Deposit: Dispute over gardener charge during tenancy

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  • Deposit: Dispute over gardener charge during tenancy

    Good evening,

    My wife and I have recently vacated a property with a mature garden. The check-in inventory states that the garden was overgrown and in need of pruning, mowing and weeding. Our contract states that we should return the garden at the state we received it. During our tenancy we've out a significant effort into the garden and it looked beautiful through the tenancy ( I took lots of sets of photos) and our agents were very pleased with the results. A few months ago the agents came around for an inspection and I asked whether or not the landlord would be willing to get someone in the prune the trees ( very tall conifer and a hazel). The agent got back to us stating that he would. The gardener came around and ignored the trees but cut back a few shrubs. Again, I have photos before and afterwards. I also have the checkout photos which show the garden looking better than when we first moved in.

    Now that we've vacated the landlord is trying to withhold (against the agents advice) £800 of our deposit to pay for the gardener that came around to supposedly cut the trees. Both myself and the agent believed that he intended to pay for this as I was not given the option to consent.

    My question is where do I stand? I currently intend to dispute as he hadn't asked whether I was willing to pay and the garden during the entire tenancy has looked better than when we first moved in, this is a view held by us and the agents. My understanding was that I can't be billed for work I didn't consent to paying for, and that didn't need doing, furthermore I have fulfilled my contractual obligation and returned nthe garden in a similar condition to as I found it. Should also say my deposit is protected with the DPS.



  • #2
    LL can bill you for a professional to repair any perceived T damage/returning garden etc approx. move - in state, whether you agreed to it or not.
    Best to lodge a deposit dispute with DPS ADR, if LL agrees, & let them decide.


    • #3
      Thanks for the response, i appreciate they can do that for perceived damage, to rectify a difference, but I suppose the particular issue here is that the landlord is trying to claim on the deposit for a cost during tenancy, for what was meant to be cutting of his trees. I was under the impression that the landlord cannot bill me for something I've asked for during the tenancy (the cutting of the trees) without me first consenting to pay for it. I also forgot to mention, the house is now being sold.


      • #4
        as mariner says... because this involves the deposit money, your first recourse is to lodge a dispute. I assume you have all communication about the issue and the gardener coming round in writing...


        • #5
          If your contract is worded as you say then I doubt the Landlord has any chance of keeping the money. Just raise a dispute with the DPS. That's what they're there for.


          • #6
            Obviously we only have one side to the story here...

            However the dispute resolution service will hear both sides. If what you say is accurate, and the fact you have lots of pictures to support your case, it sounds like you've a very high chance of the adjudicator being in your favour.

            So lodge your dispute and you should hopefully be fine.


            • #7
              And if you have any emails from the LA starting that they were happy with the garden, then include that as evidence.

              Also, if you have it in writing that the landlord was happy to pay for the cutting of trees, then it would be pretty hard for the landlord to them charge you for that work.

              If the landlord is trying to charge you for the cutting of shrubs, without highlighting to you that the shrubs needs cutting, without giving you the opportunity to cut those shrubs yourself, without getting your agreement that you'd pay for the cutting of the shrubs, without getting competitive quotes for the cutting of these shrubs etc..... They will probably be on sticky ground in my opinion.


              • #8
                Thank you for all the responses, I'm now just waiting on the landlord to provide the agency with final receipts for the work he is claiming and then they will start the dispute.

                I've also, just received the checkout report in which the inventory clerk states that the garden has been left in the same condition as to which it was received, which hopefully will help my case.

                I've also checked back and have emails stating that the agent are happy with the condition of the garden. I don't have much in writing about the gardener unfortunately but do have before and after photos showing the garden looking good 2 days before he arrived. I can also confirm that I wasn't contacted, or gave consent to pay for any gardening work, nor did I recently any quotes.


                • #9
                  It's for you to kick off the dispute process to get your money. Not the agent.

                  You already know they're going to claim for something you don't agree with, so you may as well start the process now.


                  • #10
                    Depending on the scheme, it may be that the landlord has to propose deductions before the tenant can comment.
                    The DPS custodial scheme works like that, for example - the only alternative seems to be for the tenant to start a single claim, which is quite complex.
                    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


                    • #11
                      LL does not have to provide receipts or even do any work.
                      He is just claiming for his perceived loss and ADR will decide if his claim is 'reasonable'.
                      LL may not consent to ADR, to his detriment.
                      The ball is in your court.


                      • #12
                        So we are with DPS so the landlord has to propose deductions before I can comment. The agent is chasing him for receipts for the work he is claiming for, i.e. gardening work that was carried out during the tenancy that I hadn't agreed to pay for. One they have those they are going to put the figure in and then start the process.

                        Jpkeates is correct x the only other option is to start a single claim process.

                        @ mariner; I​​​​​​ realise that he doesn't need receipts, just perceived loss which I feel is the difficult thing with this as our photos and the check-out report all state that their is no difference between check-in and check-out. The only loss is for the gardener he employed during the tenancy that I didn't agree to pay for.


                        • #13
                          Update: now in arbitration, he is claiming my whole deposit £1500. On top of the costs I didn't agree to pay during nthe tenancy he has provided a quote, undated, that states it will cost 900 to cut back the garden however it doesn't mention the original state of the garden at check-in, it is also not itemized.

                          ​Does this seem like a reasonable amount? considering that the pictures in the inventory and checkout report show the garden looks as good as, if not better on checkout, and the inventory clerk has written "in my opinion the garden is in a similar condition to the inventory given seasonal variation" in the check-out report.


                          • #14
                            Wait for ADR decision.


                            • #15
                              the gardener charged £800 for coming round and cutting back a few shrubs? Nice work if you can get it but I wouldnt expect to pay more than £10 an hour - how long was he around?

                              A tree surgeon does charge a lot but if you have pictures showing the trees were not cut he isnt going to be able to claim for that.

                              Check out report doesnt state that the garden is in better condition so perhaps you are not being entirely honest with us.

                              Go through the dispute process, start a claim if you have to. I wouldnt have thought it worth the bother of him trying to claim as on what you say there is no case to retain money.


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