Does the tenancy agreement say that you are responsible for the garden but not mention the hedges or trees specifically?
For the purposes of the tenancy agreement hedges and trees are part of the garden although normally they would be specified separately because the landlord wouldn’t want you removing hedges and chopping trees down without consent.
Because he has maintained them over the last four years there is an argument that they are not included in your maintenance obligations for the garden and that he has taken control of the but on the other hand, there is an argument that you are lucky that you got away with it for the last four years.
You have to think about whether you want the argument with the landlord or not because he make take exception to the argument which, if you can’t agree between you, would have to be decided by court. Landlords don’t particularly like been taken to court by tenants and you may find that he gives you notice to quit if you are on a Assured Short hold Tenancy. He doesn’t have to give you a reason, you can just give you a s21 notice and then look around for the tenant. You may therefore end up winning the battle but losing the war.
My suggestion would be to tell the landlord that you don’t want an argument or dispute over this and that you will be happy to contribute half of the cost. But decision is yours but preferable to going to court because the judge may decide on the landlord’s favour that you are responsible for the trees and that where you not only got the burden of maintaining the trees but also got the burden of paying not only your own court costs but also the landlords, and with the added risk that the landlord is going to give you notice to quit.
Can I clarify anything for you?
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I would try to negotiate with him for half the cost at least. However, if you don’t pay at all, he is likely to keep the money back from the deposit scheme to do it himself and then you would be dealing with the deposit scheme in respect of any dispute.
If you simply refuse to do it, he is going to be forced to do it himself.