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Live-in landlord and housemate garden maintenance dispute

Discussion in 'General Property Chat' started by Wavelet, 8th Jul, 2016.

  1. Wavelet

    Wavelet Member

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    I am the owner of a house and live in it with another housemate. Recently, I ran into a dispute with him about the maintenance of the garden.

    He takes part in cleaning the house and doing his share of the household chores but he told me that it is my responsibility to do the gardening - which in this case we are talking about mowing the lawn and to collect and dump the fallen leaves that have accumulated around the house.

    He told me that he would only need to help with the gardening if he was renting out the whole house but because I live in it with him it becomes my responsibility. His argument was that the tenant who rents out the whole house represents the landlord and that is the reason why they need to do it. Because I live in the same house, I needed to do this because maintaining the garden would upkeep the image of the house and yield benefits to my investment whereas he doesn't benefit anything from doing it.

    He also pointed me to a legal advice web site that he feels it supported his opinion about not needing to maintain the outdoor area because he does not fully rent out the whole house.

    I thought through what this housemate said and looked at the web site he showed me and I disagree with his views for the following reasons:

    The site is not an Aussie site but a US site and even in that site it clearly states that it very firstly depends on what is written in the lease and if the lease is silent on the subject THEN it becomes a matter of determining what exactly has been rented. Whereas I was using the standard tenancy lease that explicitly indicates that he needs to take care of the garden.

    Furthermore, when it comes to determining what has been rented, the site was talking about multi-family units which are self-contained dwellings in a grouped dwelling setting where there is some clear boundaries - a tenant can't exactly access their neighbour's unit anytime they want to so it makes perfect sense that they are only responsible for the areas under their control and the landlord takes care of the communal areas in the grouped setting.

    Lastly, the site states that if the whole house is rented, then the tenant is responsible for much of the routine outdoor maintenance. I feel this only further supports my case because this housemate IS renting out the whole house, not just his room, but he does so in a shared capacity - that is the reason why he has access to all areas of the house and that is why people call it 'shared accommodation'. His statement about not renting out the whole house is flawed.

    I'm not asking this housemate to plant a tree or something to improve the image of the house, I am just asking him to do his share of the mowing and gathering of the leaves which is a general and routine maintenance. And he does benefit from this, although he doesn't use the front yard, he uses the rotary clothesline in the backyard where the grass needs to be mowed and the leaves fall on the driveway/footpath that he makes use of to get in/out of the house.

    I don't agree with his statement that the tenant who rents out the whole house represents the landlord. The tenant represents themselves, they are just paying a fraction of the full cost of a house to make use of somebody else's property to live in. This doesn't benefit my investment (you could even apply his logic to the house cleaning if that was the case), it is about the need to show respect for other people's property. In general, if you were to hire out or even let someone borrow your property/possession, there is a general expectation that the person you hired/lent it to takes care of it in a manner so that it is fit for purpose of its intended use (in this case living in it), and return it largely in the same state that it was given to them so that the owner or next person can make use of it.

    In addition to the legal side of the issue, I was just wondering if I could get other people's thoughts on what he said and what I said?
     
  2. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    You own the house and live in it and have a boarder renting a bedroom, but has use of rest of the house?

    I would say he has no obligation to do anything in the garden at all.
     
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  3. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

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    Legal side - what does your agreement actually say? I don't know why you spent so long explaining what was on some random website and not focus on what your lease says on the issue!

    My other thoughts are: This doesn't seem like that big a deal, and if it is, why not just terminate your agreement?
     
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  4. HUGH72

    HUGH72 Well-Known Member

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    It's your house, you are living in it with a boarder. I think you should maintain the yard.
     
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  5. Gockie

    Gockie I'm an ISTP-A female, so I might be a bit quirky! Premium Member

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    I agree with the other forumites.
     
  6. Wavelet

    Wavelet Member

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    The housemate was using the web site to justify his view and I was trying make statements in defence against it to support my view. Furthermore, US laws has some similarities to Aussie law and I felt that if this turns out to be the case I needed to address it to backup my point.

    I agree with you, it's not really a big deal and I get along with this housemate just fine and its not worth terminating the agreement over. However, I just felt that this is not different from the household chores like cleaning the kitchen and he should be doing his part because we are living in a shared accommodation after all.

    As for our agreement, it's a type of rental agreement in my jurisdiction known as an occupancy agreement for lodgers but in it I indicated that we will try to use most of the standard tenancy agreement terms. And I quote from the standard tenancy terms:

    "The Tenant agrees to take reasonable care of the premises and their contents and keep them reasonably clean having regard to their condition at the time of commencement of the tenancy and the normal incidents of living. In particular the Tenant will: -"

    With the following points listed:

    "(f) keep the grounds and garden tidy and free from rubbish and the guttering and drains free from debris"
    "(g) water and maintain the lawns, gardens, shrubs and trees"
     
    Last edited: 9th Jul, 2016
  7. JenW

    JenW Well-Known Member

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    Wavelet.... I think you need to re-read the responses.
    Good luck with sorting it out.
     
  8. Joynz

    Joynz Well-Known Member

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    Seems like it doesn't specify lawn mowing though? Keeping the grounds tidy isn't lawn mowing IMO

    I think that you will always be expected to do the landlord type things like gutter cleaning.

    But if you write lawn mowing into the next lease, then that should be OK - just specify it before the tenant moves in.

    I think this is just a typical flat mate thing. There's always someone who doesn't take out the rubbish or do the dishes!
     
  9. bob shovel

    bob shovel Well-Known Member

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    My mate did nothing and suffered from hang overs, i powered on and started mowing early for him. He still didn't mow the lawns but i got mine back:D well worth seeing him suffer
     
  10. Nick Valsamis

    Nick Valsamis Well-Known Member

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    Why would it be the standard tenancy terms if it's a shared accommodation and he doesn't have full access to the house?

    In this case, you can't just go by the legalities and instead must do what is practical. So really you need to compromise on this issue and do the gardening to share the responsibilities.
     
    Last edited: 8th Jul, 2016
  11. Wavelet

    Wavelet Member

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    But there is a difference between a boarder and a lodger and he is definitely the lodger. I do not provide meals and domestic services (like laundry and cooking) to him. If I treated him like a boarder I would be asking more rent payment than what I am asking for now and would be doing the gardening without complaints.
     
  12. Wavelet

    Wavelet Member

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    Sorry, I should clarify this a bit more but in my jurisdiction we have a type of rent agreement known as an occupancy agreement for lodgers. What he signed was an occupancy agreement but in it, I indicated that we will follow as much of the standard tenancy terms as applicable to our situation. In the agreement, I explicitly indicated the part where it indicates he would have exclusive possession of the property does not apply. I will update my previous post to reflect this.

    Based on what I read about occupancy agreements, it seems like I could enforce it legally. However, I want to come to some practical arrangements because I do get along with this housemate. I don't expect him to do the gardening alone, I just thought that it would be fair that he should be doing his share of the gardening to share the responsibilities.
     
  13. Wavelet

    Wavelet Member

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    Actually it does talk about maintaining the lawn. I have updated my previous post to reflect this.
     
  14. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

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    Did you add those additional clauses? They are not standard terms in any state that I know of. Depending on what else might be on the 'standard lease', those terms might not actually be enforceable.
     
  15. Wavelet

    Wavelet Member

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    No I didn't. They were actually on the standard tenancy agreement that I purchased from a newsagent.
     
  16. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

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    Purchased from the newsagent? I've never heard of such a thing. Standard residential tenancy lease agreements are published by each respective state's fair trading or consumer protection agency for free.

    That actually makes me a little bit more concerned about what's in the entirety of the lease. Was it some sort of standard lodging agreement you bought? If it is, you shouldn't call it a tenancy agreement.
     
  17. Angel

    Angel Well-Known Member

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    You purchased an agreement from the newsagent.

    What does the RTA website for your state have to say about it? Just how legal is the lease?


    Great minds, TB
     
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  18. larrylarry

    larrylarry Well-Known Member

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    It's simple. If you insist you are correct then bring it into the tribunal and sort it out. You win, good. You lose, you learn. This forum has no jurisdiction to hear your dispute and decide for you. We are not even a tribunal.

    If you're confident and not willing to compromise, let a third party decide.
     
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  19. Ed Barton

    Ed Barton Well-Known Member

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    Are you even in Australia?
     
  20. Joynz

    Joynz Well-Known Member

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    I think it's just something you may have to put up with.

    Similar to the give and take in a relationship (where someone is often a bit exasperated by the fact that their beloved doesn't hang up the towels, put the tools back in the right place, rinse the dishes properly etc...)

    You like the housemate, so perhaps compromise a bit.

    What state is your house in?