Rental law changes introducing minimum housing standards will come into effect for new tenancies from 1 September 2023, and for all tenancies from 1 September 2024.
Arrangements about the maintenance of gardens, including fruit trees, and lawns should be listed in the tenancy agreement.
The condition of the lawns and gardens should be recorded on the Entry condition report (Form 1a) and Exit condition report (Form 14a).
Mowing, edging and weeding
Generally, the tenant is responsible for yard work (e.g. mowing, edging, and weeding), however this should be specified in the agreement.
Tree lopping and hedging
Major work such as tree lopping or pruning trees and shrubs is usually carried out by the property manager/owner as part of their obligation to keep the property in good repair.
This type of work is not carried out regularly and is more likely to require specialist knowledge, or equipment such as ladders.
Any plants, hedges or lawns that require specialist upkeep are usually not the responsibility of the tenant, unless they agree.
Responsibility for removing fallen branches, including palm fronds, may vary depending on the circumstances.
The tenant may be responsible for clearing away small, manageable branches in a timely manner.
Larger branches, which may require specialist equipment to remove, may be the property manager/owner’s responsibility.
Any damage caused by fallen branches may be the property manager/owner’s responsibility to repair.
Arrangements about the collection and ownership of fruit should be included in the special terms of the agreement. If this has not been included, the right to occupy the property may give the tenant the right to pick the fruit during the tenancy.
Special terms about fruit trees may include:
- when a property manager/owner can enter the property to collect the fruit (there are no entry rules for this kind of entry, unless by mutual agreement)
- whether the tenant can eat the fruit
Local council water restrictions should be considered. The tenant may not be held responsible if lawns, trees or other plants die because of compliance with these local laws or due to excessive dry weather conditions. Any concerns with lawns or trees dying should still be reported to the property manager/owner.
Yard maintenance contracts
If yard maintenance is covered by a contract between the property manager/owner and an external company this should be listed in the tenancy agreement.
The tenant cannot be required to enter into a maintenance contract with a particular company in addition to their rent, or require the tenant to use a specific company to provide maintenance services.