When a person is new to an area, they may be unaware of the rules for communally, shared spaces.
It is important that everyone that uses shared spaces, such as a communal garden, are aware of the rules. This creates an understanding for fostering an area with understanding and respect.
The rules for communal gardens in flats may vary, depending upon the agreements of tenants and the landlord. However, the following are typical rules and expectations:
- Maintain low noise levels
- Criminal activity is prohibited
- No smoking
- No cooking or flammable materials
- Pick up litter
- Care for the garden
- Do not build structures or paths
- Do not hang up laundry to dry
- Supervise children
- Leash and clean up after pets
- Get permission
- Respect others’ privacy
Read on to learn more about these expectations in greater detail.
11 Rules For Communal Gardens In Flats
Rules for communal gardens in flats are typically formed by a board consisting of tenant representatives and the landlord.
To know the rules, tenants need to either refer to their tenancy agreement or contact the landlord for clarification if there’s any dispute.
Rules in a communal garden can offer benefits such as the following:
- Sense of community and respect
- Reduction of tension amongst tenants when there are established rules
- Opportunity to grow your own plants
- Space for socialising and forming friendships
- Safe area for a quiet retreat
- Increased property value
Following a set of communal rules allows everyone to enjoy the garden without disruption.
While tenant agreements may vary, the following rules are typically implemented for communal gardens.
1. Maintain Low Noise Levels
Tenants should refrain from creating unacceptable noise disturbances from loud music, fighting, or barking dogs.
According to the Department for Environment, Rural, and Environmental Affairs excessive or loud noise should not interfere with the enjoyment of an area or cause health concerns.
Generally, environmental noise should not be greater than 34 decibels (dBA). Whispering is about 30 dBA, a refrigerator’s hum is 50 dBA, and tweeting birds are up to 70 dBA.
Therefore, if you are louder than the birds during the day, then you are likely creating excessive noise.
Additionally, excessive or loud noise is not permitted from 11:00 pm through 7:00 am.
Tenants need to refrain from using or allowing the following noisy activities in a garden:
- Excessive dog barking
- Loud music
- Sound equipment
- Parties (without permission of the landlord)
- Screaming children
- Power tools
- Anti-social behaviour (aggressiveness, fighting, etc.)
Landlords and tenants will typically try to resolve noise issues before resorting to authorities. Many landlords have a clause in tenancy agreements that could be a breach of contract if you create excessive noise.
Once authorities are involved, offenders are subject to fines up to £1,000 and the involvement of the police.
Excessive noise tolerance can vary from individual to individual. Therefore, it is best to be mindful of neighbours.
If someone makes a complaint about you making noise, try to resolve it by reducing your noise level the next time you are in the garden.
2. Criminal Activity Is Prohibited
Any type of criminal activity is prohibited in the UK, and this includes communal gardens.
Criminal activity puts everyone at risk, lowers the quality of life, and subjects people to unnecessary trauma.
While nude sunbathing is not illegal in all areas, if it disturbs, alarms, or distresses neighbours, you can be held accountable.
3. No Smoking
Smoking is generally prohibited in communal gardens as the smoke can disturb other tenants and neighbouring properties.
However, refer to your tenancy agreement, there may be designated areas or an overall allowance for smoking.
4. No Cooking Or Flammable Materials
Barbeques may not be allowed due to the smells and smoke of the food potentially disturbing others.
Seek permission first from the landlord, tenants, and neighbouring properties before using a communal garden to cook.
Fuel containers and other flammable materials also pose a risk of fire to other tenants. Therefore, these may not be able to be stored anywhere in the building or on shared property.
5. Pick Up Litter
Tenants should each take care not to litter in the garden. It should be clean and tidy.
If you find offending litter, help each other out and pick it up.
Leaving food scraps out invites pests and rodents in, making the garden an unsanitary or unwelcoming place.
Treat gardens like parks with a “carry-in, carry-out” mentality if you enjoy your lunch in the garden.
5. Care For The Garden
Communal areas should be free and clear of obstacles so that a fall or fire hazard is not created. If you leave items in harm’s way, they may be disposed of without your permission to keep everyone safe.
If you are responsible for a section in the communal garden, take care to keep it tidy. If your garden area causes damages or issues with another tenant’s area, they may file a claim for damages against you.
Caring for the garden may include the following:
- Follow rules about what and where you can plant according to the agreement.
- Control aggressive plants, such as Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica) and other vines and weeds.
- Keep hanging baskets well maintained and watered.
- Water and feed plants so that they are healthy.
- Put away gardening tools each time you use them.
- Do not leave shoes, toys, bicycles, prams, and other non-garden items in the area.
- Do not pick vegetation from other tenants’ sections.
- Do not install fencing that is higher than permitted (typically more than 1 or 2 metres)
Your tenancy agreement may require that you help to maintain the garden. Make sure you know and understand the expectations.
You can take pictures of the garden at the beginning of and throughout your lease so that when you leave you have a record of your contribution.
If you are unable to maintain your portion of the garden, you will be responsible for hiring and paying someone else to care for it. Make sure this gardener knows the expectations and rules.
Often tenancy agreements will include who takes care of the grass, overgrown bushes, and tree pruning and trimming.
The landlord may use landscaping professionals or provide lawn maintenance equipment to the tenants.
If the landlord has hired a professional for the garden, this is paid for by service fees in your tenancy agreement.
6. Do Not Build Structures Or Paths
Fencing, paths, patios, statues, gazebos, greenhouses, trampolines, and storage-type structures may be prohibited in the garden. Refer to your agreement and seek permission if you wish to use structures or paths.
If you are granted permission, make sure the structure follows local area requirements in height and location.
Additionally, the tenant is responsible for the upkeep, repair, and loss or damage as a result of the structure.
7. Do Not Hang Up Laundry To Dry
Some communal gardens do not allow laundry to hang up and dry outside.
The flapping noise of drying laundry can be disruptive. The sight of it can impact others’ enjoyment of the shared space.
8. Supervise Children
Children should not be in the garden unsupervised. Make sure your children are not running around or creating excessive noise in this area.
When you are with them, teach and model the rules of the garden to continue to foster an area that deserves respect.
9. Leash And Clean Up After Animals (Dogs, Cats, Wild Birds)
All dogs should be on a leash in shared and public areas. They should be under control at all times in a communal garden. Make sure your dog does not excessively bark or growl at other people or dogs.
Pick up your animal’s faeces and discard the bag. Do not let your dog defecate on or roam in other people’s sections of the garden.
This prevents animal attacks and the spread of disease.
If you are allowed to have an outdoor cat, clean up after it as well. Supervise it so it does not dig in other people’s gardens. Cats are also a major threat to birds and can disrupt the peace of the garden.
Even though birds are wild creatures, do not hang up birdhouses or bird feeders without permission. These can invite in other pests and predators.
10. Get Permission
If you wish to alter the garden, have a picnic with a group of friends, host a party, and so on, you should seek permission from the landlord first.
Under certain circumstances, you may be able to have a party with some noise or modify the garden in a way that benefits everyone.
When in doubt, it is best to check first to avoid potential problems later.
11. Respect Others’ Privacy
When enjoying the garden, others may be seeking a quiet place of refuge. Be cordial and friendly, but also give them privacy. Take turns using the shared space if you sense a neighbour wishes to be alone.
If you are using the garden for a landlord-approved party, make sure the other tenants know that you are using the space as well.
Avoid using the space often for your personal use in this way, so others can also enjoy the garden. In other words, do not selfishly “hog” the garden.
A communal garden in a flat brings in a sense of shared responsibility and community.
However, make sure you are well aware of your responsibilities and the rules in caring for the garden.
Rules include making sure you fulfil your responsibilities in tending to the garden, and keeping it weed and litter-free. You should also be respectful of others by cleaning up after animals, not smoking or cooking, and keeping the noise level down.
If you do not attend to the garden rules, you put yourself at risk of conflict and tension, fines, charges, or eviction.