How to improve outdoor space for tenants

An outside area with a table and chairs, barbecue and umbrella

Part One – Outdoor space

The Covid-19 pandemic has been an extremely testing time for everyone involved in the rental sector, and it will have repercussions for many years to come. One thing that is clear is that tenants will have far different expectations of their home than they did four months ago. To help landlords, we’re putting together a series of articles explaining how they can unlock the potential of their properties, and offer homes fit for this new era.

Today, in part one, we’re covering how to make the most of your outdoor space.

Before the onset of lockdown in March, having a garden or a balcony was generally seen as a nice addition to your home, somewhere to show off to your friends and host a barbeque each summer.

But after tenants were forced to spend weeks and months inside their homes, gardens and balconies have shot up the list of most desired features amongst tenants looking for a new home.

A recent survey conducted by Rightmove found 59 percent of renters said that they now want their next home to either have a garden, or a bigger one if they already have one

Balconies have had something of a resurgence during lockdown too, whether they are being used by amateur Italian opera singers cheering up neighbours during lockdown, or just as somewhere to relax and read a book.

So what can you do as a landlord to make the most of all available outdoor space, and make your property stand out to the best tenants?

Spruce it up!

The first step is to make sure that any outdoor space, whether its a garden or a balcony, is in good shape and looks appealing to tenants. Taking a bit of time between tenancies to spruce up the garden, or buying some plant hangers for the side of the balcony can make a big difference.

Keep it maintained

You should also make sure that your tenancy agreement makes it clear what responsibilities your tenants have for their outdoor space. Most standard Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreements state that the tenant is responsible for returning their garden or balcony in the same state they found it. So if you have a well-tended lawn or flower bed when tenants move in, they must return it in that condition.

Is it allowed?

You also need to make sure that the AST agreement has provisions for what kind of social events are permitted in their garden, such as a barbeque. You should also include guidance for what is permissible on a balcony, For example, if smoking is not allowed inside the property, then you need to make that clear.

Having the right outdoor space is going to be a huge selling point for tenants post lockdown, so now is the time to start thinking about how best to make use of your outdoor space.