuyers find photos extremely helpful in making buying decisions and research from the US revealed that your property will sell 32% faster with good photography – and the faster it sells, the closer to the asking price you are likely to get.

With property photos being the first marketing touch point with potential buyers in print and online, it’s important you make your home as visually attractive as it can be.

So, how can you get your property Instagram-ready while striking the right balance between selling a lifestyle and creating a sterile home devoid of personality?  Here’s our top 3 pointers:-

 

  • Declutter inside and out

 

An exterior image is often the lead on any property listing, so you must try to give the best possible first impression.

If you own a house and its grounds, it’s much easier. Tidy up any debris and mess, including children’s toys and bikes, move bins out of sight and cars off the driveway. Replace dead hanging baskets with fresh ones, and give the windows and doors a good clean. Mow lawns, weed flower beds and trim shrubs for extra neatness. 

If you live in a flat where the exterior is not your responsibility, try to ensure photos are arranged for just after the windows are cleaned, bins collected and gardens tended to.

Inside, put as much clutter away as you can – basically anything that signals day-to-day living. Piles of shoes and drying umbrellas inside the porch are a no-go, as are coats on the banister, laundry in the utility room, toys and week-old newspapers on the arm of the sofa.

Temporarily clear away small kitchen appliances like toasters and kettles, and ensure kitchen clutter, such as tea towels, oven gloves and cleaning products, are safely stored under the sink (ideally along with your fridge magnet collection).

Upstairs, ensure beds are made, yesterday’s washing is out of sight and your animal print eye mask is hidden under your pillow. In the bathrooms, wipe mirrors free of dried toothpaste and neatly fold towels – preferably ones that complement the colour scheme. Only leave out your smartest toiletries and ensure your loo brush is hidden, or at least clean.

 

  • Maximise space and light

 

There is only so much jiggery-pokery photographers can do when it comes to light manipulation and angles, so you need to do all you can in advance to give them the best canvas to work with.

A quick win to maximise the light and create a sense of more space is to open all the internal doors, and ensure all curtains and blinds are fully open. This not only shows the flow of the property but natural light will do wonders in any room. If your spaces are quite small and dark, try adding a few mirrors around the home.

Consider moving furniture around or putting it away in the loft if you think a room looks too cramped – especially kids’ chairs and beanbags. Push dining tables up against a wall for example, or remove the chaise lounge shoved at the end of your bed that you never use but always wanted.

The final point is to take the pictures at the right time of day. No one can guarantee the weather and the powers of editing allow for some flexibility, but you want to avoid night time and rainy days if you can.

It is recommended, however, that bright sunny days aren’t the best either as over exposed images are harder to correct than dark ones. It will, of course, depend on the position of your property too and how it absorbs light at different times of the day.  

 

  • Don’t forget the details

 

After a complete spring clean and declutter, don’t be let down by a few last minute blunders. Walk through the entire property ensuring all cupboard doors and drawers are shut, toilet seats are down and shower curtains are closed. 

Straighten rugs, neatly fold throws, plump up cushions and turn the TV off too – no one wants to know what you’re currently binge-watching. Even a washing machine drum full of wet clothes can spoil a photo.

Then look at where you might be able to add some character. This may seem contradictory to decluttering but carefully positioning a few choice items can be the difference between a bland property listing and selling a lifestyle. In today’s home working climate, make sure any dedicated study or home office is propped to illustrate its purpose, with a desk, office chair and a filing cabinet, or artfully leave a laptop and notepad out where you’ve been working – maybe at a breakfast bar.

Although cliched, a vase of flowers or bowl of fresh fruit will add colour and character, while a strategically-placed hat, handbag, pile of classic novels or a houseplant can give that lived-in look without overcrowding the space.

And remember – keep it up!

Try to keep your home photo-ready throughout the viewings process, as no potential buyer wants to discover your home standards have slipped when they pull up outside and cross your threshold. Get in touch if you need guidance – we can show you some examples of houses that have sold well thanks to their fantastic photos.

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Sales Group 1

How to avoid dropping the asking price when selling a property

Selling a property isn’t an exact science and each sale, purchaser and set of circumstances is different. What is the same, however, is the desire to sell a property for as much as possible – especially if an onwards purchase, retirement, lifestyle change or debt settlement is reliant on achieving a set sales figure.

There are a number of reasons why a seller may have to reduce their asking price, however, and knowing what these are can help prevent this happening to you. Reasons can include:-

Being on the market for too long: if a home remains unsold for an extended length of time, this can be because it is overvalued – especially if similar properties in the local area are selling for less. 

Because the buyer has asked them to: negotiating the asking price is part and parcel of selling a property and many purchasers expect to successfully get the owner to reduce what they’re willing to accept to secure the deal. Sometimes a buyer who is also selling will have had to reduce the asking price on their home, and this can have a knock on effect. 

Unfavourable survey results: even if the original offer matches the asking price, a survey may show a flaw that’s expensive to rectify – such as damp or subsidence. In this case, it’s quite usual for the buyer to ask the seller to accept a lower offer so they can cover the cost of any repairs once they have moved in.

How to avoid dropping your asking price

  • Get the most realistic and attractive valuation possible – if you opt for a very ambitious asking price, you may deter buyers and leave yourself with no other option than to reduce that figure later on. Beware, some purchasers may become suspicious if a property for sale is repeatedly reduced in price as it may suggest there’s something wrong with the home.
  • Ask for your property to be listed ‘offers over’ – there are a number of ways of listing a property’s asking price and if a single figure is listed, it’s fair to say that figure is up for negotiation. If you’d like to minimize haggling over the price paid, ask about listing your property as ‘offers over’ or OIEO (Offers In Excess Of) and we can discuss the minimum amount you need or are willing to accept. We suggest you avoid a wide price range or OIRO (Offers In the Region Of) as this invites people to make a lower, more speculative offer.
  • Ensure your property is in tip top condition – as mentioned, a survey may highlight structural issues within your property that will either cause the buyer to pull out of the purchase or prompt them to negotiate a lower offer. You can avoid this by identifying your home’s weak spots and repairing these before you go on the market. As well as rectifying any major issues, make sure any DIY is up-to-date, that all appliances are in working order and your boiler is serviced, as this will give your buyer fewer reasons to bargain.
  • Try a new marketing approach – this can be as subtle as a new set of photographs after redecoration or decluttering, or a more drastic measure, such as moving to a different estate agent. If you’re reading this and we’re not currently marketing your home, get in touch. We can provide you with a second opinion on your current marketing package and offer advice on your asking price.  
  • Provide value for money justifying your asking price is another way of appeasing a potential buyer. If you really don’t want to lose an interested party and can’t lower your offer, you may discuss leaving furniture, curtains and free standing appliances to improve the value-for-money aspect of your sale.

Are there any upsides of dropping the asking price?

Yes! You will immediately appeal to a new set of buyers with a smaller budget. If your home can be reduced to under £500,000, it will also be available to a buyer, stamp duty free until 31st March 2021 – purchasers are increasingly setting their budget and search criteria to only include homes for sale below this price threshold.

The smart way to reduce your asking price

Contact us about reducing your asking price. We’ll make sure any reduction drops you into a new band on the property portals, so your home reaches a whole new audience who may not have seen your property online before.

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Sales Group 1

A guide to downsizing your home

Downsizing is something many homeowners consider, particularly later in life when children have flown the nest. It can be a fast-track way to become mortgage-free, raise money to pay off any personal debt or boost retirement income.

Research from retirement housebuilder McCarthy and Stone revealed that 11 million people plan to downsize their homes by 2037 but while there are many advantages to doing so, there are also some financial and practical implications to consider.

Financial considerations
Downsizing to a smaller property can have many financial benefits, including significantly reduced household bills and upkeep costs, but these savings may not be as big as initially thought.

Type of property
Even though many first-time buyers are now bypassing flats and smaller two-bedroom properties in favour of something bigger, many won’t have an option to stretch their budget that far. This means downsizers could potentially be pitting themselves against property-owning novices in the property search.

Equally, smaller properties may not be that much cheaper. Flats, for example, may have a lower asking price but there are other costs to think about, such as ground rent, leaseholder charges including management and maintenance fees, plus sometimes a fee for buying a parking space.

Perhaps you’re thinking about a bungalow instead? Well, with these types of properties in such high demand and very few being built, they come with the price tags to match.

Moving costs
If one of the reasons for downsizing is to raise cash, then the cost of moving must be factored in as it can seriously dent the capital you are left with.

According to My Big Move, the cost of moving house is around £10,000 when you factor in the usual stamp duty land tax (the current holiday is due to end on 31st March 2021), estate agent fees for selling your current property, solicitor and conveyancing fees.

There are also removal costs and even possibly penalties for repaying your mortgage early.

Practical considerations
Aside from the sentimental value when selling a home you may have brought your family up in for decades, you have to think rationally about the other consequences of becoming a downsizer.

– Less space

It may be stating the obvious but, of course, you are likely to have less space when you downsize. It’s not just about the number of bedrooms and bathrooms or sacrificing a big garden. Generally, in a smaller property, everything will be smaller. No space for walk-in or fitted wardrobes, no downstairs cloakroom/toilet, no larder or utility room, no garage or driveway.

When looking for a smaller property, think about which facilities you have in your current home that you really value and couldn’t live without. Also think about where visiting friends and family members will stay if you’re not going to have a spare bedroom.

Then there’s your furniture and personal possessions that may not fit in your downsized home. Prepare to sell or gift large and unwanted items, and identify those must-haves that you really want to take with you when measuring up smaller properties.

– Growing old

When moving home later in life, you need to have a plan for your long-term care whether you want to or not. Firstly, be mindful that any capital freed up from the sale of your bigger home could end up being used for your care in later years, so you should find out how you’ll be assessed financially.

But more than that, you have to think about the practicalities around growing old. How far away will you be from family and friends who could care for you? Are you going to be near to amenities and transport links should you not be able to drive? Is another house with no ground floor bathroom or a second-floor flat with a temperamental lift a good idea?

A risky alternative?
If you’re not convinced that downsizing is for you, then you could look into equity release – where you release some cash from your property but continue living there and paying it back when you die.

A staggering £3.4 billion of property wealth was released in these kinds of schemes in 2019 but they do come with an element of risk and we recommend you take trusted, unbiased advice before taking this action.

Whatever decision you make, do not make it lightly and do your research beforehand. Feel free to talk to us for more financial and practical downsizing advice.

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Bank Holiday DIY jobs to improve your home’s value

Bank Holiday weekends are traditionally a time when millions of homeowners take advantage of the extra day off to spruce up their homes, and August is the last opportunity before Christmas.

But before you arm yourself with the contents of your dusty toolbox in a bid to play Bob the Builder, you might want to think about what DIY jobs will give you the best return on your investment.

If you’re considering selling up in the near future, there are certain home improvements that will have a greater impact on the value of your property than others. By investing just a few hundred pounds, you could increase your property’s sale price by more than £50,000. 

So, as well as doing your research beforehand, think about prioritising DIY jobs based on your current budget and the value you can add.

Freshen the exterior

House hunters in Britain take just 65 minutes to decide whether or not to make an offer on a property, with first impressions forming from outside in under five minutes. With this in mind, an attractive home exterior is crucial.

From garden maintenance to fixture and fittings upgrades, you can improve buyer appeal and asking price potential by:

  1. Repainting the front door and upgrading doorknobs, letter boxes and house numbers
  2. Repainting the garage door
  3. Tidying the driveway and front garden, adding low maintenance flowers where possible
  4. Cleaning or replacing fascias and guttering
  5. Washing the windows
  6. Painting the fence and garden gate

Upgrade kitchens and bathrooms

There’s no need for a completely new kitchen and bathroom to make your home look modern or desirable. However, these two rooms are often the most used in the house and the most expensive to replace, so buyers on a budget will often be looking for properties where no immediate upgrade is required.

According to DIY specialists at Tap Warehouse, 77% of property professionals place good quality tiles and grouting as the most desirable feature, so the floors and walls of your kitchen and bathrooms are great places to start.

Other ideas include:

  1. Upgrading taps and shower heads
  2. Installing a heated towel rail
  3. Adding a kitchen backsplash
  4. Painting cupboards and replacing handles
  5. Replacing worktops

Floor-to-ceiling improvements

The moment someone steps over the threshold of your home, they are making a judgement and it’s not just potential buyers who are guilty. Even your family and friends will judge your property within 38 seconds.

To make your home as inviting and tempting as it can be, consider how you can freshen up the floors, ceilings and walls – a new lick of paint can cost under £100 but boost the value by over £1,000.

Also think about:

  1. Upgrading fixtures like switch plates, plug sockets and light fittings
  2. Replacing downstairs carpet with hard flooring
  3. Cleaning or replacing carpets
  4. Installing crown moulding
  5. Upgrading internal doors

Boost energy efficiency

With climate change now on everyone’s radar, a commitment to saving energy in the home is not just a trend but a necessity. Even the Government says boosting your eco credentials can increase house prices and will be making grants available to homeowners so improvements will cost even less from autumn 2020.

Here are some ways you can improve your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating:

  1. Install wall, floor and ceiling insulation
  2. Use smart technology to monitor energy usage
  3. Draught proof your home
  4. Install double or triple glazed windows
  5. Replace conventional light bulbs with energy efficient alternatives

So it’s not a case of DIY don’t this August Bank Holiday, but more about choosing your home improvements wisely so you can reap the rewards at a later date. If selling a property you own is on the cards, talk to us about your local market.

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Lettings Group 1 Sales Group 1

Move in time for the primary school application deadline

Those without school-age children probably won’t be familiar with the primary school application process but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be. In fact, the jostle to be in the best position possible for a favoured primary school often starts before a baby is born.

Even before Ofsted inspections, parents tended to have a school in mind, but freely available results have made the race for places in the best schools more prononced. As a result, well-rated primary schools are usually oversubscribed and in tie-break situations; an admissions department will revert to its distance criteria or catchment area when offering places. Quite simply, where you live can make or break your admissions success.

In this quick guide to your home and primary school admissions, we answer the most commonly asked questions.

When do I have to apply for a primary school place?
Despite rumours of newborns being added to school waiting lists, parents can only apply for a state primary school place in the autumn term after their child turns four. There is a strict deadline for primary place applications and the next is 15th January 2021. It is around this date each year.

Does it matter where I live?
A resounding yes! Each school will either have a pre-set catchment or distance criteria. Usually places are given to those classed as ‘looked after’ and those with siblings already at the school first but after which, a family’s location can heavily influence the success of an application.

Is it ‘closest to the school’ wins?
It’s true that in a case of over subscription, the distance from the family home to the school gate may be taken into account. It is wrong, however, to assume a primary school puts itself in the middle of a circle to establish its admissions radius. The school could actually be off centre and those living closest won’t always get an automatic place. In some cases, parents who can actually see their favoured school from their home or live a matter of feet from the classrooms have missed out.

So is a school catchment different?
Yes, it is. It’s very important to contact each primary school you are interested in to establish their catchment, as this, for instance, may not always include the roads closest to the school – some will prioritise children in certain parish areas. Other influences include county boundaries, as well as cultivated relationships with ‘feeder’ nurseries and pre-schools.

What can I do if I’m out of catchment?
Some families or would-be parents discover they’re living ‘out of catchment’ and want to move home to secure an address that gives them the best chance of application success. In these cases, we can help locate a property to buy or rent that falls within the right catchment or distance criteria.

Does the timing of my move matter?
School applications must reflect the child’s permanent address, so for maximum peace-of-mind, complete any move before the 15th January 2021. You can move during the primary school application process but you will need to provide your local authority’s admissions department with a solicitor’s letter confirming your completion date (an exchange date will not suffice), evidence that you are selling or have sold your current residence or if you are a tenant, proof that you have given notice on your present property and have signed a new tenancy agreement, together with the start date.

How long will it take me to move?
Given the next primary school deadline is 15th January 2021, anyone needing to move to for application purposes should go on the market now. Parents should factor in how long the marketing, viewing and offers process takes, plus add the time between accepting an offer and completion – usually around 12-16 weeks. If you are renting, the process may be a little quicker but still factor in a three month lead time.

All we need to start your home moving journey is the name and postcode of the primary school that’s at the top of your list. While we can’t guarantee you application success, we will do our best to get you in the strongest position possible. We can also assist in the process by selling your current property, so get in touch.

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Buying a home – Your document checklist

Whether you’re buying your first property or moving house, there’s a mountain of paperwork you’ll need to work through and dig out of your dusty filing cabinets or maxed-out mailbox.

This document checklist details everything you might need before you find your perfect property and put in that offer.

Applying for a mortgage
Both first-time mortgage applications and remortgages will require identity and affordability checks. You’ll need to prove you are who you say you are and that you can afford to repay a mortgage debt.

Have the following to hand before applying for a mortgage and if you need extra support, consider talking to a mortgage advisor:

– Passport

– Recent utility bill at current address

– Proof of benefits received

– Most recent P60 and your last three months’ payslips OR SA302 tax return form and at least two years’ certified accounts if self-employed

– Bank statements for three to six months to show income and outgoings

– Balance statements for credit cards, store cards, finance agreements etc

Preparing to sell
If this isn’t your first step onto the property ladder and you’ve got a property to sell before you can buy, you’ll need all documentation proving you own the property and that it is fit for sale.

This will often be required by estate agents before they can market your property and solicitors before they can complete any sale on your behalf. They may also assist you in finding or completing the documentation too.

– Title deeds or ‘Title Absolute’ if not available – check with the solicitor who handled the last purchase or obtain from the Land Registry for a small fee

– Freehold documentation or copy of the Lease – depending on whether you own the land the property is built on

– Management or leasehold information pack – if ground rent and management fees are paid, to show what is included

– Certifications, warranties and approvals – for any work that has been carried out such as new boiler installation, new double glazing or Building Regulation sign-off for permitted extensions and planning approvals

– Energy Performance Certificate – required by law since 2008 and valid for 10 years so if your home is more energy efficient now then it was, you may want to pay for a new one

– Transaction (TA) forms – providing essential property information to potential buyers, from boundary information and neighbour dispute details to existing development notices and building insurance details

Preparing to buy
As long as you have proved you are who you say you are, live where you say you live and earn what you say you earn, there is just one more thing to obtain before you can start house-hunting…

– Mortgage offer and proof of deposit – this could be an offer in principle and bank statement to show you have the funds to purchase a property

Of course, more paperwork will be needed once you find a property you like and the sale process gets rolling, but it’s not something you can prepare in advance. By packaging all your other paperwork together beforehand, you’ll find your property purchase journey a much smoother – and sometimes faster – one.

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Sell to rent: is it for you?

‘Sell to rent’ – when you find a buyer for your home and move into rented accommodation. While this isn’t one of the most common moving steps, in 2020 we are finding that anything is possible – and sometimes necessary.

There are many strategic reasons to make the swap, as we have highlighted below, but we realise sometimes changing where and how you live is a matter of urgency, and we’re here to help.

As a dual agency with specialisms in both sales and lettings, we can switch you from owner occupier to tenant status with ease. Here are 4 reasons why it can be advantageous:

Cap moving costs
Buying a property has been made cheaper thanks to the stamp duty holiday but there are still costs attached to purchasing an onwards home. Moving into a rented property tends to have lower set up costs, with the deposit required capped at 5 or 6 weeks’ worth of rent and no tenant fees to pay. As a result, moving to the right rental property can provide a financial ‘breather’ for some.

Shorten your next chain
For many movers, the thought of being in a chain is daunting, knowing one person pulling out will jeopardise everyone’s success. If you buy from the position of living in a rented property, you become the start of the chain with no one else behind you. From here, you carry forward favourable advantages.

You could purchase a new build home or a property with no onwards chain – both of which should result in a straightforward, speedy transaction with a chain of just two. Alternatively, you could re-enter the open market and make offers with the bonus of having no chain behind you – an aspect that is favoured by sellers and often give buyers an advantage when there’s purchasing competition.

Free equity
We are living in strange economic times and for many homeowners, wealth is tied up in a property. A smart home move can be organised by us to free equity to provide a cash lump sum, re-finance or fund a business or facilitate a new lifestyle. We can help you work out the numbers, taking into account the value of the home you are selling, any outstanding mortgage and the cost of a rental property where you’d like to live.

Try before you buy
We are helping more movers than ever make a different lifestyle or location choice, especially now many professionals have been given the option to work from home. Moving from an owner-occupied property to a rental home affords flexibility – handy if you’re relocating to a new area or totally new setting and you’d like to sample a change before you commit to a purchase. Tenancy agreements can be arranged on a short-let basis – for as little as 3 or 6 months, for instance – as well as the traditional 12 month contracts.

If you’d like to explore the ‘sell to rent’ option, get in touch. We can create a plan of action that includes marketing your home for sale and finding you a new home to rent.

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Moving for the mobile signal & broadband speeds

It’s probably one of the most frustrating phrases to keep shouting down the receiver but you’ll be all too familiar with “can you hear me now?” if you live in an area of poor mobile phone reception. Of late, we’ve also become increasingly exasperated with poor internet speeds that embarrass us with frozen screens and time lags during video calls.

As a result, today’s home movers are especially concerned with their quality of the broadband service and mobile phone signal strength – especially now more of us than ever are working from home.

In fact, home movers were making reliable connections a ‘must have’ moving facet back in 2018. Broadband Genie found that only 16% of buyers would purchase a property that doesn’t have access to fast broadband, while just 19% said they would buy a home that doesn’t have a good mobile reception. Fast forward two years and those figures will, no doubt, be lower.

When you consider 49% of UK workers reported working from home in June 2020 – compared to 4.3% in 2015 – mobile signal and broadband speed tests need to be up there with schools and public transport research. So, is there a way to avoid dropped-connection disappointment before you collect the keys to your new home?

Check speeds & signal strength before you move
The good news is Ofcom offers a free checker service via its website and app. You simply input the postcode you’d like to check and choose to see the broadband or mobile phone coverage.

You can select to view the 3G and 4G reception for both indoors and outdoors, and compare mobile providers based on the quality of their voice, data and enhanced data performance. There’s also a map that clearly shows signal strength based on the network provider selected. When it comes to broadband, there’s another map to see what areas are served by standard, superfast or ultrafast broadband.

There is an online broadband speed checker, which creates a detailed report based on a given postcode. You’ll find out the average download speed and whether high speed copper phone line or superfast fibre optic broadband is available.

There’s also a handy comparison facility that displays your speed test history – allowing you to quickly compare the results from a number of postcodes – as well as a selection of broadband deals from different suppliers, so you can see charges alongside average speeds.

Rural broadband
If you’re one of many home movers thinking of heading out to ‘the sticks’ – perhaps because you’ve been given the option to work from home permanently – mobile phone signal and broadband speed checks are vital before you view a property.

The number of so-called ‘not spots’ rise the more rural you travel, and some homes have to rely on satellite or wireless broadband – the latter usually from a 4G network. A property’s distance from the telephone exchange and a street cabinet can all affect speeds and reliability, so investigate what cabling is available and whether residents struggle to get even 3G.

5G – when and where?
The next generation of mobile data speeds is here, although the roll out across the UK is gradual and won’t be complete until 2022. Providers EE, Three, Vodafone and O2 are already making 5G available to some users but if you’re hoping to rely on 5G for an internet connection at home, bear in mind it’s only compatible with a few new mobile handsets (there wasn’t a 5G compatible iPhone as of August 2020); is only available in a limited number of towns and cities, and is comparatively expensive.

Feel free to ask us which networks and providers we use – as a local business and personally. We’d be happy to help get you connected in your new home.

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6 Dos and Don’ts in your rental property garden

Private outdoor space is fast becoming a rarity in rental properties, especially within cities, but if you are lucky enough to have your own garden, or keen to make this a priority when you next move, you need to understand the consequences.

Whether you’re a green-fingered gardener or simply a ‘sit back and sunbathe’ type of tenant, having outside space with your rented home comes with added responsibilities. Just like you have to maintain the property itself, you have to also maintain the garden.

Each year, there are more than 2,000 tenancy deposit disputes concerning the upkeep of gardens, so it’s advisable to find out exactly what is expected of you as a tenant as well as know what the landlord is responsible for.

DO…
Be prepared for basic maintenance
Generally, the tenant is responsible for maintaining the gardens to the standards they were in when they took on the property. This will include mowing the lawn, keeping the weeds at bay and ensuring it doesn’t become overgrown or untidy. But you should not be expected to tend to award-winning rose bushes or anything that requires expertise.

Buy your own gardening tools
It’s unlikely the landlord will provide you with a lawnmower and set of hedge trimmers, so you may need to invest in (or borrow regularly from a neighbour) some gardening tools. If there is nowhere to store such equipment, it would be reasonable to ask for a shed before you move in.

Check the tenancy agreement
Landlords are increasingly advised to stipulate what they expect of tenants when it comes to maintaining the garden within the tenancy agreement. It should be clear what areas of the garden and type of maintenance are your responsibility. It may also reveal that the landlord has contracted a gardener whom you must grant access to.

DON’T…
Carry out major repairs, restoration or felling
Usually, the landlord would take responsibility for more significant tasks like repairing broken gates or fencing, felling any overhanging or dangerous trees and replacing broken walls or patio slabs. It will largely depend on whether any damage was caused by you or wear and tear.

Improve the garden
From erecting a small shed or grand summer house to swapping patios for decking and attaching a pergola to the side of the house, it pays to ask permission. Anything that improves the property will probably be allowed (and some landlords may even pay towards it if it will increase future rental prospects) but beware you may have to take down any outbuildings and return the garden to its previous state before moving out.

Break the law
Regardless of whether you are a tenant or homeowner, you could be breaking the law by carrying out certain activities in your garden. Putting up a trampoline, for example (even if your landlord agrees), could threaten your neighbours’ privacy. Having summer BBQs is also fine, provided you don’t break the terms of any lease (in leasehold properties) or be a noise or nuisance as you party in your hot tub and sing around a campfire.

What about communal gardens?
You may live in a flat, apartment or maisonette where you have access to a communal garden that can be used by all residents. In some instances, this may be where your bins are stored or a private shed and washing line.

While it’s likely that any maintenance fee you pay will cover the upkeep of this space, you should check your tenancy agreement carefully, particularly as to when and what you can use the communal garden for.

In any case, if you’re still unsure, there’s no harm in asking your landlord or letting agent.