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Steer / help sought - please - tenant is removing approx. 5 cubic metres of top soil for commercial landscaping elsewhere


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I stumbled upon a situation where a tenant is in the middle of removing top-soil from my premises without any previous consultation or consent from me, and is exporting it off-site for the purposes of landscaping as part of his line of work. I am 'rookie' landlord forced into being one as a result of losing my job a year ago and now I work away from home. There are a couple of issues: (i) I will be going back to live in my house in a year or two; (ii) I may need to use the top soil for some purpose and it is good to have around.  I have not commented to date in order to preserve working relationships.

I would be grateful for some views from Members, if possible. 

Many thanks.

MaxxHeadroom

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Just when I thought I'd heard it all before along comes a wet kipper to slap me around the face just to remind me of how wrong I can be !

I'm truly lost for words.

Presumably a neighbour has informed you of what's happening. Is the top soil in a pile in the garden and not spread out over the garden ? If so it should be itemized on the inventory, although you could be forgiven if you didn't do that. It's never a good idea to store any non functional  item in a rental property.

Approaching the issue from a different direction........was the tenant expected to maintain the garden ? Perhaps he doesn't like the mound of topsoil or wants to cultivate/ produce a different layout.

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If you feel you cannot address the situation with the tenant you either need a letting agent or consider that you are not suited to being a landlord

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Seems there are a few assumptions being made here.

What makes contributors to this thread think they have been provided with enough information sufficient to make a value judgement ?

It could be a small postage stamp sized garden that has a large pile of topsoil that's spoils the tenants ability to enjoy the garden that he is paying to rent. 

* I don't think a court would consider it theft if the tenant removed it.....permanantly.

* If I were the tenant and you told me to put it back I might politely decline.

We need more detail.

 

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Thank you all for taking the trouble, and time to read my post and comment with ideas and suggestions - some helpful more than others. True, assumptions had to be made, the information I provided was brief.  

- there was no mound, but an elevated section of the ground which was never intended to be reduced to the same level as the rest of the garden.  This section forms about 10% of the garden which is a fairly large garden; the previous owner of the house grew vegetables in this part of the garden. The tenant has levelled off this ground, and beneficiated the top soil for his own use in his commercial pursuits without the courtesy of discussing it with me.

- the tenant's line of work is a handyman which includes landscaping, therefore I hope it is not unreasonable to assume that he is being opportunistic by taking this topsoil, and exporting it to wherever he is working because he saw that there was value in it.

- when ever he has done handy work at the property, I have always asked him to bill me for the work which I have paid for similar to what I would do if I were paying a contractor.

As for the comments by Grandpa above, this community of Members offers help, it doesn't judge.  I never claimed to be suited to be a landlord, you might be better suited that's absolutely fine.  But there are fine Members here ready to help as you can see from the above comments.  Thank you to everyone who has offered a perspective or two.  

 

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Ok thanks for the extra detail.

I can understand why you are feeling unhappy about the situation. Asking the tenant to replace it or put it back is likely to fall on deaf ears and I doubt you have photographs showing the garden  condition prior to the soil removal.......if you do you may be able to get the soil replaced at the tenants expense.

Otherwise........I wouldn't hold your breath.......the chances of getting anything are slim. Topsoil here is around £45 per cu metre.

Good luck.

 

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Should I require a defence.

Whatever the situation the soil wasn't his to remove, as said it has value. Theft end of.

I appreciate that there are different views on actions but mine is he is a weasly thief. He demonstrates that no trust would be reasonable.

 

Btw, tenants should only be doing work with our consent  and approval. Even then it can be a dangerous result if there is a court case regarding the tenancy. Where I can trust the tenant to do good work I offer to refund the receipt of materials, by credit on their rent

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2 hours ago, MaxxHeadroom said:

As for the comments by Grandpa above, this community of Members offers help, it doesn't judge.  I never claimed to be suited to be a landlord, you might be better suited that's absolutely fine.  But there are fine Members here ready to help as you can see from the above comments.  

The help/advise was to use an agent if you couldn't address the problem yourself which is good advise., so I fail to see how that is judgemental. 

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I am assuming you have not undertaken any property inspections during this tenancy. Also it would appear that you have not confronted your tenant to ask the question of "what have you done to my garden and the removal of garden topsoil"   

                         I understand that you did not want confrontation with your tenant, no landlord would want this, but there comes a point when the question has to be asked. So if you do not want to confront him and carry on as you are with the situation then as suggested topsoil is around £45 cu. metre and that could be the way to go perhaps for you especially if (and you have not said) your tenant is paying their rent and you are experiencing no other problems with the tenancy.

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Still don't see problem with telling him to put it back, if he refuses then serve notice.

Alternative, check what the finished project will look like , if acceptable then contribute to the cost and walk away,

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Thank you all so very much, I cannot thank you enough. I have drafted a polite but firm letter restating the rental agreement position, namely no property to be taken off the premises or else it will be deemed to be theft. 

Your comments have been an education, thank you very much one and all!  Please keep up the good work and help. Best wishes all.

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The effort required to dig out your topsoil, barrow it, transport, unload and drop on new site is enormous. Most people wouldn't even consider doing it.

Topsoil at £45 cu metre can be bought, delivered and dropped almost where it's needed.

I know what I'd prefer.

Your tenants actions appear completely irrational. Sounds like your tenant may need urgent psychiatric help.......if he doesn't pay up, at least get a laugh out of the situation. Tell him you've booked a doctor's appointment for him.

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On 4/26/2021 at 10:05 PM, Grampa said:

The help/advise was to use an agent if you couldn't address the problem yourself which is good advise., so I fail to see how that is judgemental. 

It is 'judgemental' because the author is the one who is asserting that it is 'good advice' and imposing his/her ill informed judgement on the situation. Why should this incident give rise to the need for the intervention you are suggesting? Just because I came to this Forum which is full of Noble members who dedicate their time to helping others doesn't mean that I have failed to address the problem and therefore I need the services of an estate agent, you don't know my personal circumstances. Completely irrational way of thinking in my opinion.

I have received some good and generously given ideas for which I'm grateful and then you came budging in with an arrogant attitude like that which is not at all in keeping with the spirit of this Forum. Sorry Grandpa, someone needed to tell you! You can keep your opinion to your self and I would have done the same had you kept not interfered with the good advice I was receiving from the Forum Members. 

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On 5/4/2021 at 6:36 PM, MaxxHeadroom said:

It is 'judgemental' because the author is the one who is asserting that it is 'good advice' and imposing his/her ill informed judgement on the situation. Why should this incident give rise to the need for the intervention you are suggesting? Just because I came to this Forum which is full of Noble members who dedicate their time to helping others doesn't mean that I have failed to address the problem and therefore I need the services of an estate agent, you don't know my personal circumstances. Completely irrational way of thinking in my opinion.

Really?  ill informed judgement? Please clarify and justify the reasoning behind this statement and why it is  "ill informed". Posters can only comment based on the information provided in the original post and based on that, my advice still stands.

I believe you were the one who stated in reference to your tenant   "I have not commented to date in order to preserve working relationships"   which implies an inability by you to address issues with your tenant and avoid a possibly difficult conversation. So if you are not going to address the situation WHO IS???? That leaves either you burying your head in the sand ignoring the problem  and possibly ending up on a TV program about problem tenants which is mainly landlords who have tried to self manage badly. Or you take the option of using a professional such as an Agent.

Just because you don't like the tone of a conversation doesn't make the content invalid/bad That fact that you appear to be so sensitive to comments or criticism  on a public forum just reinforces my opinion that you would benefit from a professional property manager and you are not cut out to self manage.

Take the advice in the manner it was given which was to help. What you do with it is up to you.  

 

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