Home & garden

Maintaining tenant garden: who is responsible - tenant or landlord?

Tenants of an apartment with a garden do not always know who is responsible for the care. We explain when the tenant or landlord is responsible.

Having your own garden is a dream that many tenants cannot fulfill. But even if a small (or large) garden belongs to the rental apartment, this does not only come with advantages. After all, this garden also needs to be properly maintained. What if the tenant doesn't feel like taking care of the garden? Perhaps he would prefer to have a gardener come so that the garden looks accurate, but the tenant doesn't have to do excessive gardening. Of course this is possible. However, the question of costs also arises. Who bears the costs for garden maintenance - tenants or landlords? What happens if the landlord and not the tenant has commissioned the gardener? Can the costs still be passed on to the tenant in whole or at least in part? In the further course we reveal what the German jurisprudence has to say on these topics.

Who is responsible for garden maintenance?

Tenants are only responsible if this is expressly regulated in the rental contract!

If a garden belongs to the rented house or the rented apartment on the ground floor, the rental contract should clearly regulate who has to take care of the garden maintenance. But there are also rental contracts that, despite an existing rental garden, unfortunately do not contain such a regulation. In this case, the tenants can assume that maintaining the garden is not their job, but the landlord has to take care of it. If this task is to be transferred to the tenant, a corresponding contractual regulation is required. All prospective tenants who are considering renting an apartment or a house with a garden should take a close look at the respective formulation regarding garden maintenance. Because it provides information about the extent to which the tenant has to take care of the garden.

Garden maintenance costs by landlord or gardener are payable

While the care of a lawn or a flower bed is generally not particularly expensive, this can look very different when pruning or trimming trees. That is also why it is in the interest of the tenant to take a close look and check what work a rental garden will mean for him in the future. Incidentally, even if the landlord either takes care of the garden maintenance himself or hires a third party, such as a landscape gardener, to take over this work, this does not mean that the tenant will not incur any costs. Because the costs for garden maintenance are partially apportionable. The additional costs associated with renting an apartment with a garden for the tenant should therefore be borne in mind before the property is rented.

Garden maintenance by the tenant

Basically, it should be noted that the tenant can only be contractually obliged to maintain the garden to a limited extent. Only simple garden work can be expected of the tenant. The following parameters must therefore apply to this garden work:

  • The tenant does not need any specialist knowledge to be able to carry out the respective garden work.
  • There is no great financial outlay for the said gardening.

Mowing the lawn and removing weeds can therefore be expected from the tenant. In addition to felling, pruning is also one of the tasks that cannot be transferred from the landlord to the tenant. Because they are not only time-consuming, this gardening is also associated with a higher level of difficulty. Of course, the landlord is free to decide whether they want to carry out this work themselves or consult a specialist. So that there are no unnecessary disputes between the tenant and the landlord, it makes sense if the rental agreement already includes the following points with regard to the tenant's obligations:

  • Type of gardening
  • Scope of garden maintenance
  • how often the tenant should maintain the garden

Tenants decide for themselves

The landlord does not in itself have the right to prescribe to what extent and how often the tenant has to maintain the garden. Because if the landlord were allowed to make such specifications for the tenant, the tenant would virtually slip into the role of an employee. This means that the tenant can decide whether to mow the lawn weekly or only every two weeks. This discretion also means that the tenant can decide how much time and money they want to invest in garden maintenance.

The garden must not be neglected

However, there are limits. After all, the tenant must not let the garden go completely neglected, since garden maintenance is ultimately part of his contractually agreed tasks. Therefore, it may make sense to contractually stipulate the absolute minimum amount of gardening that must be carried out by the tenant before the landlord intervenes. An eco garden or trees as well as shrubs that are not pruned by the tenant are to be accepted by the landlord. If the landlord attaches great importance to the fact that his taste comes into play in the design and maintenance of the garden, then he should not delegate the task of gardening to the tenant. Because the landlord has forfeited the corresponding say.

In the event of neglect, the landlord can commission gardeners at the expense of the tenant

However, if the garden is completely overgrown or neglected, the landlord cannot intervene immediately. Rather, he must first ask the tenant to fulfill his gardening duties. The landlord may only commission a specialist company if the tenant has not complied with this request again. Only then can the landlord request reimbursement for the gardener from the tenant, even though the tenant would have been responsible for maintaining the rental garden. If, however, the landlord hastily orders a gardener, he will remain at that cost. In order not to risk disputes with your own landlord, it is of course in the interest of the tenant to carry out a minimum amount of gardening or to hire a professional to do the basic garden maintenance, which must then be paid by the tenant.

Costs for garden maintenance by the tenant

Even if the tenant takes care of the maintenance of the garden, this is of course associated with costs. In this case, too, there is a lot of money involved, from water for watering the plants to the cost of purchasing a lawnmower that the tenant may not currently have. Therefore, the question arises to what extent the tenant has to bear these costs in full. If there is an agreement between the tenant and the landlord that the tenant takes care of the garden, this does not mean that the landlord must provide his tenant with the appropriate garden tools.

Rather, the tenant has to get these devices himself and pay for them. Thus, it is at the discretion of the tenant how much he wants to invest financially in garden maintenance. Big advantage: While the one-time purchase costs for the various garden tools can be quite high, these devices are of course the property of the tenant and can either be used for garden maintenance of another property or sold when moving.

Garden maintenance by the landlord

So while there are some garden maintenance tasks that the landlord will take over in any case, it is equally conceivable that the landlord is responsible for the complete garden maintenance. If a professional gardener is to do this work, the tenant must therefore assume that he will incur corresponding additional costs. But to what extent can the gardener's costs be passed on to the tenant? Does the tenant have to pay the full bill in the end just because the landlord doesn't want to take care of the gardening himself and hasn't assigned the tenant this task either?

Gardening reduces the apportionable costs for the tenant

If it is in the interest of the tenant to lend a hand in the rental garden, this should be addressed to the landlord. Because while some prospective tenants simply don't feel like gardening and are happy when the landlord takes care of everything, there are also tenants who want to let off steam in the garden. If you invest time in a rental garden yourself, you can also expect lower gardening costs. In order for the landlord to be able to pass the garden maintenance costs on to the tenant, a look at the lease is again crucial.

Allocable costs for garden maintenance regulated in the lease

Because only if the costs for garden maintenance are listed there as a possible type of additional costs, the landlord is allowed to get the money back for the gardener from the tenant. The following list gives all interested readers an overview of which costs for garden maintenance can be apportioned and to what extent:

  • Operating the lawnmower - electricity and gasoline
  • Personnel costs - in other words, the wages for the gardener
  • Watering and watering - cost of water
  • Removal and replanting of trees and bushes, provided this is due to age, weather or environmental reasons
  • Costs for the removal of various garden waste including leaves
  • The removal of dead flowers
  • Possibly operating, repair and maintenance costs for various garden tools, the use of which results in lower personnel costs for garden maintenance
  • Costs for pruning hedges / shrubs / trees
  • Maintenance of driveways, squares and other outside areas that are located on the premises
  • Costs for plants / wood that need to be replaced - however, if plants or wood have to be newly purchased, the tenant can usually not be asked to pay
  • Lawn fees - mowing / fertilizing / scarifying / etc.
  • Cost of maintaining a playground (if available)

Depending on how the garden use is regulated in the rental contract, all or only part of the costs can be passed on to the tenant. After all, there are no other parties in a single-family apartment building that could contribute to the costs. If, on the other hand, it is an apartment building in which the tenant only rents a ground floor apartment, he does not have to bear the entire costs for the garden maintenance of all outdoor areas on the house premises. Since the front yard as well as the paths and access roads are mostly used by all tenants, they are all responsible for the costs of maintaining these areas.

The more well-tended the garden, the higher the costs

In view of the long list of costs that the landlord can pass on to the tenant, the tenant should consider carefully how important a beautiful, well-kept garden is to them. The more well-kept the outside area of ​​a rental house, the more money the gardener responsible will charge for this work. Before a tenant decides to rent a property with a garden, it should therefore be carefully examined what additional costs for garden maintenance can be expected. Otherwise, the tenant may experience a nasty surprise later, which could then cost him dearly.

Have utility bills checked as well

In some cases, the legality of the allocated costs is difficult for the tenant to understand. Anyone who fears excessive garden maintenance costs should go to the rental association with ancillary costs. After all, the landlord is not obliged to commission the cheapest gardener on the market with garden maintenance. It is therefore quite possible that the garden maintenance costs will ultimately be higher than the tenant had expected. It can therefore make sense not only to have the expected amount of the additional costs fixed in the rental agreement, but also to insist that the various cost types are broken down in detail.

What happens if the tenant moves out?

If the tenant has planted just one plant at his own expense in the rental garden during the rental period, the question arises as to what extent the tenant may take these plants with him. Do the plants that the tenant has paid for still belong to him or are they owned by the landlord and therefore must not be removed from the rental garden under any circumstances? The legal provisions regarding this matter are not as clear as some tenants-landlords would want. If there is a rental garden, then it makes sense to contractually regulate this aspect as well.

For example, the rental agreement may stipulate that the plants may not be taken away, but the landlord must pay compensation to the tenant. However, such clauses can only be found in very few rental contracts, so that in practice there are often avoidable disputes. In general, it can be said that the chances that the tenant can take the plants with them decrease over the years. The longer the plants have grown into the soil of the rental garden, the harder it is to obtain the right to dig up these plants and take them with you. However, there is always the risk that the plants will be damaged during the move and eventually die. Garden furniture of course remains the property of the tenant, unless it has been provided by the landlord, and must even be taken with you when you move.