Responsibility for maintaining garden areas depends on the type of property and the lease agreement.

Tenant responsibilities

Tenants are responsible for general garden maintenance, except for common areas at group sites. Tenants living in cottage flats are responsible for the area immediately behind their cottage flat.

General garden maintenance includes but isn’t limited to:

  • mowing the lawn
  • weeding
  • watering
  • disposal of green waste in council bins, where available
  • aesthetic or seasonal pruning

Tenants can get garden advice from Housing SA, including about:

  • caring for existing trees or vegetation on the site
  • advice on proposed plantings or garden beds

Tenants are responsible for:

  • keeping the garden, common areas and grounds clean and in good condition, for example removing rubbish
  • getting Housing SA’s approval to make structural changes in line with the Tenant alterations procedures, for example erecting a tool shed, installing a rain water tank
  • allowing Housing SA access, for example to carry out maintenance, for inspection
  • leaving the garden in a reasonable condition when their tenancy ends

Tenants can’t:

  • grow vegetation in areas where it damages buildings, drains, paving or fencing
  • allow water to damage building footings
  • remove or sell trees or plants in garden areas without Housing SA’s permission
  • damage any trees or plants growing in garden areas

Housing SA may help tenants establish a low maintenance rear garden at a cottage flat after an assessment.

Housing SA responsibilities

Housing SA will:

  • make sure the garden areas are clean and tidy when the tenant moves into the property
  • maintain common garden areas at group sites

Where Housing SA’s responsible for maintaining garden areas, the work:

  • is carried out by appropriately qualified professionals
  • meets all necessary regulations and standards, for example building codes, technical specifications, Maintenance accommodation standards
  • is carried out with minimum disruption to tenants

Housing SA only removes or prunes trees or shrubs if either:

  • they’re dead
  • they pose a danger to people or property
  • Housing SA assesses that they require pruning or removal

Housing SA won’t approve pruning or removal of trees or shrubs to allow for solar panels to be installed or operated.

Housing SA manages vegetation in line with relevant legal requirements as set out in:

New gardens and upgrades

Housing SA landscapes front yards of newly built properties and common areas in line with the South Australian Housing Trust Minimum design and construction specification for class 1 buildings (PDF, 7.7 MB). Tenants are responsible for establishing the rear garden in new properties.

Housing SA installs irrigation in gardens of newly built properties. The tenant is responsible for irrigating the garden while it’s getting established.

Housing SA assesses whether a common area of a group site requires an upgrade. Upgrades are considered for common garden areas if they would improve the amenity of the site, or remediate damage caused by renovations or construction.

Related information

Controlling documents

This policy is based on and complies with:

Supporting procedures

  • Horticultural procedures v8

Related policies and other documents

Date this policy applies from

15 May 2020

Version number


The online version of the policy is the approved and current version. There’s no guarantee any printed copies are current.