Being charged for Gardening, but it's not done.
31/05/2011 10:31 am
I am currently renting a private house and I have been charged gardening services since I moved in last November at £40 per month, for the bank and hedge maintenance, I mow the lawns myself. Although I have been charged this amount no gardening has been completed.
The tenancy agreement does not specify that it will only be done between certain months, but the landlord is now saying that they are going to start it in June.
The garden is now overgrown and is unusable, but I’ve just been told by the letting agency that I should have let them know that it was a problem and now can't say that it is, although the lease agreement clearly states that the landlord is responsible for keeping this.
Where do I stand with this, I would like to get a discount or rebate, as I believe I've been conned, but the letting agency are saying that the landlord is within their rights not to have started gardening until now.
Any help or advice would be appreciated.
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31/05/2011 12:02 pm
you mention the agreement does not state that the garden will only be maintained in certain months - at the same time then it wont state that it will be done year round. you should have questioned this prior to signing the agreement.
to be honest i would expect no gardening to be done over the winter and for them to start in summer (june) sounds reasonable to me.
the bit i am struggling with is that you agreed to pay £480 a year for someone else to cut the hedge in the garden of the house you are renting!! this sounds like a case of reading the small print.
31/05/2011 12:08 pm
At the time, the agents stated that the agreement was with a company and already signed and it included the border maintanance and the hedges, the garden is quite large, so it didn't seem expensive. We have subsequently found that no agreement was signed and the payment was obviously made up. We do read the small print, but also have to take the word of the agents, when we are told that an agreement was in place.
31/05/2011 12:22 pm
forgive me if my first post seemed unsympathetic - having re-read it it does sound it.
i am not trying to say that it is purely your fault for not reading the contract, however this may highlight an important lesson not to believe people saying they have a contract - you should have been entitled to written evidence of the agreement, seeing as payment is your liability, and that this agreement was in place prior to you taking on the tenancy - this may be your best route to recouping of cost now. but i would stress it is highly unlikely.
if the agent claimed that there was an exsisting agreement, commited to by the owner, or them on their behalf, for the maintenance of the garden and that they would like to recoup that cost from you as an amenedment to your tenancy and there was in fact no agreement. this could be argued to be deception to obtain. i would suggest a good solicitor, but consider carefully the cost of persuing this, both financially and time - maybe chalk it up to experience. dont renenw the contract at the end of the current term and look to move with a more reputable agent.
if they are a member of NAEA, ARLA or any other regulatory body you could consider a complaint to them about the agents conduct.
31/05/2011 3:13 pm
Thank you for the response, no offence taken. I've asked the CAB and Shelter, both of which say I don't really have any recourse even if there was an existing agreement in place. Do you think I am entitled to a copy of the contract they have with the gardener, as that seems like the best step forward. Thanks again for any advivce you can offer.
31/05/2011 3:35 pm
if a) you are paying the £40 direct to the company (gardener) that is maintaining the garden, then yes you have a right to see the documentary evidence of what service you are paying for - or at the least receipts.
b) you are paying the agent then this depends on 1) does it simply state in your tenancy that "£40 per month is a contribution to grounds maintenance" or 2) that you are paying specifically for grounds maintenance as a seperate charge to the rent of the property - this is important as if 2) then you are entitled to see what swervice you are paying for (a breakdown if you will) or to have some form of receipt for monies paid and for what services.
CAB and Shelter aren't the best (IMO) I would speak to ARLA as, as i say, if the agent is a member they will investigate as a breach of conduct.
again. a lot of this will take up your time, resource and frankly. if it were me. i'd weigh up for the sake of it if i could be bothered to pursue them.
if they do a decent job of the garden over the summer months, maybe its not too bad value after all....
all the best.
31/05/2011 3:41 pm
Thank you for the reply. The exact transcript on the Tenancy Agreement is as follows. 'Gardening Services - The tenant will be charged £40.00 pcm as a contribution towards hedge and bank maintenance.' This charge is on top of the rent we pay monthly for the property, as we believed it was a separate agreement that was already in place with a gardener, we didn't quible this.
31/05/2011 3:58 pm
Is the garden sole use for your house? only this sounds like a clause for a shared garden....
as it is in your tenancy as an additional payment seperate to rent, which you signed, you will be legally bound to pay it. really there should have been more to it than that - like frequency of this maintenance / who will do it etc. however you didnt ask, they didnt tell.
the only other thing i can think of - and this is clutching at straws a little - is that if your tenancy states within it that the rent payable os for use of the property / dwelling and associated land and gardens then you could, i stress could argue that you aqre already paying for this gardening service within the rent. i doubt you would find any solicitor willing to take that on however.
without expanding further, my advice here - for whats its worth - is to take this one on the chin. next time, clarify everything in writing and in detail. sorry. i just personally wouldnt see milage in stressing over it now when there is a legally signed document. plus - making enemies of your agent isn't advisable - they can be a pain in the rear if they want!
31/05/2011 4:08 pm
No the garden is not shared use, it's just for us. I think I am going to just pay it and not waste any more time on this. Thanks again for you advice.