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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have lived in my rented house for 2 years. The landlord has

Resolved Question:

I have lived in my rented house for 2 years. The landlord has just told me that I have to trim the boundry hedge to the height and depth that it was when we moved in. This is the first time that this has ever been mentioned. He says he has a video of what the hedge was like when we moved in, but we have not seen this yet. This hedge is about 25-30ft high. There is one large Sycamore tree in the garden which he said he was going to prune, but since we are now arguing about the hedge, says that we need to do that too.
This is what our contract says:
"Keep the garden and grounds properly cultivated according to the season and free from weeds, in a neat and tidy condition with the lawns regularly mown and edged, and shrubs and trees pruned but not alter the character or layout of the garden or grounds. The only exception to this obligation is if the Landlord includes a gardener within the rent, in which cases the specific parts of the gardening will be confirmed in writing to clarify this inclusion and waiver of the obligation".
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What would you like to know about this please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I have lived in my rented house for 2 years. The landlord has just told me that I need to trim the boundry hedge to the height and depth that it was when we moved in. This is the first time this has ever been mentioned. the hedge is about 12ft high and 30ft long.

There is also a 15ft Sycamore in the garden which he said he would prune. However, he now says that as we are disputing that we are responsible for the hedge, we need to do that too.

Our contract says:

"Keep the garden and grounds properly cultivated according to the season and free from weeds, in a neat and tidy condition with the lawns regularly mown and edged, and shrubs and trees pruned but not alter the character or layout of the garden or grounds. The only exception to this obligation is if the Landlord includes a gardener within the rent, in which cases the specific parts of the gardening will be confirmed in writing to clarify this inclusion and waiver of the obligation".

I would like to know if I am contractually obliged to trim this very high boundry hedge. My landlord says that if I don't, then he will get his gardener to do it and will take the money out of my deposit (plus admin fees and interest) when we move out. Our deposit is protected under the deposit protection scheme and associated arbitration process so clearly he cannot just do that.

However, I would like to know if you think we are responsible for this hedge under the terms of our contract before deciding what to do. He says he has a video of what the hedge was like when we moved in. but we have never seen this and can't comment on whether this was taken at the time we moved in, or made to seem like it was.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Based upon what it says in the tenancy agreement with regard to maintenance of the garden and the grounds, yes, you are obliged to do this.
By our allowing it to grow, he can argue that you are altering the character of the garden.
Even without the video, their hedge will have grown over that period so it would not be too difficult to ascertain what it was like before.
However the situation that you are rain is that you either pay these costs or heating give you notice to quit or of course you can give him notice to quit, all at the end of the term of course or if it is now a periodic tenancy, 2 months notice.
I'm sorry if this answer is unfavourable but you did sign the tenancy agreement agreeing to maintain the garden and the trees would be included in that is indeed they are.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

What about a test of reasonableness? Particularly as it does not even mention the hedge in the contract. A hedge is not a shrub or tree and if he needs it maintained at a certain height, then it should state this specifically surely?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Reasonableness doesn't apply to the law of contract unless, of course, the contract uses that term.
If its in your contract then you are bound by it unless it is so unfair that it offends against UCTA which is an extremely high test. That prohibits things like contracts for a pound of flesh.
Regardless of videos and disputes over height seize, there will have been some growth and its for you to maintain it I'm afraid.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70003
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
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