Landlords, tenants and real estate agents are being caught between a rock and a green space as water restrictions and drought continue to take a toll.
While landlords obviously want their investments looking their best, tenants can be both unwilling and now unable, to access enough water to keep the grass and gardens green, while agents are caught in the middle.
By contract law a tenant must vacate the property in the same condition it was at the start of the lease, allowing for wear and tear according to Tamworth Real Estate Agent Association chair Margot Taggart.
“The problem is there is no definition of ‘wear and tear’, and some people have been using the drought and water restrictions to do nothing at all, and that is a problem,” she said.
“We understand there are some ethical issues about using water at the moment as well as the restrictions, but it has made it an absolute minefield.”
Local agents have “had a couple of wins at the tribunal lately” that have seen tenants slugged with the cost of reseeding, and watering lawns that were left in disarray, although Mrs Taggart believes there is a middle ground.
“As a farmer’s daughter I understand that lawns are dying in front of our eyes, and that there are some ethical issues as well as restrictions on water use,” Ms Taggart said.
“Although landlords still have the right to expect tenants to spend some time on the gardens and lawns.
“I don’t know what the right answer is, but I do know that some tenants have been abusing it, and while we always do regular inspections, those issues will be addressed at the final inspections.”
Tamworth entered into Level 2 water restrictions last Monday, meaning that no sprinklers are allowed at all, and hand watering only allowed for two hours a day between 6-8pm.
At our current rate of usage the city will enter level 3 restrictions in 16 days, meaning only 15 mins of hand held hoses a day.