Tenant responsibility re gardener

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    Tenant responsibility re gardener

    Please excuse this for a rather long question.

    I have lived in this house for 16 years and the tenancy became periodic in 2002. The house has a large garden and as I am not interested in gardens I agreed to pay part of my rent towards gardening services. Initially this was £20 pm.

    The landlord lived near and was right on the gardening service so it was done regularly. More recently she has moved further away and is spending a lot of time abroad, so an agency is now managing the house.

    From April 2015 I have had NO gardening services. I was promised in September 2015 and again in November 2015 by the agent that the garden would be “tidied up” for winter but nothing was done.

    I am particularly concerned about the state of a large shrubby tree near the front gate. Many of the branches are hanging out low and obscuring the driveway. This could constitute a danger during the dark winter months combined with a wet slippery path. It is a miracle that none of my delivery people had ever collided with it. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

    I have again been on at the agent by email for the past 3 weeks. I have sent pictures of the state of the garden (and the tree) which is now looking very overgrown and neglected. I just want it tidying up a few times a year – not expecting the grass to be cut every 2 weeks. I am elderly and disabled and incapable of taking on these tasks.

    I have been getting the run around by the agent, or rather the gardener the agent employs, with two missed appointments. The gardener did turn up eventually to see what work needed doing (and to give the agent an estimate) but I suspect he has been put off by the amount of work involved.

    I am most worried about the overhanging tree in case it does cause an accident. While this is not my responsibility (I’ve already reminded the agent that it’s not I who would be sued) I would not really wish this upon the landlord with whom I had a good relationship until she farmed out the responsibility to the agent.

    However the fact is I am paying for a service I am not receiving. This means that the agent/landlord is in breach of contract. Do I have any recourse to claiming reimbursement of what I have paid towards this service which has not been forthcoming for the past year?

    #2
    Has your rent not gone up since 2002?

    IIWY, I'd pay for the gardener yourself, and not rock the boat.

    Comment


      #3
      Yes my rent has gone up several times since I moved in. It went up by £50 pm last January. Maybe I should have said I was not paying any more until the garden was sorted out.

      I was told by a friend that I should obtain 3 estimates and get the garden done myself and invoice the agents or deduct from the rent.

      Why should I myself pay for a service which is supposed to be provided? If I let the garden grow wild and someone damaged themself because of the tree its the landlord who will get sued. I can prove Ive asked the LL to discharge their responsibility.

      I consider that I have been very reasonable and patient!

      Comment


        #4
        In #1 you state "I agreed to pay part of my rent towards gardening services"so did your rent increase by £20 in Jan/Feb 01 to cover garden services, or not?
        When did you first move in?

        As the garden is part of the property you rent, I think it would be you resp for any injury in the first instance.
        You cannot withhold any due rent without first notifying LL (via LA) that you intend to withhold £x / mo from next due rent (min 1 month hence), then engage a gardener (at own expense) to 'tidy' the garden/bush. Then deduct the cost from future rent and provide LL with his paid Invoice.
        Try to negotiate a nominal rent reduction, to help you with paying someone to look after the garden.

        You are renting, not an owner-occupier. Harsh but true.

        Comment


          #5
          The original rent when I moved in was £500 pm and I agreed to pay £520 - the extra £20 being for "gardening services". So the payment for gardening was incorporated into my rent. Since that time the LL employed various gareners to look after the garden and there was never any question of my having to do so. It is after all a tax deductable business expense for LL.

          Gardening services ceased in April 2015 when the then gardener said he was not coming to this area any more. The LL did try to find another gardener but things just lapsed when she began to spend less and less time in this country. The agents have a gardener they employ and told me back in November "we have found someone to take over the garden". However nothing has been done.

          So I do not see how responsibility for the dangerous tree is mine when the LL had been content for the previous 14 years to maintain the garden.

          Comment


            #6
            Do you have any paperwork that states 'rent includes gardening services'?
            What is your rent today?
            AFAIK .Garden is not part of the rented property that LL has a duty to maintain, even if provided in past. What does AST state
            about 'additional Services 'provided?
            If you disliked gardens so much, why did you rent a property with a large one?

            Anyway you have mine & JKO's advice. Take it or leave it!

            Comment


              #7
              Before I moved in in 2001 I was given the choice by the agent of maintaining the garden myself or paying the extra for “gardening services.” I chose to pay for the gardening. That was part of my contract for the original AST and the tenancy has continued on a periodic basic with the LL providing gardening services until mid 2015. Neither I nor LL has repudiated that arrangement. So it is still part of my contract with LL that they are responsible for maintaining the garden. Just as it is part of the cntract that I have to pay my rent on time and keep LL informed of any repairs.defects.

              If I noticed some defect like a wobbly flag on my drive or loose guttering which could constitute a danger to visitors I would quickly inform the LL/agent that these matters needed attention. It would then be their responsibility (not mine) to fix them. I would have behaved in a tenant like manner by informing them promptly. It is LLs responsibility to maintain the structure of the property and LL also has had a contractual responsibility from the onset to maintain the garden. So I don’t accept its my responsibility if someone injures themselves by colliding with the tree any more than it would be if a piece of loose guttering (which I had reported) injured a passer by.

              Comment


                #8
                If you haven't already write (yes, WRITE! - keep copy) a calm polite letter to the landlord (yes, LANDLORD, copy agent) pointing out the issue and askin him to inform you of his plan to rectify.

                Recognise that since someone's Housing Act 1988 Section 21 a landlord can evict you for no reason at all: Even if you are perfect tenant, pay in full on-time, look after the place, neighbours love you.....
                I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

                Comment


                  #9
                  My understanding of the Deregulation Act 2015 is that where you have a tenancy, with deposits taken before April 2007, but was not protected, and the tenancy has since become periodic after that date, the deposit must now be protected and the prescribed information must be served. LL has a 90 day period of grace to do this – i.e. until 23 June 2015. If LL protects the deposit and serves the Prescribed Information (PI) (s213 notice) within this time, the deposit will be treated as if it had always been protected. If LL does not then they will be in breach – with no excuses! LL will be barred from evicting using a section 21 notice and subject to a fine of up to 3 times the original deposit.

                  My deposit has never been placed in a protected scheme not have I ever been issued with the prescribed information.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    They could still return the deposit and then evict you.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Your understanding is correct: It's not so much "fine" but you can sue landlord for up-to deposit.

                      But as JK0 says, if landlord returns deposit, then serves fresh valid s21, he can evict you.

                      You may be interested to hear Scotland is abolishing the equivalent-of-s21 north of the border...
                      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

                      Comment


                        #12
                        This is probably the reason why previously "no fault" tenants stop paying the rent when they get a section 21 notice and play the system out for months, costing the LL thousands.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Yes I was aware the law had changed in Scotland. I wonder how long before that happens here!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            If the landlord is meant to be providing a service and is not, they are in breach of their agreement.

                            I would suggest that you propose to the agent that you will a) cease to pay the additional fee for a service you are not receiving and b) if you are forced to pay for the work to be done by someone else will seek to recover those costs from the landlord.
                            The agent should be aware (but probably aren't) that a garden that is left to itself will take a lot to get back under control, one that is regularly maintained is easier to manage.

                            The practical issue is likely to be that £20 a month won't pay for a gardener.
                            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).

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Tenant responsibility re gardener

                              A few months ago I employed a gardener (recommended by the agent) to work on my properties and decided to make a tour to see the standard of work. I was not very pleased with it. There were weeds poking up from the gravel and leaves and litter on the paths.

                              In one property I caught the T putting out the bins and asked her a number of questions about how often he came, how long he stayed, what work he did, etc. The T appeared very defensive and was clearly annoyed that I had come upon her “without an appointment”. She accused me of “ambushing” her and “giving her the third degree”. She also said that the gardener was my employee, not hers. She was “not a snitch” and “did not feel comfortable” keeping tabs on someone when it was not her responsibility. She said “Im happy to discuss the property with you but it must be by prior arrangement with a proper appointment. You have my email address.” Then went into the house rather abruptly and shut the door.

                              I don’t have any complaints about the T. She has been in place for going on 15 years, pays regularly and causes no problems. I/the agent only hear from her when there is a repair needed, But is it unreasonable of me to expect her to take more interest in the outside appearance of the property?

                              She says “I know nothing about gardening” and is satisfied "so long as it looks reasonably tidy”.

                              Clearly we have different standards as to what constitutes a well kept garden.

                              Comment

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