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AIBU here - can my landlord do this?

(29 Posts)
MummySparkle Thu 01-Jun-17 10:56:58

We are approaching the end of our tenancy agreement. Back in January we had a visit from the new estates manager who told us that unless we made improvements to the garden she wouldn't offer to renew our tenancy. (The garden was untidy at that point, but not hideous and it was January!)

Anyway, we spoke to her on the phone last week for an unrelated reason (hot water tank sprang a leak - also a nightmare) She has told my DP that she will renew our tenancy, but on 'new terms', and would come over to discuss it this week.

Yesterday my parents came over whilst the kids were at nursery and, together with DP, we spent 6 hours sorting the garden. Dug up all of the weeds, dig out some tree stumps that we've been meaning to do for ages, mowed the lawn and generally neatening everything up. There's a couple of patches that still need grass seed, but it's looking good.

Also yesterday we finally had a new gate fitted (we've been promised this for 2 years) When I got back from dropping the DCs to nursery the gate was there and the landlord's handyman arrived a few minutes after. I assumed he'd dropped it off then gone to get some supplies before coming back.

Fast-forward to today. DH just messaged estate manager to find out when she was coming over. She said that she had a look around the garden in the morning when she dropped the gate off and also peered through the windows and will email us.

Is she being unreasonable to come and view our property without our permission and without notice? The garden looks so different from yesterday morning. And looking through the two downstairs windows yesterday she would have been greeted by a bomb-site of a lounge and dirty dishes in the kitchen. Both of these things I sorted within 10mins of getting back from dropping the DCs at nursery. You know what it's like trying to tidy with small people 'helping'...

I'm firstly, really annoyed at her doing this. And secondly really worried about what she is going to do with our rent. If she doesn't want us here then she will make our new tennancy agreement ridiculous so that we are forced to move out. A rent increase is inevitable, but I'm worried she will also force us to pay extra for her gardeners to come weekly and possibly even a cleaner to check up on us?

I have no idea where I stand with all of this. With all its faults (and this house has many!) we adore this house and really don't want to move. DS has just been accepted into the local school.

What can I do?

MummySparkle Thu 01-Jun-17 10:59:43

Garden currently looks like this (it goes all the way back to the garage at the end) all of the bare patches were waist-high weeds yesterday morning - it's transformed today

Justmadeperfectflapjacks Thu 01-Jun-17 11:02:52

Personally I would email the estate agent photos of your home +garden at their best and ask that the pics be filed as a true reflection of your living conditions. That hope the new tenancy reflects the fact you are fully committed to the maintaining of the property.

MummySparkle Thu 01-Jun-17 11:03:00

This whole area was a rambling mass of weeds when we moved in, and we hadn't done much to it when she came over in January. I'm 1/3 of the way through turning it over in preparation for grass seed. And we've taken out three stumps of bushes that were there before

Imnotaslimjim Thu 01-Jun-17 11:04:55

Tbh I'd wait until they get back to you. If they start make unreasonable demands, invite them round for a proper inspection. Them "having a quick look" isn't fair and a few dishes and some laundry doesn't mean you aren't taking care of the property.

MummySparkle Thu 01-Jun-17 11:23:00

DH is emailing photos of the garden over now.

I guess I'm extra-worried because of how much aggro she has caused around the estate. Our neighbour works for the landlord so wh have heard a lot of what has been happening across the properties. The old estate manager has been forced out of a job (she moved across to the farm side of things) New person has completely changed the way the holiday cottages / wedding venue rental works and is undermining other staff there. Basically if she doesn't like you she will get rid of you. Everybody hates her apart from the landlord who thinks the sun shines out of her bum

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 01-Jun-17 11:33:25

It sounds as though the new estate manager has been brought in to specifically get the estate back into shape. Like when they bring in The Hotel Inspector,

Now that you know what she is like I would just continue down the route of we have cleared the garden and re-seeded which will take time to grow. (What does it say in the tenancy about garden maintenance? If it was overgrown when you moved in were you given a discount to get it in order? If not, then the onus on you is to maintain it in the state it was.)

Having said that if the tenancy has expired then the LL is within their rights to only grant a new tenancy on terms he wants included although you can stay on on a rollover basis until he gives you notice etc and goes through the legal procedure.

I suggest you see what she has to say, try to remain calm if there is a rent hike proposed and indicate now that the garden is sorted it will be easier to keep. Do you have before pictures of the garden too.

What are market rents in the area like? Are you underpaying do you think? If they propose a rise then you can counteroffer. They may accept that because it is easier to do that than perhaps fill a void.

MummySparkle Thu 01-Jun-17 13:33:46

They haven't served us notice, so I assume we would be rolling until we get the new one. Tennancy runs out next week I think, it's the first week of the month at any rate.

We are slightly underpaying for a 3-bed house, but it's hard to tell as we are out in the middle of nowhere, you get a lot more house for your money out here than you would in any of the towns / villages. Only similar property is next door (also owned by the landlord) no idea how much they pay and it's probably rude to ask.

I will dig out our old tennancy agreement to compare it to the new one we get offered. Is there a % limit on how much the rent is allowed to go up?

When we first moved in the landlord said they wanted long-term tenants and that the last people were here for 10 years and they're looking for us to stay. He said he'd rather have the properties lived in than empty, hence why the rent is low. He doesn't really need the money, the properties are a sideline to his other businesses. (Obviously not a reason to charge nothing, but that's what the ethos used to be) New person seems to want to make as much money as possible with no thought for anybody else.

I'm sure there are before photos of the garden somewhere. I'll try and find some from when we first moved in. I completely understand that it's up to us to keep the garden neat / in the same state it was when we moved in. And it wasn't amazing in January, but seriously, whose garden doesn't look like it needs a bit of TLC mid-Jan?! I have no idea what the contract says about gardening, I'm sure it must say something. It certainly wouldn't have asked for improvements though. We have made many improvements, including £400 of hedging that has been planted.

MummySparkle Thu 01-Jun-17 13:40:09

Meant to add, it's also hard to compare rent. We have lovely big rooms, but we are not on mains gas (oil - yuk!!) our boiler is ancient and inefficient, we don't have much loft insulation and we only have single glazing. And, aside from the new induction hob, the kitchen has seen much better days!

JeremyCorbynsVest Thu 01-Jun-17 13:41:12

I'm afraid I can't offer any useful information but I just wanted to say I think the garden looks great and you sound like tenants anyone would be happy to have. Good luck with getting everything sorted out - fingers crossed for you.

BeachyKeen Thu 01-Jun-17 13:47:12

I'd definitely compare the old rental agreement with whatever the new one turns out to be, and really check the changes. Make sue you and the new person are clear on each part

CheeseOfHearts Thu 01-Jun-17 14:05:57

LL are supposed to give 24 hours notice for an inspection, not just nose through the window whenever they fancy. She shouldn't base any decisions off this. If she does, you can contest it on that basis.

crazywriter Thu 01-Jun-17 14:13:43

Take a look at your rental agreement for the % the rental hike can be. Our tenancy agreement always said it could only go up x% + base rate. Most were just 5%. Scottish law stated it could only be once a year I believe. We had a good agency though and they didn't out the rate up with good cause because rental increases force people to look elsewhere and they didn't want that.

From what I know they can't come over without notice. They have to give you 24 hours notice. But they can come over without you there if you agree I think. Not 100% on that.

As for the garden, unless agreed on something els it has to be maintained to the standard it was in at the time of renting. We had an issue with a past landlord because of the garden but had proof that it was left in the same state as it was received to protect us. I'm not sure they can force you to hire a gardener or cleaner during a tenancy but I think if it's been added as part of a new tenancy and added into the rent they have grounds. You can always negotiate this.

I can't help with anything else I'm afraid. Just wait until you get the email. Good luck!

requestingsunshine Thu 01-Jun-17 14:13:59

They should not be turning up un-announced and having a nosey round the garden and through your windows. At the end of the day this is your HOME and they need to treat it as such and respect your privacy. I find that really out of order. You can't be living in fear of them turning up whenever they feel like it.

And totally agree about the dishes. Mornings in our house are manic and the dishes and tidying are always left until after the nursery drop off! Hell, sometimes last nights roast tin is sitting there soaking along with them.blush

Wait and see what they say. I'm really not sure though that they can enforce 'new terms' on you. Can you speak with your landlord and find out what they are playing at? Good luck.

MummySparkle Thu 01-Jun-17 16:28:42

DH tried to talk directly to the landlord and find out what was going on, but he is on holiday at the moment. Still no email from her.

I thought we had to have some sort of notice about them coming around. The handyman often turns up unannounced, but he's lovely and is turning up to fix stuff (and also hates new person) so I don't mind that. Although when he came to fix DD's bedroom door I didn't realise she'd done a wee in the potty that was in her room right by the door blush only realised after he'd left (DCs were at nursery so it was definitely there - oops!)

I even don't mind her coming over without 24hrs notice. An hour would be fine. House is mostly clean, just always messy. Nothing that 30mins grabbing stuff and a whip-around with the hoover can't fix.

NicolasFlamel Thu 01-Jun-17 16:41:39

Was it a decent lawn before or has it always been patchy grass?

MummySparkle Fri 02-Jun-17 09:07:08

Which bits? It's always had good coverage, and still has. Looks a bit patchy in the photos as there's grass cuttings on it. There were a few more 'flower beds' in the middle of the bit at the back, but they were overgrown and mostly weeds and in a really awkward place so I've turned them into lawn. You can still see the join as it's a slightly different grass, but it's blending in more each time we now, it's all lovely and thick (with the exception of under the swing, but I'll fix that when we leave).

No email yesterday. DH spoke to her and she said that she 'might pop around in a bit' but she didn't. I hate all of this unknown!

PersianCatLady Fri 02-Jun-17 09:22:47

Lots of landlords that I have known regularly drive or walk past their properties if they are passing to keep an eye on them.

It may not seem fair but supposedly you can tell a lot about how a property is being treated by the way in which the garden is maintained.

Regardless of how a LL comes to the decision to renew or not renew a tenancy, the final decision is the LL's.

Where I live rental properties are now so hard to find that rents are so high and LLs can be very choosy over who they rent to.

Because of this, everyone I know who rents has to basically bend over backwards to please their LL. If they don't, the LL is free to not renew their tenancy at will.

specialsubject Fri 02-Jun-17 09:40:13

No, they can't just turn up. Read your how to rent guide.

Oil is the cheapest way to heat per unit, although if you have an old inefficient boiler that will be negated somewhat. The lack of mains gas, single glazing and so on would all have been known to you before you took the place on. Presumably this is why it is cheaper than usual for the area.

You cannot be forced to pay for anything. If a new tenancy is requested and agreement not reached then you can be given notice.

What is the epc rating? That may make the property unrentable from next year.

RB68 Fri 02-Jun-17 09:40:41

I think if when you moved in the garden was a mess and you have evidence of this through photos etc then she can't really pull you on it.

7461Mary18 Fri 02-Jun-17 10:11:51

The garden looks very neat indeed - better than mine (I own my house). Very impressive work.

A landlord can drive by or walk by in the car from the street and I don't think that is wrong or illegal - just to check someone hasn't parked 5 caravans in the front garden or has 15 new immigrants coming in and out in the morning. However it woudl be unusual and probably wrong to be going up the drive and peering through the windows! Very rude.

Scotland has a rent cap. England does not although in some areas as there are al ot of rented properties the competition from tenants who can pick and choose keeps prices down - plenty of rental prices in London are falling at themoment by the way, not going up. It very much depends where you are. Most landlords with the sort of property you have would be like your last one - want a stable long term tenant even if the rent is not top of the market as empty periods and difficult tenants are not what they are after.

MummySparkle Fri 02-Jun-17 19:37:22

I'm not sure what the epc rating is. We had some people come around to look at the insulation (or lack of) and I think they put more in. We qualify for a free boiler upgrade filled paperwork out with the EPC people months ago, but heard nothing more. Boiler repair man has said 'it's on it's easy out, you'll get et a new one soon' every time he's come to fix it.

So far this year we have put £1000 worth of oil into the tank, and I don't think we have much left. The first tankful got stolen sad and it's a faff if you run out of oil before ordering anymore. But yes we did know all of this before moving in, and the rent is cheap because of that.

Special subject I think that's my worry. That we can't reach an agreement on the new contract so get served notice. I can't think of anything worse right now than having to move house

PersianCatLady Fri 02-Jun-17 20:51:30

If she doesn't want us here then she will make our new tennancy agreement ridiculous so that we are forced to move out
If the LL doesn't want you there any more, why would she make your new tenancy agreement ridiculous??

All the LL has to do is not renew your tenancy and issue you a section 21 notice.

If a LL doesn't want to rent to you any more, then they can just follow the law to evict you without any reason whatsoever.

PersianCatLady Fri 02-Jun-17 20:56:18

However it woudl be unusual and probably wrong to be going up the drive and peering through the windows! Very rude
You are right in that it is wrong and very rude.

However due to the ridiculous situation with rental property in this country now, making a fuss could mean that the LL ends your tenancy.

It isn't fair and it isn't right but unfortunately if you want to get your tenancy renewed the best thing to do is to say nothing about it.

MummySparkle Sat 03-Jun-17 18:18:48

Persian cat lady that's what I feel like; thatvwere on thin ice becausse we're not liked and that we can't do anything to stand up for ourselves else they'll cancel our tennancy.

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