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Collective Fine For Dirty Bin Area


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I recently came home to a nasty surprise: a letter from my letting agent asking for £10 because the bin area had to be cleaned up. Our bin area is shared by about 17 flats and was indeed in a terrible state three weeks ago. As a responsible tenant who always disposes of waste/recycling properly (rather than dumping microwaves on the floor), perhaps I should have informed the letting agent about it rather than merely tut-tut to myself.

Now it seems that the letting agent has decided to punish everybody collectively regardless of their waste practices! Given that nobody is likely to own up to creating the mess and accept responsibility, and yet I did not contribute to this problem, I don't want to pay. My question is: what are the likely consequences of this stance? Do I have any legal support here?

My letting agent has been decent in the year I've been with them, and it's only a small fine, but the principle stinks (literally)!

Cheers,

Conquistador

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Guest muttley

Interesting.

We had a letter from the letting agent a few months back threatening a collective fine if things didn't improve. (Someone was dumping household waste in the recycle bin). My immediate reaction was to say "Sod that. I've done nothing wrong" Happily, whoever it was took the message to heart and there have been no more letters.

I guess you need to look at the tenancy agreement. If there's nothing in it to say that you have a collective responsibility, then your LA cannot impose a fine. He could ask you to leave at the end of your tenancy, but would he do that for the sake of £10?

Personally I wouldn't pay it.

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If the place is flats with a communal area, then the collective responsibility is assumed. I would suggest that it is not especially "unfair" of the landlord(from his point of view) to do this, as it is nigh on impossible for him/her/them to narrow it down to specific people. However, I would point out two things. First of all, it IS unfair(IMO) to charge this prior to you moving out, as you can have the property as you wish, as long as it is in good condition when you move out. Secondly, it is the responsibility of the "manager" of the property(probably the letting agent) for communal areas in an HMO. Unless there is something explicitly stated in your AST, I would doubt that they can pass this cost on to you.

All that said, I would strongly advise paying. It is all well and good having principles, but said principles could well mean you are looking for another home in 2 months. And after all, although maybe slightly misguided, the LA does seem to have the best interests of the tenants as a whole and the condition of the property at heart.

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£170? Seems a bit steep.

Quite, I suggest that you agree to pay as a goodwill gesture provided the letting agent can provide you with an itemised bill from the contractors with supporting time records.

If nothing else by the time they've sorted out that information they will have wasted more than £10 of their time anyway.

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Thanks for the comments everyone. I've checked my tenancy agreement and there is a clause about disposing of rubbish properly on the premises, which would include the communal rubbish area. Nothing about collective responsibility, but yes, I can see how that would be assumed.

I've written a snooty letter to the letting agents telling them that I objected to the tone of their original letter in that it did not acknowledge that certain tenants (including me) were probably not guilty. Furthermore, I said that I would be prepared to pay if they could assure me that they would take more selective action against individual mess-makers in future. This is perhaps unreasonable, but hey, they took a hefty wodge off me when they did my credit check, so let's make 'em work! I might also ask to see the charge for the rubbish removal too - cheers for that suggestion.

On a final note, last weekend I went down to the bin area and a few old car seats had materialised! Fantastic! I'm saving up for the next rubbish clearance charge! :)

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Quite, I suggest that you agree to pay as a goodwill gesture provided the letting agent can provide you with an itemised bill from the contractors with supporting time records.

If nothing else by the time they've sorted out that information they will have wasted more than £10 of their time anyway.

A wonderful post.

Concise and to the point.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, the letting agent have provided me with an invoice from the rubbish clearance company, which comes to £112. I don't know how many of the 17 flats are occupied, but the £10 fee doesn't seem grossly unreasonable...

HOWEVER, the letting agent have sent me another invoice for £3 which is listed as an admin fee for the rubbish clearance company (dated just before the letting agent's last letter). Now, the amount is trivial but should not the letting agents have records of this at their disposal so that they do not charge me for acquiring a photocopy. This seems ridiculous to me, and I don't intend to pay up despite the small amount.

Opinions, anyone?

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