IPB

Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )

9 Pages V   1 2 3 > »   
Reply to this topicStart new topic
> NTC consider allotment rent increase enforcement
Simon Kirby
post Nov 17 2010, 11:32 AM
Post #1


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 6,326
Joined: 20-July 10
From: Wash Common
Member No.: 1,011



At Monday's Community Services Committee Newbury Town Council are to consider my complaint that this year's allotment rent increase is unenforceable. If you have a spare hour I would be very pleased if you could came along to see first-hand what passes for local democracy in action.

My argument has always been that the rent review term in the tenancy agreement is unfair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and if that's right it means the Council can't enforce any rent increase. I expect that deciding now that the term is indeed unfair is just going to be too embarrasing for the Council, but the alternative is that they have to take me to court to enforce my eviction, and then it's the judge who decides.

The idea of the Regulations is that they protect the consumer from being exploited by the strength of the supplier's position. Each term of a contract has to pass the Regulations' test of fairness, and if it fails it's as if the term wasn't there.

The problem with the rent review term is that it allows the Council to decide how much to increase the rent by each year and the tenant isn't given any notice of the increase so the tenant can't quit before the increase comes in because she is contracturally obliged to give 12 months notice to quit, and because she has crops in the ground and has already bought in seeds for the spring. It's about as unfair as terms come.

This is what the OFT say
QUOTE (OFT)
We have serious concerns over terms allowing rent to be increased arbitrarily by the landlord without reference to clear and objective criteria or an independent valuer.

A fair rent term would also include provision for the landlord to give notice of the increase that was long enough to allow a tenant who did not wish to pay rent at the higher rate to leave before the increase took effect. However, such a provision would not necessarily render a rent variation term fair in itself.


Please come if you can. The Council have slipped this into the agenda quietly - I didn't even know until yesterday - so I don't expect any allotmenteers to have found out about it - and the Council have banned the Society from letting me post notices on the Society notice board. I'll be leaving after the item for a drink somewhere so I'd be pleased if you'd join me - no names, no pack drill.


--------------------
Right an injustice - give Simon Kirby his allotment back!
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Iommi
post Nov 17 2010, 11:40 AM
Post #2


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 4,138
Joined: 13-May 09
From: Newbury
Member No.: 20



Whether I go or not, all the best with your effort.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Simon Kirby
post Nov 17 2010, 12:02 PM
Post #3


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 6,326
Joined: 20-July 10
From: Wash Common
Member No.: 1,011



QUOTE (Iommi @ Nov 17 2010, 11:40 AM) *
Whether I go or not, all the best with your effort.

Cheers mate. smile.gif


--------------------
Right an injustice - give Simon Kirby his allotment back!
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
dannyboy
post Nov 17 2010, 12:58 PM
Post #4


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 6,056
Joined: 14-May 09
From: Bouvetøya
Member No.: 51



I thought that the rest of the allotment holders couldn't care less?
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
user23
post Nov 17 2010, 05:20 PM
Post #5


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 4,024
Joined: 14-May 09
Member No.: 50



How many allotment holders are you representing Simon?
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Simon Kirby
post Nov 17 2010, 05:34 PM
Post #6


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 6,326
Joined: 20-July 10
From: Wash Common
Member No.: 1,011



QUOTE (user23 @ Nov 17 2010, 05:20 PM) *
How many allotment holders are you representing Simon?

Just me.


--------------------
Right an injustice - give Simon Kirby his allotment back!
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Simon Kirby
post Nov 17 2010, 05:38 PM
Post #7


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 6,326
Joined: 20-July 10
From: Wash Common
Member No.: 1,011



QUOTE (dannyboy @ Nov 17 2010, 12:58 PM) *
I thought that the rest of the allotment holders couldn't care less?

Not really. Look at what was asked at the tenants' meetings.

The rent rise was unpopular because the rents are now some of the highest you'll find and yet the service is one of the poorest. Criticism of the rent rise isn't the Council's major concern though because that's easy enough to justify in terms of the tax-payer subsidy that the service enjoys. What's got the Council rattled is that the allotmenteers are beggining to understand how increadibly inefficiently the service is run and that self-management is a viable alternative that delivers cheaper rents and a better service. This is a very dangerous idea for the Council because it threatens what is for them a £125k turn-over business. The Council have had to work hard to contain the situation. For example this from the West Mills meeting:
QUOTE
[an allotmenteer] asked if Newbury Town Council had checked other council’s charges?

Granville Taylor stated that we had investigated other allotments fees, adding that we had found that some self managed sites were as much as £100.00 per pole. ... Cllr Johnson added that the average costs found were around £6 to £7 per pole.


Newbury's rent is now £6.94 per pole so if what Cllr Johnson said was true Newbury's rents would be average and there'd be no justification for any complaint. My own survey of 20 of Newbury's neighbouring boroughs suggest that the average all-in rate for a ten pole plot is most likely in the range £3 to £4 per pole. I asked a friend to put in a Freedon of Information request to find the basis of Cllr Johnson's assertion, and the Council claim to have sampled Thurrock (£8.25 per pole) and Enfield (£7.20 per pole), which is an odd choice, not least because their average rate is not even in the £6 to £7 range, but then there are precious few sites charging more than Newbury so choice was always going to be limited.

Granville Taylor's claim to have found self-managed council sites charging £100 per pole is also interesting because if true it would suggest that self-management is a very expensive way to go, and that is not what my research suggests. Again, my friend asked the Council to justify the Council's assertion and it turns out that the Services Manager was talking about the commercially-managed grow-your-own plots at Wyevale Garden Centres which are not council sites, and certainly aren't self-managed, and they're not even allotments in the generally accepted sense.

The Council have also gone for me personlly since I started the allotment society three years ago. If you're interested you might like to make a Freedom of Information request to see all the complaints that have been made against me. My personal favourites are Cllr Fenn's complaints that I brushed my dogs on my plot, and that the singing at our summer social was too loud, and my warning from the Chief Executive that flying my English Flag higher than 8' tall was a breach of the rules was probably the most bizarre when the plot of the year flies the same flag at the same height pretty much next to mine. This was one of the most hurtful from my ward councillor, allotment steward, and neighbour of 15 years Cllr Marion Fenn:

QUOTE
Could the Leader and other councillors please support fellow councillors and the officers in dealing with a member of public who not only flaunts allotment rules, uses up excessive officer time but also makes malicious, false and defamatory statements about officers, the council and some councillors? Those remarks by e-mail, sent to officers and members of the public, often contain crude and offensive language - could this be deemed as vexatious behaviour? What do you see as the way forward, taking into account that this person has failed to heed previous warnings?

Cllr Fenn didn't tell me she was making this accusation, and I was given no opportunity to answer the accusations. Here's an idea though: if Cllr Fenn can produce a collection of those crude and offensive e-mails and post them here I'll gladly make a generous donation to a charity of her choice, and if she can't I'll expect her to reciprocate.

When I continued to press for a satisfactory answer to the question of the fairness of the rent increase the Council were happy to take up Cllr Fenn's suggestion and brand me a vexatious complainant which was a pretty effective way of discrediting and silencing me.

It doesn't pay to complain, so it's no wonder that most allotmenteers keep their heads down and do as they're told. I just don't agree that's right. If I was mugged for £20 in the underpass I wouldn't be happy to let it go, and I'm no more inclined to give the Council £20 that they can't legitimately demand. Obviously, it would help if more people felt the same, but my conscience is my own and I have to do what I think is right.


--------------------
Right an injustice - give Simon Kirby his allotment back!
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Iommi
post Nov 17 2010, 06:27 PM
Post #8


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 4,138
Joined: 13-May 09
From: Newbury
Member No.: 20



If what you say is true, I hope you take these people to the effin' cleaners. It would be good if the NWN would take up your 'story' as it makes for fascinating reading and one that ceases to amaze me.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Simon Kirby
post Nov 17 2010, 06:43 PM
Post #9


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 6,326
Joined: 20-July 10
From: Wash Common
Member No.: 1,011



QUOTE (Iommi @ Nov 17 2010, 06:27 PM) *
If what you say is true, I hope you take these people to the effin' cleaners. It would be good if the NWN would take up your 'story' as it makes for fascinating reading and one that ceases to amaze me.

I hope I haven't said anything that I can't justify. Where I could I've provided links. If I've made a specific acusation or claim whithout proof I'd be pleased to back it up, and of course if I'm in error then I'm more than willing to apologise and put the record straight, so please let me know specifically if something I've said is questionable.


--------------------
Right an injustice - give Simon Kirby his allotment back!
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
user23
post Nov 17 2010, 07:01 PM
Post #10


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 4,024
Joined: 14-May 09
Member No.: 50



Don't you think you might be a tad obsessed with allotment charges?
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Simon Kirby
post Nov 17 2010, 07:27 PM
Post #11


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 6,326
Joined: 20-July 10
From: Wash Common
Member No.: 1,011



QUOTE (user23 @ Nov 17 2010, 07:01 PM) *
Don't you think you might be a tad obsessed with allotment charges?

Is it possible you've missed the point? Newbury Town Council are going to take court action to evict me from my allotment.


--------------------
Right an injustice - give Simon Kirby his allotment back!
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Iommi
post Nov 17 2010, 07:48 PM
Post #12


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 4,138
Joined: 13-May 09
From: Newbury
Member No.: 20



QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Nov 17 2010, 06:43 PM) *
I hope I haven't said anything that I can't justify. Where I could I've provided links. If I've made a specific acusation or claim whithout proof I'd be pleased to back it up, and of course if I'm in error then I'm more than willing to apologise and put the record straight, so please let me know specifically if something I've said is questionable.

I have put 'if what you say is true' in, to cover my back-side. It would be unfair to hurl insults at people I don't know, based on allegations and when I have only heard your side of the story. I have no-reason to disbelieve you. I hope you understand.

Like I said: if your view is an accurate account of things, then I think the attitude of our elected members is quite disgusting, regardless of whether they are entitled to charge the rent they have, but I have only heard your side of the story.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
On the edge
post Nov 17 2010, 09:39 PM
Post #13


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 7,847
Joined: 23-May 09
From: Newbury
Member No.: 98



QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Nov 17 2010, 07:27 PM) *
Is it possible you've missed the point? Newbury Town Council are going to take court action to evict me from my allotment.


Trouble is Simon you are dealing with vegetables....


--------------------
Know your place!
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
user23
post Nov 17 2010, 09:51 PM
Post #14


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 4,024
Joined: 14-May 09
Member No.: 50



QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Nov 17 2010, 07:27 PM) *
Is it possible you've missed the point? Newbury Town Council are going to take court action to evict me from my allotment.
I don't know whether the details of what you've said are true or what you've left out but when it comes down to it isn't this what generally happens to those who won't pay their rent?

It's hardly "democracy in action" if it's you and you alone protesting about these new charges. Perhaps if you had more allotment holders supporting your cause you might stand more of a chance.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Iommi
post Nov 17 2010, 10:00 PM
Post #15


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 4,138
Joined: 13-May 09
From: Newbury
Member No.: 20



QUOTE (user23 @ Nov 17 2010, 09:51 PM) *
I don't know whether the details of what you've said are true or what you've left out but when it comes down to it isn't this what generally happens to those who won't pay their rent?

Surely if he can prove that the rent is unfair, then he has a right to argue it?
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Iommi
post Nov 17 2010, 10:01 PM
Post #16


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 4,138
Joined: 13-May 09
From: Newbury
Member No.: 20



QUOTE (user23 @ Nov 17 2010, 09:51 PM) *
I don't know whether the details of what you've said are true or what you've left out but when it comes down to it isn't this what generally happens to those who won't pay their rent?

Surely if he can prove that the rent is unfair, then he has a right to argue it? Notwithstanding that he feels he has been victimised.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
user23
post Nov 17 2010, 10:12 PM
Post #17


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 4,024
Joined: 14-May 09
Member No.: 50



QUOTE (Iommi @ Nov 17 2010, 10:00 PM) *
Surely if he can prove that the rent is unfair, then he has a right to argue it?
"Unfair" is a subjective term in this case and therefore it seems pointless arguing as he no doubt thinks it is and they think not. If he could prove the rent rise is illegal that would be a different story, but it doesn't seem it is.

He's also a bit guilty of Garvism in that first he says "What's got the Council rattled is that the allotmenteers are beggining to understand how increadibly inefficiently the service is run" suggesting he has a mandate to question the charges from many allotment holders but when goes on to say that he represents "Just me".
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
dannyboy
post Nov 17 2010, 10:20 PM
Post #18


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 6,056
Joined: 14-May 09
From: Bouvetøya
Member No.: 51



QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Nov 17 2010, 05:38 PM) *
Not really.

Reading both sides I'd say the problem is that both of you think you are right & neither is willing to back down.

You musy have know rent reviews were going to happen. Claiming that they are unfair because they take place without giving an allotment holder the right to terminate their rental seems could be viewed as kicking up a fuss over a technicality that has been accepted for years.

Add the fact that allotment spaces are rather sought after....
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Iommi
post Nov 17 2010, 10:31 PM
Post #19


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 4,138
Joined: 13-May 09
From: Newbury
Member No.: 20



QUOTE (user23 @ Nov 17 2010, 10:12 PM) *
"Unfair" is a subjective term in this case and therefore it seems pointless arguing as he no doubt thinks it is and they think not. If he could prove the rent rise is illegal that would be a different story, but it doesn't seem it is.

'Proof' and 'fair' are yet to be decided.

QUOTE (user23 @ Nov 17 2010, 10:12 PM) *
He's also a bit guilty of Garvism in that first he says "What's got the Council rattled is that the allotmenteers are beggining to understand how increadibly inefficiently the service is run" suggesting he has a mandate to question the charges from many allotment holders but when goes on to say that he represents "Just me".

I don't think so because you are mixing two different things. The first one is his opinion about what the council think, the other is about who is pursuing a complaint.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Iommi
post Nov 17 2010, 10:33 PM
Post #20


Advanced Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 4,138
Joined: 13-May 09
From: Newbury
Member No.: 20



QUOTE (dannyboy @ Nov 17 2010, 10:20 PM) *
Reading both sides I'd say the problem is that both of you think you are right & neither is willing to back down. You musy have know rent reviews were going to happen. Claiming that they are unfair because they take place without giving an allotment holder the right to terminate their rental seems could be viewed as kicking up a fuss over a technicality that has been accepted for years.

Or it could be about betting things done properly? I don't see anything wrong with that, and SK is prepared to put his allotment on the line for this cause. I hope he doesn't end up a martyr.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post

9 Pages V   1 2 3 > » 
Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:

 

Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 7th April 2020 - 01:44 AM