Ah, renting. The process most Millennials and coming-of-age Zennialls are stuck in because we can’t afford to buy property. It comes with such a fun range of surprises! Will anybody ever come fix this sink? Who knows! Will my rent suddenly shoot up for no reason? We’ll see! Will I get my deposit back? Probably not!

But one thing we tend to think about less is the question of what happens when the RENTER makes improvements to a property they don’t own? Reddit user GardeningMonster found herself in such a conundrum, as outlined by her post on r/AmItheA**hole:

AITA for bringing my garden with me when I moved?

I F(25) have been renting a house since I was 18 (7 years). When I moved in, the backyard was a large piece of dirt, no lawn or anything, just a decently big backyard with a fence all around. It was a cheap but not great house, but I signed because I wanted the backyard space.

Over the past few years I erected a small garden shed, greenhouse and pizza oven (transportables), planted lots of veggie gardens in big transportable garden beds, and put down some nice pavers, an aquaponics set up, and generally made the backyard a really green and beautiful place to be. It became the green oasis all my friends gathered at.

A few months ago, my landlords let me know they were planning to sell, and my final move out day was a week ago. When I left, I brought my garden with me to my new place – nothing in my last backyard was directly planed into the ground, and nothing permanent. I dismantled the sheds and greenhouse, loaded up all the pots and garden beds onto a truck and cleared the backyard in three days with lots of help.

My former landlords are furious over this, and demand that I return the backyard to the former state – apparently they’d listed the house for sale with pictures of the backyard and potential buyers were walking away from the house when they saw the barren backyard. They’re accusing me of stealing their plants, and wrecking the backyard.

Legally I’m fine – my contract said I could garden, and I have photos from the first real estate walkthrough before I moved in that show that the backyard was in the same state as I first found it (although with more fertile soil now probably). The same real estate agent signed off my final inspection, and I got my deposit back.

I’ve received mixed responses though, because I saw the landlords taking pictures of my backyard before I left but didn’t make the connection because imho when pictures of a house has furniture in it, you don’t expect to also get free furniture. Some of my coworkers suggested that IATA because the house valuation certainly has fallen dramatically because I didn’t tell them I was taking my garden with me, so they couldn’t plan to landscape before lockdown hit.

Tl;dr AITA for moving my garden that I build from my former rental house into my new house, upsetting my former landlords who didn’t expect me to take it with me?


Well, that was a wild ride! What did everybody have to say?

The verdict was pretty unanimous: you’re good, OP.

Some had the same thought I did…

Others suggested that she offer to recreate her work for a fee.

Variations of this story are all too common.

I paid for it, why should the landowner get to keep it for free?

As they say, “sucks to suck.”

Remember: make sure you can take it with you.

Even this Realtor agreed.

What kind of landlord wouldn’t at least think to ask?

This person learned a lesson the hard way…

Maybe this opened up a lot of potential.

Plant a seed, watch it grow.

The more you think about it, the more it’s clear they were just hoping she wasn’t as savvy as she ended up being.

Don’t forget about the time investment.

Nothing worse than when your dumb scam fails, huh?

Pretty much no dissent in the whole thread. The internet has agreed: if you built the garden, you take the garden. No guilt.

Have you run into a situation like this?

Tell us about it in the comments.