Guidelines - Part 1
Tenancy Agreement and Allotment Rules
Your Tenancy Agreement with Pathways
Pathways owns the allotment site and is your landlord. Generally, you have a twelve month tenancy. It does not carry over from one year to another, the tenancy must be renewed annually. Pathways fixes the rent and any other charges and this is payable in advance in accordance with the timetable set by Pathways. Please note that failure to either sign and return the Tenancy Agreement or to pay the rent by the due date may put your tenancy renewal at risk. If you know you are going to be away before the renewal date, you should make arrangements to ensure you renew your allotment tenancy, by having mail forwarded to you or otherwise, as appropriate.
Until now, the tenancy has always run from 1st April to 31st March. But from 2018 tenancies will run from 1st October to 30th September each year. This is so the tenancy period will fit in better with the growing season. Tenants giving up their allotment at the end of September will be able to harvest their summer crop and new tenants will have time to dig their plots ready for the following spring.
What is Cultivation?
In signing the Tenancy Agreement you agree to grow only fruit, vegetables and flowers for the use of you and your family. (2.b) Cultivation refers to the whole cycle of activities needed to produce a crop, from digging it over in the winter, manuring, sowing, weeding, watering, harvesting and back to digging. Here are some of the things we would expect to see on your plot.
In the main growing season:
• Fruit, vegetables and/or flowers
• Lawn and grass paths mowed and trimmed
• No weeds going to seed
• No brambles or couch grass creeping around the plot
In the winter months:
• The above (but obviously less fruit, veg and flowers)
• Growing areas being prepared (and covered to suppress weeds)
- Beds dug over ready for the winter frost
• Or if ‘no-dig’ methods are being used - a clean bed with no weeds
• Green manures being grown
• Green waste material being composted
- Other waste materials being removed
New tenants usually take on an overgrown plot and it may take some time to get it all under control. So we have set some targets which we think are reasonable. A new tenant should have at least 25% of their plot cultivated in their first three months on site. We would then expect up to 50% of their plot cultivated after 6 months of taking tenancy. By 12 months we would expect 75% cultivation. In year two and beyond a minimum of 75% of the plot should be cultivated.
Around 10% of the plot can be occupied by a shed, composting area, water storage. (Don't forget you must ask permission to erect a shed, greenhouse or poly-tunnel - see below.)
Our management agreement with Pathways requires EDAS to carry out plot inspections. These are carried out by members of the committee on a regular basis – at least twice a year. If problems are apparent or a neighbour complains we will inspect as quickly as possible.
Initially we look at the entire plot to see that the majority of the plot is being cultivated and cropped or whether large areas have been left unworked or neglected.
Next, we look at the level of weed growth on the plot. Everyone has a few weeds sprouting on their plot. We are most concerned with weeds going to seed in large areas of the plot and causing a nuisance to neighbours. We also look at uncontrolled areas of perennial weeds such as couch grass, ground elder, brambles, nettles and unmanaged grass. (2.c)
We take the season into account. At mid-summer, most of the plot should contain fruit, vegetables or flowers. Plots mostly covered are notconsidered to be cultivated.
During the autumn and winter months, we will be looking to see that plots are being cleared and improved with manure or composted materials.
We will also look at the level of waste on the plot, in particular if new waste materials have been brought onto the site. Plot holders like to recycle and find it hard to pass a skip. But those recycled materials need to be used not just stored indefinitely. (2.d)
As stated, there are two annual inspections required by Pathways and each is carried out by at least two committee members. A standard form is completed and photographs taken to provide a record. The website shows a copy of the survey form and has pictures to illustrate the kind of issues which we will be looking for. If there are problems, one or more non-cultivation letters will be issued and the process can potentially end up with a letter terminating the tenancy. The sequence is broadly as follows:
1) Firstly the allotments are surveyed, the survey form completed and photos taken;
2) Where plots are considered below the cultivation standard, a non-cultivation letter is sent to the tenant, giving two weeks to bring the plot up to standard (anyone with a full plot will be asked to consider reducing to a half plot at this stage);
4) If the tenant replies to say they are ill and unable to tend the plot, they will receive a letter setting out some options to consider, but it should be noted that the committee will not simply allow the condition of the allotment to deteriorate further;
5) After the two weeks have elapsed, the plot will be inspected a second time and compared with the pictures taken previously;
6) If the situation has improved sufficiently, the tenant will receive a letter thanking them for their efforts; but finally,
7) If the situation has not improved, the tenant will be served with a letter of intention to terminate their tenancy within 28 days.
Termination is the last resort and happens very rarely. Tenants receiving such a letter have the right to appeal directly to our landlord, Pathways, but this must be done within the 28 day notice period.
We do realise you have a life outside the allotment and there may be reasons for not cultivating a plot for a temporary period, for example because of illness, hospitalisation or bereavement. However, even under these circumstances the committee would expect the plot-holder to ensure that other allotment holders are not affected by weeds. If you are having problems and falling behind please contact us (email address here). We will do our best to help and may be able to put you in touch with people willing to strim your plot for a fee.
Absentee gardeners are those who, generally on receipt of a non-cultivation letter, get someone else to dig over and weed the plot. There’s nothing wrong with getting a little help from family and friends, but Pathways and EDAS expect that the plot-holder will be in attendanceand will be the main contributor to the allotment maintenance, otherwise it will be assumed that the plot-holder has neither the time nor interest to maintain the allotment and the tenancy may be terminated.
By entering into your tenancy youexpressly agree not to sublet or part with possession of your plot or any part of it. Also you cannot pass on your tenancy to another person, even a member of your family. If you need to involve others in cultivating your plot you should make contact with the EDAS committee first. (2.q) We need to know who is on site and how to contact them if there is a problem.
All paths on the allotment must be kept clear for access. (2.e) It is the plot-holder’s responsibility to maintain the side paths between plots at 45 cms wide. The Long Walk from Occupation Road to Mattock Lane must be a minimum of 1m wide. EDAS will cut the grass and generally maintain the Central Path and the Long Walk, which dissect the site. Plotholders should keep the grass on the side paths between plots to a reasonable length, sharing the responsibility with their immediate neighbours. The surface of side paths must be of grass or wood chips only. Other materials make maintenance more difficult in the long run. Carpet should never be used on paths as it becomes very slippery when wet. Sheds and other structures should be set back at least 30 cms (1 ft) inside the plot boundary, to ensure they do not obstruct paths. Trees need a greater margin, taking into account how large they will grow, the eventual spread of the branches and foliage once they are mature and the effect this will have on neighbouring plots.
Vehicle Access and Parking
Only the central gate on Northfield Avenue provides vehicle access and there is very limited space to park on the Central Path, which must be shared by all. For this reason, vehicles must only be brought onto the site to deliver or collect heavy or bulky items. Parking is strictly limited to half an hour for these purposes. Please park clear of the gates and leave space for people to walk around your car, possibly with a wheelbarrow. It is also a good idea to leave your mobile number and plot number in the windscreen, so that anyone else needing access can contact you.
Our hedge is a great asset to the allotments, providing an extra security barrier, screening from the main road and a habitat for wildlife. It was originally planted when the allotments were formed in 1832 and its importance is recognised by Ealing council as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). For these reasons allotment plots are defined in your Tenancy Agreement as starting 1.5m (5ft) back from the green fence, so excluding the hedge from anyone’s plot. Please do not encroach into the hedgerow in any way: do not cut it back, do not dump or store stones, weeds, building materials, rubbish or any other materials in the hedge. (2.h)
Please do not plant any new trees or shrubs in the hedge even if you have a gap or thin patch. EDAS is responsible for maintenance of the hedge and has already planted several hundred native English hedgerow plants sourced in the UK, to prevent importing disease. This planting and maintenance will continue annually as funds allow. If you have a problem with the hedge bordering your plot please raise it with a committee member.
You must not run a business from the allotments. (2.b) You cannot grow produce for sale on your plot - it must be for you and your family’s personal use or to give away to friends and neighbours. EDAS holds a number of open events during the year and a small amount of pot plants and produce is made available for sale to visitors, with all proceeds being used to improve the allotment site. We would strongly encourage all plot holders to get involved in these activities.
We are all responsible for keeping our allotments secure, in order to provide a safe environment for tenants to enjoy their plots in peace. The most important way you can help is by always locking the gate behind you, even when you are only ‘nipping’ in or out for a short period. You must never tamper with or change the padlocks. Report any theft or incidents to a committee member and if you witness an incident occurring, phone 101 or 999 if it is an emergency. (2.o)
The green perimeter fence, for which you pay the annual ‘Fencing Charge’ of £18.60, is there to keep the site secure. Since the fence was built, the incidence of trespass, theft, damage to property, sleeping and drug taking in sheds etc., has been greatly reduced, although it can never be eliminated entirely. Please take care not to damage the fence or provide any structure which could help people climb it. Report any defects to the committee.
We would hope that no-one needs to be told not to steal other people’s property but it is worth mentioning that as a matter of allotment etiquette, you should not enter onto anyone else’s plot without permission. Acting in an abusive or aggressive manner towards other allotment holders, the staff or agents of Pathways will not be tolerated. (2.f)
Please note, your Tenancy Agreement forbids the use of barbed wire anywhere on the allotments. (2.g)
Your Tenancy Agreement says that you must get the committee’s permission to plant any new trees. You can of course have fruit trees, but plots must not become orchards. A fruit tree planted as a whip will one day grow into a large tree. They take up a lot of water and nutrients from the ground and shade other plants from sunlight - potentially your neighbour’s plants. For these reasons, no more than 25% of your plot must be covered by trees and if you have a full size plot, the 25% must be split evenly between the two halves so that when/if the plot is divided in two, neither half is totally dominated by trees.(2.b)
Pesticides and Chemicals
You must not bring onto the allotments any illegal pesticides or chemical agents. If you need to use lawful herbicides or insecticides, you should use the minimum effective amounts appropriate to the size of your plot. Handle, use and store them with care and in accordance with the maker’s instructions. Never pour them into unmarked containers and keep them safe and away from children, pets and wildlife. (2.p)
Other Prohibited Materials and Waste
Never bring carpets or tyres onto the allotments - they may pose a hazard or contaminate the soil. They must not be burned, will not rot and so are difficult to get rid of. Only bring in building materials which you have an immediate use for. Do not hoard materials, just because they may come in handy one day. (2.d)
Do not bring in items from home as a way of disposing of them. We used to have a scrap metal enclosure for old iron found on the site, until this was misused by people dumping their unwanted household items.
We will aim to provide at least one skip a year for tenants’ use, more if resources allow, but they are expensive and plotholders must not rely on EDAS to dispose of all their rubbish. If you can bag up your rubbish and take it home it will save us money.
Sheds, Greenhouses and Poly-tunnels
TheTenancy Agreement states that you need the Charity’s written consent to erect any building, shed, greenhouse or poly-tunnel. You should apply to the EDAS committee as Pathways’ managing agent, for this consent. Note that no such structure may be placed on a hard standing - removeable slabs on earth or sand are acceptable. (2.m)
Here are the basics we are looking for:
- The structure must be temporary, i.e. not built of brick or concrete, including the foundation.
- The shed or greenhouse must not be larger than 3m x 3.6m (12ft x 10ft) for a full plot or 2.4m x 2.1m (8ft x 7ft) for a half plot.
- It must not be taller than 2m (6ft 7in) at its highest point.
- It must stay within the confines of your plot and not encroach on the paths.
- The maximum size for a poly-tunnel is 2m x 4m.
Please be sympathetic to your neighbours and ensure your new structure doesn’t cast too much shade on their plot. Even greenhouses cast shade. Leave a margin of 30cm (1 ft) between the shed and adjacent paths, to allow easy passage with wheelbarrows etc.
On a separate note, please be aware that the shed and its contents are not covered by our insurance policy and neither Pathways or EDAS accept liability for any loss or damage. Also you must remove the contents of your shed when your tenancy ends. It is unfair to leave your unwanted possessions to be cleared by the new tenant.
Once your shed/greenhouse has been erected it will be inspected by the allotment committee and if it fails to meet the above requirements, you will have to alter it at your own expense. Check with a committee member beforehand, if you are unsure. Any structure must be maintained in good condition and never be allowed to deteriorate into an unstable or dangerous state.
Mains water supply is available between 1st May and 30th September each year. The mains water is accessed via dip-tanks from which you may fill your watering cans. You must not attach a hose to the water taps. Thames Water consider that this carries a risk of contaminating drinking water, through possible back-siphonage and as such would breach the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations, 1999 and be subject to a possible fine of up to £1000. (2.l) There are more water tips in Part 2.
Following complaints, the policy on bonfires has become more restrictive. In the tenancy agreement, bonfires are outlawed, unless permitted by your committee. As it is not practical to issue individual permissions, the committee has decided to allow bonfires during the winter, from 1st November to 31st March. We will monitor any complaints during this period to see if the policy needs to be amended. Plotholders can help considerably by ensuring that they burn only dry material, to reduce the amount of smoke created. You should only be burning dead plant material and never burn plastic, rubber or other materials which create noxious and potentially harmful fumes. If the new bonfire period fails to reduce complaints, we may have to further limit bonfires. (2.t)
Children, Visitors and Pets
Children are very welcome on the allotments, however it is important that they are supervised by a responsible adult. Your tenancy says that children aged 12 or under are not allowed onto the allotments unless accompanied at all times by the plot-holder, who should ensure that they do not trespass on other plots. This also applies to visitors you bring to the allotments. Pets should be kept on a leash at all times. (2.n and 2.s)
You may not keep chickens or other livestock on the allotments. The one possible exception to this is bees, but this is only by prior agreement with EDAS. We will only agree if the applicant is sufficiently qualified and the intended site is suitable. We already have two bee-keeping sites and it is very unlikely that more than two sites would be allowed at one time. Applications should be made in writing to the committee. (2.r)
Giving Up Your Allotment
The Tenancy Agreement sets out detailed circumstances and ways for you to give up your tenancy. You may give notice at any time, but any refund of rent is entirely at the discretion of Pathways. You must return all keys to Pathways or EDAS and you must also clear the allotment of any possessions you wish to keep - tools, structures such as sheds and their contents, produce and plants. Any such possessions remaining on the allotment at the termination of the tenancy will be deemed to have been given up by the tenant and will be disposed of as seen fit. You may be charged for this cost of this disposal. (3.a - 3.e)
If you have a disagreement with a neighbour on the allotments or with an EDAS committee member or you dispute a decision made by EDAS relating to your tenancy, we would always seek to resolve this through discussion in the first place. If this does not resolve the dispute, you have the right to approach Pathways and the decision of the Chief Executive will be final and binding. In the case of a dispute between you and Pathways, the decision of the Board of Trustees will be final. (5.a and 5.b)
EDAS’s Role in Managing the Allotments
As plotholders we formed our allotment society, EDAS, in January 2015 and negotiated with Pathways to take over the management and maintenance of the allotments, acting as their managing agents from April 2015. Pathways pays EDAS a management fee, which is used to purchase equipment and to carry out necessary repairs and maintenance of the site. EDAS’s performance and finances are reported back to EDAS members each year at our Annual General Meeting. Pathways still has responsibility for major works, such as tree surgery and retains a proportion of the rental income for this purpose. The responsibilities of each party are set out in a Management Agreement.
Part of EDAS’s role as managing agent is to oversee the practical operation of the Tenancy Agreement, which places a number of responsibilities on individual allotment tenants. These ‘rules’ are mainly to avoid situations where a plot-holder’s activities might be thought inconsiderate by their neighbours or leave problems for later tenants to inherit. They are not onerous, provided that plotholders are aware of them from the outset and avoid situations which may be more difficult to undo afterwards. The rest of Part 1 is devoted to expanding on the ‘rules’ in the Tenancy Agreement and explaining what they mean in practical terms on the ground.
Please remember that the committee is made up of unpaid volunteers. While we will always try to make ourselves available to you, there may be occasions when our time has to be allocated to paid work or family commitments.