Solicitor fee can I be made to pay?

  Ex plorer 16:42 15 Nov 2011

Hi I have just received a letter from the council. I have been renting strip of garden at the back of the house since 1987.

The council owned a field. A strip of land was rented to the owners of the houses for individual lawn etc that backed onto the field.

All gardens are 4m wide the length varies by length of property.

Suitable for lawn and flowers not vegetables as there is no depth of soil.

Mine is 40 sq yards and two other neighbours are 60 and 64 sq yards the land agent has priced them all at £50 rent and two smaller 20 sq yards at £30 per year.

The council have had it all drawn up by a solicitor. The licensee of the garden have been told to pay £60 towards the cost of the solicitors bill a total £300 the first I new of it was when I opened the letter can I be made to the £60. Not to mention the stupid way its been priced it should go by yardage.

This means a hefty £110 pounds when the rent is next due in April. A complain is imminent.

  Diemmess 17:25 15 Nov 2011

Sounds like your council's idea to scrape some more money into the Council tax kitty. Fact: Your extra garden has been rented for many years.

Has there been any increase in rent during that time, and how was it handled then?

Was your house once a council house and if so did you buy it under the "Right to buy" scheme?

Have you had no warning at all of this demand?

I cannot see why you should have to pay for legal work which you did not request. There was a a similar rumpus in our village over who cuts the grass in front of the one time council houses. The District Council handed all responsibility for what had been Council controlled housing (now including some in private ownership) to a new agency.

The new owners tried to make the flat grass cutting cost the responsibility of each and every occupant, regardless of who owned waht or indeed whether there was grass in front at all

  Diemmess 17:33 15 Nov 2011

Sorry about the break---- finger trouble.

Some occupiers had regularly cut their own patch anyway!

There was a lot of legal fuss and pronouncements, but the agency after losing an appeal, have had to back down, licking their wounds from the legal bill.

Depending on more details of your particular situation, there my be need to have everyone who is affected meet and perhaps invite your town or district councilor to a meeting and see if they can offer any hope.

  spuds 18:15 15 Nov 2011

This can get rather complicated, and I would suggest that you contact your local councillor who should be able to supply some answers, especially as it would appear that you have had this rent arrangement for the land since 1987.

I rent some ground of the local council, in which I have two garages that I own erected on the site. I have had this arrangement for quite a number of years, and every year they increase the annual rent, just by simply informing me by letter. If I do not want to accept the increase, then according to some Act, I have a month to appeal or give notice to vacate. No legal fees involved.

Diemmess makes some good points, worth considering. My local council seem to have different rules regarding tenants, residents, house-owners and those occupying housing association property, but using council owned facilities?.

  Forum Editor 19:15 15 Nov 2011

I'm slightly confused.

You say that you have rented this land from the council since 1987 - have you had no formal agreement with regard to the rental?

You mention that the land was rented to the 'owners' of the houses, so I assume they are all freehold properties. That being the case, it would be normal procedure for the council to seek to recover the cost (or part of the cost)of preparing rental agreements - after all, it's in your interests to have a proper agreement. The fact that you didn't initiate the preparation of a legal agreement is immaterial. You shouldn't enter into a land rental contract without a written agreement.

The rental cost is a matter for the council to decide, it's their land after all. You might have grounds to appeal the rental amount, but as it's so small I wouldn't think you would have much to gain. It seems to me that you either pay what is being asked, or give up your use of the land.

  Terry Brown 20:23 15 Nov 2011

If you have never had a formal (written Contract) about renting the land, this will make it legal, otherwise you could lose the right to use the land.The cost of the solicitor is a one off payment and it will give you the legal right to use the land.For £50 you get an extra 40 square yards, which I believe is good value for today.

If you do not want to pay it, simply give the council the land back, build a new fence for the boundary you own and let one of your neighbours have it.

If you have a legal agreement(written contract), check it out (or take it to a solicitor which will cost you) or make a copy of it and and to the land agent stating your objections.


  spuds 00:15 16 Nov 2011

I have just been looking up some paperwork on the council land that I rent. Apparently the government are telling councils that they will have to increase rents on a 'uniformed basis' by 2015/16 (Rent Restructuring and Rent Convergence). In a nutshell, it means that councils will have to match rents charged by other social housing landlords and property rents.

So the £50 and £30 per year rent mentioned might well be considerably more in years up to and from 2015/16. Does the letter or legal contract mention this?.

A further point that I would consider regarding the solicitor's, is whether the council used their own in-house legal team, or whether an outside legal team was used. This might make a difference as to the fee being charged, and how the fee is being recovered.

  Ex plorer 15:37 16 Nov 2011

It’s a small village. Unpaid councilors with outside solicitor.

(no mention of Rent Restructuring and Rent Convergence).

Never a council house thanks for your replies this will fill in the gaps.

All houses are free Hold.

I refer to it as garden but in fact it’s a lawn. Like most other tenants

The original contract in 1984 not 87 a rent increase was to take place every 5 years. In 1989 all gardens were increased by £5 a £1.00 a year increase. In 1994 there was no increase.

I would willingly give what I owe in back pay for rent if need be of £17.00 with a yearly £1.00 increase. On top of to-days £20.00 total =£37.00. It states,

Legal Costs, The licensee is to contribute £60.00 towards legal costs of the owners for the preperation and completion of this agreement.

My beef is the £60 pound solicitors fee no one new about. Ok it’s a one off payment I will get in touch with local council as suggested. I will pay it if they say they i would lose the garden just didn't relies solicitor costs can be moved to tenants without prior notice.

By that I mean when they first started the discussions in the meetings a letter could have been sent so we could have attended the PC meetings.

Tenants have to keep it in good repair that’s fair the council don’t do maintenance of any kind simply rent the land.

(My neighbours plots have (60sqr yards at £50.00 rent that’s 83p a sqr yards,) (one at 64sqr yards £50.00 rent 78p sqr yards.) (And others have 20 sqr at £30.00 rent 1.50 a sqr yards.) I have 40 square yards Total. £50.00 = 1.25p per square yrd.

I reckon yardage should be based on the largest garden at £50 for 64 sqr yards=78p a sqr yard for all gardens. 64 square yards would be £49.92. £50.00 Based on this garden 60yds Tenant £46.80 Not 50.00
40 yard Tenant £31.20. Not£50.00 20yard Tenants £15.60 Not£30.00 I am not moaning but trying to get an opinion on what’s fair.

  john bunyan 15:52 16 Nov 2011

Why don't you get together with neighbours and offer to buy the strip and work out a fair split? Surely the council would welcome the simplicity of s sale versus the complication of these small rents?

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