OUTRAGED tenants in the district have accused housing bosses of “daylight robbery” over proposed new gardening charges.
Orbit Housing is planning to introduce the controversial charges to tend to communal areas which residents say are no more than ‘tiny and thin grass verges’.
Residents are calling on the housing association to scrap the proposed sliding scale charges which could see tenants forced to pay anything from £120 to over £500 per year on top of their rent.
Tenant Sarah Edwards, who lives on Birmingham Road in Stratford, said: “I could slightly understand if there was a communal grass area or something but there isn’t. There’s a tiny thin grass verge and that’s it. I don’t understand how they can do it.
“I’m not paying it. I struggle as it is, barely get any help, and run a whole house all on my own, on a part time wage. It’s crazy.
“If the charge is weekly you’d like to think they’ll be around every week mowing and tidying it but I’m 99 per cent sure we’ll never see them.”
Other tenants took to social media to voice their anger at the charges which one branded ‘daylight robbery’.
One tenant said: “I am lucky if they cut the grass every two months, then I have to go out and clean up my drive and garden once they have finished.”
Another said: “They don’t maintain our garden or the communal areas – not that we have any.
“We pay rent and council tax which includes maintaining the streets, so why should we pay again?
“If we all disagree paying this ‘service’ increase, I bet the rent will go up much more.”
An online petition has been launched calling on Orbit to scrap the charges, which has so far been signed by around 200 people.
Orbit service charge manager Tristan Hopper said a recent review had highlighted areas receiving grounds maintenance which should be paid for by tenants.
He added: ” We have made the decision to start charging for these so that we can pay our contractors who provide these services and continue to maintain these communities to a high standard.
“Customers in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit may be eligible to have these costs covered by their benefit payment, so we encourage those people to get in touch with our money advice team to discuss their individual circumstances.”
Orbit is holding a consultation on the plans for the new charges which, if agreed, will be introduced next year.