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Property Law - National Garden Scheme

I have recently bought a home with extensive gardens that have previously been opened to the public for a weekend each Summer. I am happy to do the same, but am concerned about the potential consequences should a visitor have an accident or cause any damage to the garden or my property.

Opening your garden to the public could be a great way to get to know your neighbours and embrace your new local community. You might consider charging a small entrance fee and setting up a stall to sell afternoon teas and any spare home-grown plants to raise funds for the local community or for charity. However, opening your garden will require careful planning. Thought should be given to how any damage or accidents could best be prevented on the day, for example by clearing steps and pathways and clearly signposting potential hazards such as ponds or hosepipes. It would also be prudent to ensure that the house is secured and any items of value removed from the garden where possible.

Will I need to obtain specific insurance?

You should certainly notify your household insurer that you will be opening your garden and you should ensure that all your personal property is adequately covered, even down to the contents of your shed. However, your household insurance will not cover any injury to visitors or volunteers and you will need to obtain separate public liability insurance to cover these risks. If public liability insurance is too pricey or proves difficult to obtain privately, you could consider opening your garden through a registered scheme, such as the National Garden Scheme, which has its own insurance which will provide you with cover for the day the garden is open. 

Do I need to get any specific permission from my local authority?

No specific consents or licences will be required assuming that you limit refreshments to tea and coffee rather than alcohol. You should however ensure that food is prepared and stored in accordance with the appropriate regulations and that you take into account practicalities such as parking on the day so as not to fall out with your new neighbours.

This article first appeared in the Financial Times on 25 June 2016.

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