Whether you’re a
landlord, or a landlord’s managing agent, one of the most important factors in
your commercial mind must be the question of how to keep your costs down in
order to keep your profits up. For instance, as a landlord you go to great
lengths to choose the right agents who will interview, select and reference
tenants to minimise the chances of finding yourself saddled with the unruly kind
who are more likely to cause damage which will increase your costs. The same
goes for trees in the gardens of your properties, because they can be a
blessing or a curse, depending on how you deal with them.
As a managing agent, above
all else you want two things for your landlords: 1) to be able to quickly find
the right tenants, and 2) to keep maintenance costs to a minimum throughout the
tenancy. Trees pull in both directions, because a lovely leafy, secluded garden
will make a property more desirable and, therefore, easier to rent out, but a
property with trees will require higher maintenance costs.
responsibility for tree safety and maintenance at a property falls at the
landlord’s door, so I thought we’d do a quick summary piece about what those
responsibilities are and how you can live up to them.
to your tenants
landlord has a duty of care to ensure that the trees in their gardens are safe.
If left to grow unchecked, a tree may eventually become susceptible to the risk
of toppling over, or individual branches can extend too far or be weakened
through wind, illness or infestation. If a tree or branch falls on a tenant or
their property, and you are unable to evidence a clearly scheduled maintenance
programme with a reputable firm of tree surgeons, then you may well find
yourself liable for damages, or worse.
for your own property and that of any neighbours
grows above ground and it also grows below the surface, with roots snaking off
in all directions to support the tree above and to suck up moisture and
minerals from the soil. The bigger the tree, the more water it pulls from the
ground and the more extensive its root system. If the roots grow under your
property or that of any neighbours, the water removed from the ground could
(depending on the species of tree and the weather extremes), in extreme
circumstances, destabilise foundations, causing subsidence. However, the better
your pruning schedule above ground the less the root system will need to grow,
so stay on top of your tree’s maintenance or you may find costly damage to
property and neighbourly relations will result.
of your tenants and neighbours
think that you can leave tree maintenance to your tenants – after all, aren’t
they responsible for looking after the property as a whole while they’re living
there? While you may have built garden maintenance into your tenancy agreement,
should things go wrong related to your trees, the buck stops with you. So don’t
rely on tenants; take responsibility for tree maintenance yourself as to not do
so could cost you dearly in legal or building fees.
to your insurers
companies are notoriously analytical when it comes to paying out. If you breach
any of the terms of your policy you may find them less than cooperative. If you
allow your trees to grow unchecked to a point where they are likely to cause
damage to your property then you may well be breaching your duty under your
policy. Check your policy today to see whether it specifies tree maintenance
and if it does, then you must stick to the letter of this responsibility. If
your policy is unclear on this point, maybe it’s time to speak to a good
insurance broker and see whether you can find a better policy, one with clearer
instructions and less opportunity for your insurer to reject a claim when you
need them most.
of your managing agent
managing agent will take the time to arrange regular visits to the property
(once or twice a year) to make sure it is all in good order and to further
their relationship with your tenants. As part of these visits it’s important
that they assess the maintenance needs of your trees to see whether there are
any safety issues that need to be dealt with. Should they be left in charge of
selecting a firm of tree surgeons to deal with maintenance, keep in mind the
story of an investment firm and its MD who have just been required to pay out over
£120,000 for breach of health and safety regulations when a tree surgeon in
their employ lost his life. Choosing to work with cowboys will cost you far
more than you think you’re saving in the short term and both landlord and
managing agent have a duty of care to the tenant to ensure that they select
only the most reliable of tree surgeons.
Do any of
your trees have TPOs (Tree Protection Orders) on them? If so, even maintenance will
require permission from your local authority. Do not trust a tree surgeon who
tells you it won’t be a problem (yes, they do exist). Always check when you buy
a property whether there are any TPOs on the trees, then ensure that you
maintain them in accordance with the stipulations set out by your local
to your pocket
started off talking about keeping costs down to ensure that your property
assets are profitable, so it seems the right place to finish. Your building
insurance company will assess the risk your trees pose to your property (and
others), and should they feel there is a higher than normal risk they will
increase the cost of your insurance. They may also ask for you to have an
Indemnity Report produced by a firm of arborists, so be aware that these do
expire and you’ll need to pay for an updated report every two to three years.
Also, should you feel that your insurance company has slapped a particularly
high figure on your insurance due to risk, you might wish to pay for an
Indemnity Report anyway because, if favourable, it may convince the insurance
company to reduce their policy costs.
Proper maintenance of
your trees by a reputable firm of tree surgeons and arborists will cost you,
but this will be nothing compared with the fines, legal fees and damages that
could be heading your way should you not maintain your trees and something goes
Do you have a tree maintenance schedule?
Each property you own or manage should have a tree maintenance schedule, assessed by a reputable arborist and managed by a team of qualified and reliable tree surgeons.
Pruning can prevent subsidence
Regular maintenance and pruning of your trees will slow or stop root growth, reducing the chance of damage being caused or subsidence resulting.
An Indemnity Report could save you money
If your insurance company is nervous about a tree, get an arborist to write an Indemnity Report and this could result in lower insurance costs.
Only use ARB Approved Contractors
The Arboricultural Association is the UK’s leading authority on tree surgeons. Go to their website to find an ARB Approved Contractor.
To book a free survey and consultation with one of our ARB Approved arborists
for advice on your trees or to book our tree surgeons to prune/maintain or fell
your tree(s) and remove the stumps, call us on 0208 292 8992.
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