Allotment Rent Rise Victory

Many councils are increasing rents well beyond the rate of inflation. Some see the popularity of allotments as a good way to milk them for a profit, others see increasing allotment rents as a way of driving out tenants leaving the land free for development.

Up to now my only advice for plot holders fighting rent rises has been to get the press interested and fight it on a political front. Incidentally, the councils to blame on this are as often in labour heartlands as tory strongholds.

So, I was really happy to get an email from Alex Mullins who is the Chairman of Eastleigh & District Allotments. We all owe Mr Mullins a vote of thanks since he didn’t just whine when Eastleigh Borough Council imposed a 60% rent rise on his allotments. From £25.00 a year to £40.00 in a stroke. He challenged them in the courts.

So, on 17th February 2012 Southampton County Court ruled against the council rent rises in Oct 2010. The case only started in November 2011. Mr Mullins tells me the case cost £50.00 to go to a Hearing, so well within any allotment association to fund.

The Court was not concerned with value but with rent rise percentages. In essence, the Judge ruled:

  • Councils could not increase rents to lower costs.
  • Councils should equate increases in Allotments to Swimming Pool, Tennis Courts and Bowling Green rent increases.
  • Councils should accept that Allotments are a subsidised activity, and therefore loss making.

The Judge also relied on the ‘Harwood’ case but basically ruled that the Council could not raise rents for allotments without due regard to rises in other facilities offered by a Council.  He was particularly unimpressed with the Council witness stating that rents were raised to ‘reduce costs’.

Allotment Rent Rises Controlled by Judgement

The Judgement made it clear that the rulings made in the Harwood case were now established and that an Allotment rent rise should be similar to a rise imposed in all other recreational facilities offered by a Council.

The Judge accepted that the Allotments system is the only recreational activity governed by statute and as such all involved must abide by those laws including Councillors

Alex Mullins Allotment Rent Victory

Alex Mullins Allotment Rent Justice!

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Posted in Rants and Raves
15 comments on “Allotment Rent Rise Victory
  1. Jeremy Edwards says:

    Birmingham City Council, in their infinite wisdom, revoked an agreed programme of rent rises for thr next 3 years and imposed the increase over 2 years instead. My rent for a half plot rose from £22 to £30 this year and next year will be £50 in place of the agreed £42 (I think) for next year rising to £50 for the following year. My site association, and the Birmingham District Allotments Association have made strong protests to no avail. Perhaps this case may make Birmingham City council think again.

    Well done Alex Mullins.

  2. Joy lyon says:

    Way to go Mr Mullins. Fingers crossed all the other authorities will now take heed of this ruling. Nobody expects the rents to remain the same but the rises should not be higher than any other recreational facility.

  3. Fi says:

    £50 for half a plot seems pretty steep. I currently pay £20 for a half plot. A full plot is £40. Our council (in Scotland)do not charge rent although they own the site but neither do they incur any costs for the management of the site. The site is run by our allotment association and our rent is paid to the association – it covers water, power and insurance, paint for the external fence, rent and maintenance of the portoloo and other maintenance requirements and membership of SAGS etc. The fees are not sufficient to cover all of these costs and we do carry out a number of fundraising activities to cover the remainder. however i am pretty sure it amounts to a much smaller amount than generated by our fees.

  4. Well done to Mr Mullins, at least now a precedent has been set that can be used in other similar situations of allotment societies going to court.

  5. Taniluke says:

    Our rents were increased by 100 % last year from £58.00 for a 5 pole to £118.00 , this year they are proposing a further 5.2% rise. We get water , but that is it as far as amenities go. Our association is fighting this rise , maybe this ruling will help!

  6. Jeremy Edwards says:

    For our rent the Council supply a toilet block, which we have had to work hard to get them to fund a refurbishment, and they do necessary repairs to the equipment shed. We have a self-management agreement but all other facitlities on site are funded and provided by the site committee (pavilion, shop, Sunday morning refreshments etc.

  7. Paul says:

    Well done. I paid my dues for this year last night. Mine is on a privately owned site. We get water and a sqaure metre in a poly-tunnel. It is £75 for a half plot. I don’t think our landlord is profiteering, in fact he genuinely wants to provide a community facility. I think this is a reflection of what you could expect to pay if councils sought to apply commercial rates. How they could justify more than this is unclear. I’m in a small midlands town with high-ish property values, but our land is not designated for residential development. Its alternative use would be as rough grazing. It is a long narrow site, so probably wouldn’t command a very high rent. Good luck to others who mount a challenge.

    • John MacLaughlin says:

      @Paul: Good morning Paul. Reference your site. Whereabouts in the Midlands are you and what is the actual size of your allotments?.I am trying to compile a comparison chart for out own AGM in two weeks time. We voted 2 years ago to increase our rents by £1 per year but had many protests. Our plots are 100ft x 30 feet and at present our rent is £17 per annum and that is with water laid on. I live outside Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

  8. Glyn says:

    Canterbury City Council has proposed for allotment rent’s to increase from 52.00p to £104.00p per full plot and a half plot to £52.00p from 01st October 2012 to 30th September 2013

    Not good for those on lower incoms or pensioners. Their are no proposals to even try and subsidise this for them.

  9. Steve says:

    Here in Christchurch we are in the middle of a review of policy regarding allotments as well as a plan to develop the our site. The site is protected through statute so they plan to move us. However the policy review is planning to move us to cost neutrality; i.e. no subsidy from the council. The comparison in the Eastleigh case with other leisure services may well be useful in our case!

  10. Diane says:

    Our plot is expensive but we’ve got to raise money for legal fees to go self-managed. Once that’s done we’ll need money for any improvements we want.

    There should be subsidies for allotments from health budgets. Allotments are good for physical and mental health!

  11. man says:

    Bletchley council i taking away the discount of fifty percent for the retired tenets of this age will have to pay double of their normal rent + any increase

  12. Paul says:

    Runcorn Cheshire 31 pounds to 100 pounds! Word is they want 80. We will fight it but again pick on the old aged pensioners and the sick; the people they think cannot fight back. How wrong can they be?

  13. Alan Mole says:

    It seems I one of the very lucky ones. My rent from Swanscombe and Greenhithe council increased by £1 to £17.50 for 10 rod (about 85x26ft) plot with water. Its really sad that they are not viewed as highly prized as they should be. Here in the south of England there are huge waiting lists, I waited 2 years. If they expanded the land and plots available they could make money surely. Or do they not see the potential for health benefits, global warming and use of land in the area?

  14. Tim Fleming UKIP councillor hartlepool says:

    Hartlepool council have decided to increase the rent on allotments and I have asked the chief solicitor if this is legal, reasonable and not discriminating
    Using this case and Reigate as the basis for appeal.
    It is still ongoing

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