This article has been written in response to a landlord’s query: “Should I let my tenant keep chickens in the garden?”
When tenants move into a rental property with a garden, they may assume that the garden is theirs to use as they wish. However, it is important to ensure the tenancy agreement contains guidelines surrounding the use of the garden to avoid any potential conflict at the end of the tenancy.
With Easter bringing up thoughts of chickens and eggs, what happens if a tenant wishes to keep chickens in their garden? It is common for tenancy agreements to require a tenant to ask permission of their landlord to keep a pet in their property, but this usually applies to pets that live inside a property such as dogs or cats. It’s sensible to make sure any tenancy agreement clauses concerning pets cover all domestic animals to ensure clarity for your tenants.
If you do give permission to your tenant, it is important to make sure you have also agreed in advance who is responsible for any damage caused by the chickens. For example, if you give permission and the chickens then ruin the lawn – who would pay for it? Without special clauses or addendums to the tenancy agreement, it will be more difficult to decide who may be responsible for the costs and whether this would count as damage or wear and tear.
In the event of a dispute, an adjudicator would consider what the landlord had agreed to and what evidence there was to prove the damage was caused by the chickens. This evidence would ideally include check-in and check-out reports as well as good quality photos and a description of the garden at the start and end of the tenancy. Adjudicators generally consider the most economic option, to avoid betterment, so although a landlord might put forward a claim for totally re-turfing the garden, if digging and reseeding (for example) was possible instead then an award for that might be made as it is more economic.
The best course of action in this instance may be to ensure any permission given includes making good at the tenant’s expense, with this ideally noted in an individually negotiated clause within the tenancy agreement. This clause would then help avoid any disputes on the matter at the end of the tenancy.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDS offers both Insured and Custodial protection and also provides fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.
We provide invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and disputes for agents and landlords through the TDS Academy as well as joining with MOL to provide the Technical Award in Residential Tenancy Deposits.
TDS Insured Scheme: where a TDS member can hold the tenancy deposits as stakeholder during the term of the tenancy.
TDS Custodial Scheme: where TDS hold the deposit for the duration of the tenancy.
TDS Academy: TDS provides property professionals with invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and tenancy deposit disputes.
TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.