Landlords, what to do if your property has a shared or overlooked garden
Most of us like a certain degree of privacy when we’re in our garden and tenants are no different. But many popular types of Buy to Let property, such as flats and Victorian terraced cottages, tend to have gardens or outside spaces that are overlooked or communal, so what can you do to help shield your tenants from prying eyes and nosey neighbours?
An obvious solution is to put in a tree, fence or trellis that provides a small private area. But you must make sure you’re not exceeding maximum heights permitted, encroaching on your neighbour’s land or blocking any light. The easiest way to do this is speak to your local council and ask for someone to come out and agree with you exactly what you’re able to do. You could also look at putting in a pergola or summer house. If you discuss the issue with your neighbours, you might be able to come to an agreement about putting something up that gives you both better privacy.
Communal gardens can be tricky, as there’s often one person who doesn’t respect either the rules or common decency! It tends to be flats that have communal outside spaces and there are usually some restrictions stated in the lease, such as no ball games, no hanging of washing outside and no sectioning off any part of the garden for private use. In this case, there’s not a great deal you can do other than be very careful when you’re looking for a Buy to Let. Try to choose a development where the communal grounds have areas that do offer some privacy, or where there isn’t anything in the lease that prevents you from putting out some pots with large plants or trellises in them – things that aren’t permanently planted so can be moved or removed if necessary.
Shared access and rights of way are common in Victorian terraces, which often have gates between gardens to allow for removal of rubbish bins and to provide an escape route. Legally, you can’t do anything about this, so it’s worth getting to know the neighbours and speaking to them about how often they expect to use their right of way.
Remember that most people want a peaceful life, so as long as you make reasonable proposals and don’t go ahead with any ‘privacy measures’ without talking to your neighbours first, you should be able to agree something that works for you both.
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