In its first Allotment Strategy: Cultivating Communities(2002) City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) adopted the following comparability factors:
- The level of allotment rents in the rest of Scotland and the scale in England
- costs of other outdoor recreational or leisure activities provided by the authority.
The second of these factors was underpinned by the court case of Harwood v Reigate & Banstead Borough Councils in the High Court Chancery Division when Mr Harwood challenged a 300% rent rise and succeeded. The judge ruled that as other amenity charges had not been raised in proportion this was a discriminatory practice and unlawful. The full transcript can be read here
Furthermore the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999 makes it automatically unfair for a landlord to impose an arbitrary increase in rent. Guidance by the OFT on unfair terms in tenancy agreements indicates that unless increases are linked to such external factors as the RPI or evaluated by an objective person independent of the landlord they may be deemed to be unfair. The guidance under section 3.102 can be read here
So what has happened to allotment rents? Since 2005
- Edinburgh allotment rents have gone up 267% and are set to £100 for 2014.
- Glasgow rents have tracked the RPI and are currently £33.50
- The cost of an Edinburgh Leisure Card has dropped from £43 to £25 and the following increases made on the sports tarrif:
So inflation for Edinburgh golfers is 0%. For allotment gardeners it is 267% !
No one can be in any doubt that City of Edinburgh allotment rent rises are illegal.