Lawns ruined and tenant is refusing to pay?

by Readers Question

3 years ago

Lawns ruined and tenant is refusing to pay?

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Lawns ruined and tenant is refusing to pay?

My tenant has been in two years and in that time has totally neglected the two small lawns at the back of the house to the extent where they need completely re-turfing. One is literally all moss and the other just dandelions.lawn

They were always weed prone lawns and were not by any means weed free when she took the tenancy, but as I say, they are now ruined. I now want to sell the house and when I told her, she then mentioned the lawn. She was planning to have the back section re-turfed or reseeded and had had a quote but is saying she won’t pay for it now, because I am selling soon and she doesn’t see why she should pay for me to have a better lawn than she took over just so I could get a good price.

I have told her that the upkeep of the garden is her responsibility and it’s in her contract, but she claims it was really bad to start with. I wish I’d taken photos! She has offered to make a contribution however.

On inspecting the interior, I noticed two holes in the stair carpet which clearly had been caused by her cat. She is not disputing those but wants to get her own carpet quotes.

Foolishly I only took the basic months rent deposit of £650 even though I was allowing the cat and if push comes to shove, this won’t cover the carpet and the lawns. She has said she will fight me if I try to retain her deposit for the lawns even though I never even mentioned taking it out of her deposit.

I wish I had insisted during previous visits that she made more effort with the garden as I suspected she wasn’t touching it but I’ve not been for a year or so (again stupid of me) and had no idea it had got this bad. I had had conversations along the lines of, why don’t you get a company to come and do a ‘feed and weed like I used to do when I lived here and yes, you do need to try to keep on top of the mowing. She didn’t have a mower at all at first. The lawn and borders are on the inventory on one line and again, stupidly, I allowed her to write ‘overgrown’.

Presumably because the borders were not very neat and had a few weeds in them. The lawns were cut and neat and tidy though. I’m concerned she will use this to try to say they were already in is state. I told her she should have told me earlier but she said she didn’t want to bother me. Any problems she has had though, I have dealt with in a prompt and friendly way so I don’t know why she would say that. Reading back over this, I sound really foolish.

Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks

Emma



Comments

Luke P

3 years ago

Unless they've run a bulldozer over the lawns, I'd say this is all very subjective and you have not a single hope of getting any redress.

Sorry this is quite a dismissive response but I have a wealth of experience with the Courts and you will get nowhere. Tidy them up a bit and re-rent.

Quite honestly, and I really do not mean to sound derogatory, but based on this alone, you are not cut out to be a landlord.

Sam Addison

3 years ago

I have heard that if you have not provided equipment to maintain the garden (e.g. lawn Mower) then any attempt to claim from the deposit on these grounds will fail.

Have you considered selling with tenant in place through this page?

money manager

3 years ago

Is re turfing before sale really neccessary? Cut the grass/weed ultra short and the phots will probably look okay and who knows, the purchaser might want to pave the lot.

Emma Pattwell

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Luke P" at "20/08/2015 - 12:57":

Thanks Luke, you are right, it's not my thing. It only worked out that way because I needed to sell it a few years back and it wasn't worth what I paid. I take things too personally and trust people too much and have too much else on my plate to keep a close enough eye. I don't want to re rent I want out now!

Emma Pattwell

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Sam Addison" at "20/08/2015 - 13:12":

I didn't know you could do that! Thanks! I was thinking of maybe seeking to another landlord.

Emma Pattwell

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "money manager" at "20/08/2015 - 13:14":

I don't think you'd get away with that...it's literally all dandelions... There's barely a blade of grass in the lawn. I've read that you can include gardening in the rent and put in the contract that it will be done so if I can't sell it as I plan then I might do that.

Luke P

3 years ago

There's a huge misconception by hobby landlords (and understandably so, as common sense would surely dictate) that you can reasonably expect a property to be returned in the same condition as when you let it out.

This is not true. Aside from wear and tear (which can be stretched further than you may think), there's also proving it and having a Judge take your side on the matter. I've even had a Judge completely agree with a very large iron burn in the centre of a carpet, only to state that the burn was no more than 5% of the total carpet area, in which case would only be awarding 5% of the cost of a replacement.

Honestly, a weed-filled lawn is such a first world problem and once a tenant puts pen to paper on that tenancy, has a lot more rights (undeserved, unjust and unfair rights) that these sorts of things have literally become naturalised as 'just a part of being a landlord'.

I learned all of this the hard way too, over the past 25+ years, but it hasn't changed in that time and will likely not change going forward. It's nothing like staying in a hotel room where if damage were left it would be charged to your credit card and all's done and dusted.

Any common sense you apply to the situation just forget. They system is weighted in tenants' favour.

Rotavate it and sprinkle on some seed. It'll be through in no time, will look relatively neat and potential buyers will see that and probably appreciate a 'fresh' new lawn (even if it is only sprouting at the time of their viewing). You can hire a power digger (rotavator) for £40 and less than a tenner for a box of seed. Job done.

NEXT!

Luke P

3 years ago

View it this way...a car hire company does not expect to pass a vehicle that has just been returned direct to the next customer.

The company don't expect it to be smashed to pieces, but do expect to empty the rubbish, expect the engine to be that little bit more worn, the tyres to have a little less tread, maybe even some minor scratches and to fully wash the car before the new customer takes it. This is all part of the hire cost of course and we landlords should reflect this in the price of the rent of our houses, but that is rarely the case.

matchmade

3 years ago

Tenants can very rarely be trusted to look after lawns, let alone do anything else such as pruning or deadheading: they do as little work as humanly possible because in the end, it's not their property and everyone has different standards as regards gardening.

I'm afraid I agree with the other responses here: without providing a lawnmower and without cast-iron evidence from a third party like an inventory clerk about exactly how many weeds were in the lawn and exactly what training you provided, you won't have a leg to stand on with a deposit tribunal. They will take the view that you can't expect a tenant to have the same standards as you, nor should you expect them to purchase and lug a mower around from rented house to rented house, along with all their other stuff.

Emma Pattwell

3 years ago

Thanks everyone so much for your advice...I will just have to try and get as much of a contribution as I can from her towards both the lawn and the carpet and cut my losses. She is now saying she will only pay for only the section of carpet ruined by the cat to be replaced...dont know how that will look....I may have to pay the majority of the cost to replace it myself. I don't know how much if anything I can get her to agree to over the lawn so again I am going to be left with the majority of the cost of a new lawn. My worry now is that when these jobs are done, she will let the turf die and the cat will wreck the carpet again and I'll be back to square one. I could serve notice now and limit the amount of time she has to potentially wreck the new lawn and carpet but I will risk having nobody in there at all while its on the market and I don't know how long it will take to sell. I can't afford to pay the mortgage with no rent coming in for long. The cat is kept permanently indoors and the house smells of cat wee which is going to put potential buyers off and I'm also worried that she won't cooperate with viewings...any advice re. selling with a tenant in situ? Should I serve notice now? She is accusing me of trying to take advantage of her and get her to pay for the house to be spruced up for sale. I have a feeling she might have been down this road with a landlord before...she mentioned something at her check in as I recall but I felt sorry for her the way she described it. She was really pernickety with the inventory sharing it was because her last landlord had tried to cheat her. It was annotated so much that it made the place sound in a right state which it wasn't.

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