Liable for rubbish left probably by sub let tenant

by Readers Question

9:27 AM, 25th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Liable for rubbish left probably by sub let tenant

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Liable for rubbish left probably by sub let tenant

My partner is freeholder to a building – a shop and 2 flats. The flats are both owned by leaseholders and are both sub let. The flats have access to a shared bin store.food

A neighbour has been complaining that bin bags are left in the store and never put out for collection. They smell, as whoever leaves them puts food in the bags.

The neighbour did, for a while, bag them in bags the correct colour to be collected and put them out himself. He then ran out of bags and does not want to pay for more.

We contacted the tenants and leaseholders when we received the first complaint, all deny putting rubbish in the store. Although interestingly the bags changed to the correct colour for a while after the initial notice. So the neighbour was able to put them out for collection.

We are now back to black bags. We know that we are responsible as the property owner for disposing of the rubbish, but do not want to be lumbered by the cost and effort for ever more. He is now getting very angry about the smell and the lack of resolution. So right now we are facing the prospect of having to pay to remove the rubbish every fortnight for the rest of our lives and have no way to recover costs as no-one admits responsibility.

We know who is doing it, but do not have usable evidence. It is apparently illegal to open rubbish on property that the dumper has access to as it is still classed as private property. I am wondering if we are given in writing statements that say none of them own the bags it becomes legal for us to open them and prove who is responsible and start to issue the correct notices?

Although based on this background I think we will fail with that also…
The tenant in question has in the past broken many other rules including smoking in the communal hallway, dealing drugs from the flat and causing noise nuisance to name the serious ones. Sadly after spending several thousand pounds we are informed we do not have enough legal right to do anything to anyone. All these issues are too trivial and difficult to enforce or deal with. The landlord (leaseholder) is on the side of the tenant because they receive their rent and sticks to the line that there is no evidence of the tenant doing wrong.

On top of this, we did report the tenant to the police for dealing and a guest of a neighbour who entered the property by mistake (first visit), wrote a witness statement that they were offered drugs in the flat. We also reported him to the DWP because he is working cash in hand and claiming benefits.

We informed the leaseholder of the issues, but instead of dealing with the tenant he instead gave copies of our exchanges so the tenant knows we reported him to the police and DWP. He has been intimidating and partner has been abused in the street. But unfortunately this is too trivial to legally deal with.

I really hope someone can offer a suggestion, otherwise we are going to have to sell and move because my partner is about to have a breakdown over this and her business is suffering hugely as she avoids going to her shop to work. The access to the cellar is through the communal hallway and she will not go there out of fear of being attacked by drug users that hate her.

I am only really looking for help with the bin bag issue, the rest is just beyond hope really.

Thanks

Bob



Comments

Gary Dully

11:17 AM, 25th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Hang on a minute..., if I have read your post correctly,

You are the Freeholders, so in theory your leaseholders must be in breach of local by-laws, in which case - get in touch with Environmental Health, explaining the situation and ask them to take to task the leaseholders or tenants.

(EG. You could be residents in Switzerland or South Africa so you shouldn't be involved at all at this stage.)

The leaseholders will then take to task their tenants, because if they don't, they will be prosecuted by the council.

The leaseholders will be obliged to get the situation sorted.

I have just had to clear up a dumping ground of a back garden in Birkenhead by the local officer, I don't own the property, it's on a rent to rent agreement and I am viewed as responsible as the previous tenant has done a runner, that's why the previous landlord gave up and did a rent to rent.

I don't pick fights with the councils and they tend to be flexible when you cooperate.

Florance Kennedy

15:00 PM, 25th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Sounds like CCTV might give you the evidence you require, but I expect you have considered this and rejected it?

David Price

15:17 PM, 25th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Install CCTV, recorder plus half a dozen cameras for about £600. Hide everything, cameras, wiring (preferably use wireless) and recorder.

You may not be legally permitted to open the rubbish bags but who can stop the local foxes obliging when you leave the bags out? You will then have to clear up the mess and may inadvertently see an odd address!

Drug dealing report to the police on every occasion, even if this means ten times a day. You will eventually get the empty threat that you are wasting police time but don't be intimidated keep reporting. I have been threatened with criminal prosecution for reporting crime and told to stop because it makes their statistics look bad. I did not stop until some positive action was taken and I am still a free man.

Vlad Gorre

20:35 PM, 25th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Yeah, looking at CCTV. The bin store is in a shared area (with two neighbouring flats. we need to get permission from several other owners to run cable from our property to the location.
We will see if the neighbour making the complaint will run it from his flat solving all the cabling issues. Hopefully he will see sense with this so we can wrap up the issue...

Sadly yet another bill caused by these oiks. Was no choice in being the freeholder when we bought the shop.

Carol Duckfield

11:08 AM, 28th February 2016
About 3 years ago

You might want to investigate the latest anti social behaviour legislation as there are grounds that should be covered by what you have outlined and there are more powers to deal with things - the council will have people responsbile for this activity. If its not dealt with to your satisfaction then there is a trigger function to raise it further
I would also get either enviromental health and/or councils waste department involved

Kate Mellor

12:40 PM, 28th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Have you sought advice from the Leasehold Advisory Service; Lease-advice.org? Also have you carefully read the Leases to determine whether sub-letting is allowed? In our leases its specifically excluded, so may be an angle you could use. Additionally it is usual for leases to preserve the right for Freeholders to pass maintainance costs on to leaseholders proportionally. It will be more motivational for the leaseholder to manage their tenants if it costs them money. You can then take them to small claims court very cheaply if they don't pay & their lease supports you. The other thing to check in the wording is the expectation on the tenant regarding their behaviour. Remember that their sub-tenant represents them & therefore if their sub-tenant breaks these covenants then the leaseholder breaks them. I feel sure you have options and I think the lease wording is the key. a copy should have been provided at the time of purchase, but can also be purchased for a small fee from the land registry.

Vlad Gorre

13:04 PM, 28th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Thanks Carol, we will look at antisocial behaviour legislation.

Environmental Health will not get involved as this is private land. Maybe they would if the neighbour complains but then they will just issue us with a 7 day notice to remove it and not help identify the perpetrator.

David Price

14:33 PM, 28th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Vlad Gorre" at "28/02/2016 - 13:04":

Isn't it easy when, as a Local Authority, you have power but no responsibility. The land owner has legal responsibility but no power.

Vlad Gorre

14:40 PM, 28th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Thanks Kate
Not tried leaseholders advisory service.

We spent £2000 on solicitors for them to uphold the terms of the lease and they said we could not - not because we were wrong but because it is too hard to win in court for small thikngs. We have read the lease in detail and have tried to uphold many parts of it unsuccessfully.
We have a funny lease as well, where we pay 50% of costs.

As for small claims court, I understand that you cannot claim for sums below a certain amount and also a leaseholder is allowed to be a certain amount in arrears before any claims can be brought.
Together that would be a significant number of man in a van removals of the rubbish before we could satisfy making a claim.


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