Tenant In Distress – Mowing The Lawn

Tenant In Distress – Mowing The Lawn

15:37 PM, 26th November 2016, About 5 years ago 86

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Tenant In Distress - Mowing The Lawn

Dear Mark,

I hope you don’t mind me contacting, but after doing some research on Google I came across a reply/advice you had given re: Garden Maintenance ” Check with a Landlords Association or a solicitor if you like. If you have a garden and you want the tenants to cut the grass you must provide a lawnmower, that’s the law, regardless of whether the property is furnished or not.” I would greatly appreciate your advice on my personal situation, which obviously relates to garden maintenance. I have been living in a privately rented property for 14 years, yes, it’s become my home, it is immaculate throughout and I’ve often been complimented on this. It was let unfurnished to me by a lovely elderly gentleman, where the property was his mother’s so no mortgage on it, but he wanted to keep it for sentimental reasons and find a good long term tenant who would care for it.

To do this he made the property, which is in a rural village an attractive and low maintenance prospect in an effort to keep a good tenant. I must emphasise I only took this property over another as it was guaranteed I would not have to tend to the garden, which being a bungalow, it is akin to the American style properties with very large front gardens and even larger back gardens. I suspect the garden itself is about 4 times the ground size of the building. The landlord and I got on terrifically well, he would even drop in for cup of tea. I’ve never missed one single months rent, always on time by DD so our working relationship was excellent. Sadly he died in 2014, however it was left to his son where he has taken over as my landlord. My original tenancy ended with the father in 2015. The son visited me and said he didn’t want anything to change, he would continue in the same vain as his father and appreciated I was a good tenant and asked me to stay. All was fine, so I thought. Once I signed the tenancy agreement and he realized he would be paying for the maintenance and upkeep, he changed his mind. He then toyed with doing the garden himself, but then realized the size of mower he would need and the fact he would have to travel a hour over to me, plus the 90 minutes to “just” mow the lawn (you can’t use a flymo on it) so he gave up on that idea and continued to pay the gardener.

This week I receive an invoice from him with his bank details to pay the gardener, no letter with it, just an expectance to pay it. I have refused, and quite frankly I’m shocked after 14 years as a long term tenant. I’m a Baby Boomer, 62, and did not rent this property on the basis of taking on garden maintenance – and two: I have a back problem of worn facet joints where I have twice monthly physio for the last ten years to keep pain free, I can provide proof of this. And now I’m expected to deal with a garden that is far from being made low maintenance to help with the problem. I feel I’m going to lose my home of 14 years which is dreadful, I’m not a new tenant, as a new tenant could at least choose before being in situ if they wanted such a large garden to tend to, the fact is, I don’t have that choice, I’m already in situ. Can you please advise me, I would really appreciate your time. Thank you.

Kind regards,




22:27 PM, 26th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "26/11/2016 - 21:32":

Mark, I gulped when I read your recent posting, and hasten to add I'm so pleased I don't rent in Malta, it sounds really cut throat. Equally I agree, if you're a landlord trying to get rid of an abusive, non-paying tenant it must be a nightmare, and genuinely I feel for those landlords. I always try to step into the shoes of both parties to try and reach a mid-way balance... easier said than done I realize, but I'm in favor of an update to improve the housing market for all parties..yes, landlords too 😉 No seriously, I do think there should be two kinds of tenancies with perhaps slightly different terms. AST for those who want to just rent for a short time, anything from 6 months to 2 years and a longer tenancy anywhere between 2-5 years, so those who want, need, seek a more stable lifestyle and not able to buy for a few years or, if ever, could still feel they have an opportunity to build a home. Of course this doesn't mean one couldn't structure rent rises into those longer periods, but one's that are in affordable increments. I had a friend who is not renting now, who experienced a £80 pcm rise, and no the property wasn't under the average rent for the area, she was renewing every 6 months, and every 6 months something else was added, the last 6 months the £80 rise. That is a huge jump on yearly planning. I also think tenants must be allowed to see their time in a property as home, not a favor by the landlord, and I know I keep using the word HOME, but when you have clauses like, no pictures on the wall, no decorating the property, no pets, which I'm afraid is what people do and want when they have a home. By restricting this and paying rents that are the same as a mortgage or higher, you reduce the "care" someone has towards your property as they have no real input or say, you just feel like a number. I realize I'm making it sound really simple to organize and meet somewhere half way, but I'm sure if someone like yourself who is experienced who listens, is open, approachable could do so much to help change the future of renting. And to scare the hell out of you, I also believe that someone who rents from you for 10, 20 years should be entitled to some small percentage back from their rent IF and when they leave. Otherwise, like me I have put in £151,000 approx, apart from all the little improvements I've made, walks away with zilch, with no benefits at all from renting apart from a roof on the day, where the landlord profits from my rent and has a property growing in worth. It simply isn't right, because one has to rent for a few years they should not be penalized by not being able walk away with something of what they have put in. This would make both parties a little more more equal where they both feel winners from renting. I totally get and understand the awful, abusive tenants will always stand out in your mind and what you have had to kiss goodbye to, but this also applies to genuine hard working people who have supported and given many landlords a better lifestyle. There has to be something of balance that could be introduced that would suit all parties better than we have now. I despair sometimes at some of the ludicrous terms as they are like being dictated to by the gestapo. My feeling is, sorry yet again, if a landlord is so worried about someone in their property by giving them a 101 rules and regulations, then it needs to be addressed. The law also needs to change to help landlords more to move abusive tenants out sooner so it's not long and drawn out and costs them 1000's. I want the BEST for both parties.

by Mark Alexander

22:51 PM, 26th November 2016, About 5 years ago

The law in Malta isn't as wild, Wild West as you might think. That's because people are involved and people are generally good. Landlords and tenants build relationships fromday one and give and take exists. There are no management agents in Malta. Agents only offer an intro service. It works! Yes sure there are bad people on both sides but the rules are good and allow for that.

With regards to letting in the UK, like most professional landlords I want long term tenants. I wanted to be able to distinguish myself from people who just rent their former home because they couldn't sell it. They are the ones who cause the most problems in my experience, often because they promise the earth and fail to deliver because they are cash strapped or decide to sell after six months despite having told a tenant they are looking for a long term let.

For this reason I provide a Deed of Assurance to attract the tenants I want. I've been doing it for years and it works. It is everything you say you would like to have and it is fully compliant with mortgage lending T&Cs, which is always an objection to longer term tenancies. It's a bit of a hybrid of the most protective laws for tenants here in Malta, but I didn't know that when I came up with the idea many years ago. However, the housing charities have refused to promote its use, go figure that one!

More details via this link >>> https://www.property118.com/deed-of-assurance-1/32440/

I also offer my tenants a 5% discount off open market valuation if they buy one of my properties after 7 years in situ.

by Rob Crawford

19:03 PM, 27th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Wow - all that came out of a need to mow a lawn!!


19:27 PM, 27th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rob Crawford" at "27/11/2016 - 19:03":

Thanks Rob, if it were just a " LAWN" and I could buy a flymo or similar for £100 or so, I wouldn't have asked for help. It's a large uneven area with large ant hills throughout and needs an industrial/professional size lawn mower, not one the normal family would buy. I would need to spend a few hundred pounds when I have no intentions of having such a garden ever again. And to add insult to injury having been 14 years in this property, garden maintenance has been part of my tenancy!

by Darlington Landlord

20:36 PM, 27th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Hi Jill
From your friends £80 pcm rent rise comment it sounds like you are around London and the south?. Its easy to assume from the press who tend to focus on London or countrywide averages that property prices will always go up but for many properties in the north east they are below 2006/7 financial crisis levels so please don't assume that you would get a good profit over 10 years. Having said that good luck with your plan to buy.
I totally agree with you on the gardening responsibility, If your tenancy was on that basis then the son should pay the bills until renewal and he would be wise to consider he could stand to loose a lot more if you moved out and he was faced with a large bill for refurbishment to bring the property up to standard (eg central heating) and the risk of a bad tenant.
Loft and cavity wall insulation plus draftproofing is available from most of the big 6 energy companies and you dont have to be a customer just qualify on circumstances and the property needing it.
On the offchance your are actually in the north warmupnorth were installing new gch systems where there was none for under a certain income level but the fund has run out. It may have new funding in April 2017,

by Kath Jones

22:04 PM, 27th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Hi Jill,

As you are a senior financial/legal staff at NHS, reviewing contracts everyday of your life, for probably 40 years, you must know that contracts have terms and conditions, and expiries. Why do you have to look at contracts everyday at work (presumably to check changes and their resonability, especially financial clauses) while you expect your personal rental contract doesn't change? Do you expect to have the same good contractors for 40 years for NHS, which is for life, not accomodation? To me NHS is much much more important and a rental accomodation as it involves life and death!

As a senior staff at NHS, and doesn't seem to have financial problem for buying, why did you choose to rent in a damp house? Is it because the rent is too attractive, much better than paying monthly mortgage? If the answer is No, then I would have big question for NHS financial/legal staff ability. How can they manage public funds while they can't make a sound economic decision for themselves?

As a financial/legal senior staff, you should know full well that if the contract says you don't have to pay for the gardening bill, you can have it sorted at court if needed. Asking question in a forum like this will not sort your problem out, especially when other info is not available.

Now I am not talking about contracts any more, using your argument about why the gardening arragement for 14 years not be continued by the new landlord, can I ask (1) Why NHS funding for so many years have been cut? (2) Why benefits have been cut? (3) Why mortgage fees which have been allowed as expense be discontinued (I was surprised by a tenant, NHS senior staff's deep knowledge on this. Your knowledge and confidence is much more than my landlord friends working in finance)? (4) Why SDLT of 3%? (5) Why did you have a job looking at contracts all your life? and finally, (6) Do you feel you abused the old naive man as I guess you expect the contract to be the same for 14 years, you never approved a rent rise?

Also, do you have your story right? When does/did your contract expire? Apr 16 or Apr 17? If you can be "reading through a tenancy agreement or any agreement is done with a fine toothcomb", and it's a genuine story, you can't make such a beginner's mistake.

I would be suprised as the new landlord wanted everything to be the same as under his father's time, meaning the rent didn't rise, and he is rich and has no intention to sell, then cares and worries about the £360 half annual? And a landlord who arranged for the garden to be cared for did not care for the damp in the house for years? What is the defendant's side of the story?

Will you now reply that for the past 14 years you have seen rent rises annually, up to the limit that a senior NHS staff is out of budget, couldn't save to pay a £360 bill, although having all the cash to buy new as WORKED for lifetime so can't have a mortgage now, not talking about for how long. What else will you embroid to this story? Will your next story will be asking for a spade, a hedger, scisors,.... and all insurance and things going with them. And garden waste bags? A lawnmower will not be able to help you taking care of such a garden, although that is sufficient for my tenant as it's a modest accomodation, and we didn't have any issues over a lawnmower or some nail on the walls.

I feel lucky you are not my tenant, although you might want to move in there as it's requires only a lawnmower, no uneven ground.


22:25 PM, 27th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Kath Jones" at "27/11/2016 - 22:04":

Dear Ms.Jones,
So grateful for your input, albeit presumptuous, pompous and not to leave out..aggressive in manner and totally inaccurate. I never stated I work currently in the NHS, YOU presumed wrongly. I've not worked in the NHS for 20 years now, and that is as far as I intend to cover anything with someone so ill-mannered and accusing when they have NO facts on me or why I find myself in late life where I am. Amazing that it has to be a female to be the most arrogant, no doubt feminist ball breaker. The men on here have been so warm, friendly and helpful. And YES I agree, thank god you're not my landlord!


22:54 PM, 27th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Darlington Landlord" at "27/11/2016 - 20:36":

Thank you Darlington Landlord. I'm so pleased I joined yesterday as I have found the forum and the people (apart from one) really helpful with great and interesting input - I certainly feel I have gained some useful information from experienced landlords. To cover the the question on my friend, no, not London, but Oxfordshire. Small flat, modern and well kept, but through quite an upmarket letting agent, where the landlord only wanted to short lets - hence only 6 month tenancy's, which I'm sure allowed him to raise the rent every renewal which he did. But she had a good job, and it was only going to be for a short time. However with agents fees for renewals using a docu-sign digital contract of £110 every 6 months, now some 4 years ago, it was a cost that most JAMS could not absorb. I too am not in London. With regards to my landlord, it is the same family who's always let the property to me. It was the father my original landlord until he died in 2014 who provided garden maintenance for the 14 years as he believed if he made the maintenance of the outside more attractive to a tenant he would attract a better tenant and one who would stay. He also loved the property as it was his Mother's, he did not see it, or use it purely as a business proposition. He just wanted someone in it who would care for it. When the son took over he assured me nothing would change, and that he wanted to carry on his father's good name and intentions. So for my next tenancy due April 2017 it all changes after 14 years. And that is my complaint against PRIVATE renting is that regardless of whether you are renting for 12 months or 12 years ( 14 years in my case) your tenancy is ONLY as good the paper (digital) it's written on. My circumstances have not changed from 14 years ago when the only reason I chose this property was because of not having to maintain the garden being too large and that I have worn facet joints in my spine so unable to do a lot of bending or heavy garden work. The previous landlord assured me I would not have to worry and his word was his bond, he was a lovely gentleman, but unfortunately the son is not going to be the same. So I guess I will sadly have to move on sooner than I would have, and frankly after 14 years I've grown to love the house, it's my home. Another reason I'm against private renting, it's not really geared towards long term homes. The property is a 1970's build and has not really had anything done to it since then, only double glazing. No CH, hence the damp and it needs complete updating which the landlord is aware of, but very slow to start on anything. Thank you for your input.

by Mark Alexander

7:14 AM, 28th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jill Harding" at "27/11/2016 - 22:54":

Hi Jill

How old is your current landlord as a matter of interest?

by Sian Wyatt

7:19 AM, 28th November 2016, About 5 years ago

If the garden is that big, have you considered two sheep?

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