Tenant cut down trees

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Tenant cut down trees

Postby skipbj » Mon May 18, 2015 1:35 am

Have just got our house back from Tenants. Last summer they and the neighbour asked if they could cut the trees we agreed to 6-8ft off the top. Well we move back in and the tenants and neighbour have cut 3 trees down completely and cut 5 or six other and left about 12ft bare stumps poking up. We are totally in shock. Tenant says he only helped the neighbour but we have an email from Tenant saying he paid for a tree surgeon to do the work. He keeps changing his story. If we go after them with Landlord Deposit scheme and we lose can we then take them to Small Claims court or is the Landlord Deposit scheme decision final. Estate agent tells us they normally find in favour of tenant!! They have totally ruined the garden as half cut down. Feel sick every time I look out of my garden. Any advice would be gratefully received. We have the whole email trail with tenant and neighbour saying only 6-8ft as like trees, don't want to lose privacy etc.
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Re: Tenant cut down trees

Postby COGGY » Mon May 18, 2015 9:10 am

Hi

Who holds the deposit money? This should not be returned to the tenants without your agreement. Do the Estate Agents manage the property for you? If so they should do an inspection of the property every three months and report back to you on how the property is being kept. That report should have informed you that the trees had been cut down.

Regards Coggy
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Re: Tenant cut down trees

Postby skipbj » Mon May 18, 2015 10:33 am

No the Agent did not manage the property. The deposit is being held with the landlord deposit scheme (government thing). We have been told that the deposit scheme is biased to tenant - so best not to follow that route. Small claims we think. 1st landscaper to come in reckons about £4500 to put right i.e. put back in large trees, clear the stumps and clear all the wood they dumped into the forestry commission behind us. I am having sleepless nights over this - think the neighbour and tenant took advantage - they thought we were not moving back for 2/3 years but my husbands job in Middle East changed so we did not renew at end of 1st year. They owe us other money £684 for oil, aprox £300 for lack of general garden maintenance - they painted my daughters natural wood wendy house blue (on two sides only ) - £185 to have stained. Various stupid things around the house. Installed various satellite wires thru bedroom walls without permission. Took down our one so no tv in the room we used. We will be deducting above sums from the £3,850 deposit. Are we wasting our time taking legal action we have all the email trail where we say 6-8 ft can come off top. We never said they could cut down whole trees. Contract says they cannot cut down trees. Neighbour says tenant let them come in, tenant says neighbour said we told him they could do it?? Despite all that we have an email where tenant says he paid for a tree surgeon to do the tree work - so we feel responsibility lies with him. He was obsessed with having a green lawn - we said fat chance from week one of tenancy as we live in a wood, had had chickens, guinea pigs, rabbits and cats on lawn and very mossy and we loved the trees. Why rent a house in a wood if you don't like trees. Wish I had stayed in the middle east - it has really tainted moving back into our family home.
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Re: Tenant cut down trees

Postby Collaborate » Mon May 18, 2015 12:16 pm

skipbj wrote:No the Agent did not manage the property. The deposit is being held with the landlord deposit scheme (government thing). We have been told that the deposit scheme is biased to tenant - so best not to follow that route. Small claims we think. 1st landscaper to come in reckons about £4500 to put right i.e. put back in large trees, clear the stumps and clear all the wood they dumped into the forestry commission behind us. I am having sleepless nights over this - think the neighbour and tenant took advantage - they thought we were not moving back for 2/3 years but my husbands job in Middle East changed so we did not renew at end of 1st year. They owe us other money £684 for oil, aprox £300 for lack of general garden maintenance - they painted my daughters natural wood wendy house blue (on two sides only ) - £185 to have stained. Various stupid things around the house. Installed various satellite wires thru bedroom walls without permission. Took down our one so no tv in the room we used. We will be deducting above sums from the £3,850 deposit. Are we wasting our time taking legal action we have all the email trail where we say 6-8 ft can come off top. We never said they could cut down whole trees. Contract says they cannot cut down trees. Neighbour says tenant let them come in, tenant says neighbour said we told him they could do it?? Despite all that we have an email where tenant says he paid for a tree surgeon to do the tree work - so we feel responsibility lies with him. He was obsessed with having a green lawn - we said fat chance from week one of tenancy as we live in a wood, had had chickens, guinea pigs, rabbits and cats on lawn and very mossy and we loved the trees. Why rent a house in a wood if you don't like trees. Wish I had stayed in the middle east - it has really tainted moving back into our family home.


No harm in going after both, given that the deposit won't cover your losses in full. At least sue the tenant, and if the tenant's defence then blames the neighbour then you can have the neighbour added as a co-defendant. When you got the house back was all of the damage independently verified?

Andy Carroll, the footballer, was recently sued (I believe successfully) by ex-landlords after causing damage alleged to run in to tens of thousands of pounds.
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Re: Tenant cut down trees

Postby arsie » Wed May 20, 2015 10:50 am

Hi skipbj,

I agree with what Collaborate says.

You have to have had an independent assessment of condition and contents, aka inventory. You would expect to repeat this after each let, paid for by the outgoing tenant, with the original being paid for by you the landlord. Once this is done you can proceed to quotes (if appropriate) and carry out repairs etc. As a landlord you will have trades 'on tap' or can use the agents'.

Just my two pennorth ... When we let our house in the early 1980s (job assignment in the USA for a year) on our return the letting agent pointed out that, had we been living in the house, we would have overlooked the minor deterioration, odd skid marks on the emulsion walls etc as 'normal wear and tear'. A broken internal glass door (letting in light from the front porch) not repaired was abnormal damage however he did point out that it should have been thicker safety glass under the building regulations - the house was new build bought 5 years earlier. A badly water-stained cork bathroom floor was damage and so was the broken bathroom cabinet, a rather expensive one I dimly recall. Of course these days the internet and cable TV, wifi mean much more risk of holes. These would be covered by clauses in your lease I presume.

I can't recall the other damage and we sold and moved on the following spring.
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Re: Tenant cut down trees

Postby syl2 » Wed May 20, 2015 9:10 pm

Remember the limits of the small claims track - if it escalates, the legal costs will become large.
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Re: Tenant cut down trees

Postby arsie » Wed May 20, 2015 11:03 pm

Er sly2
there are no legal costs or legal aid allowed in the small claims track. The limit was recently raised I think to £15,000 which should be plenty enough - here we are talking about £5,000 at most I think?
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Re: Tenant cut down trees

Postby jdfi » Sat May 30, 2015 9:46 pm

Like some others on here, I work in property and deal with landlord and tenant.

By all means send a letter of claim (to both your tenant, the tree surgeon(s) and the neighbour).

However, I really wouldn't commence a claim against the former tenant unless I was 100% sure he had money/assets..... and without being snobbish about it, there is usually a reason why people rent instead of owning their own home....

Even if on the surface he appears affluent (and that is a high deposit, and a high rent assuming the usual correlation) it is remarkable how little assets or unused income such people may have.

The other thing that concerns me is whether it could just be seen as garden maintenance: it is not as open and shut as you seem to believe. I would go further and suggest that all he needs to do is say 'tree surgeon could see evidence of decay' to wholly justify his actions.

My practical advice would be to get the garden replanted to suit your needs (or to sell) and chalk it up to experience.
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