/ Seeking legal advice - tenancy

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henwardian - on 27 Feb 2013
If anyone out there deals with tenancy law, it would be great to get a little bit of help.
This is a little protracted but I'll try to cut out must of the guff.

I signed a short assured tenancy with a council for sole occupancy of a property. A day later they (completely contrary to the contract) moved someone else in. A few days after this I met with someone from the council, made the point that I should not have to pay full rent, they agreed, said half rent would be expected. I said if they wanted the right to move people in and out arbitrarily, I would only pay half rent for the remainder of the tenancy and they could move people in and out as they wished. The council person said they thought I would only have the right to pay half rent when they wanted to use the other bedroom for someone else. The council person said they would talk to their boss about this. I asked if I needed another meeting or anything to follow it up, they said "no". In due course a letter came in the post saying half rent due each week, simple statement of rent change, no stipulation that this was time limited. I assume they have agreed to my request.

Fast forward 3 months, the 2nd person moved out, council then sent me a letter saying they would put the rent back up to full rent. I went to council a few days after receiving the letter to complain that they reneged on their half of the arrangement. The lady I related this to phoned someone else, this person said she would e-mail me in relation to the matter and freeze rent at current (half property) rate in the meantime.

Fast forward 2 and a half months and e-mail finally is sent to me. 2 days later, I request a meeting with someone capable of doing their job at the council, this is arranged for a few days after. At the meeting the council woman tells me that the tennancy is legally binding, I owe half rent that is missing for last (about) 3 months since 2nd tennant left and the letter sent to me before was a "clerical error" so holds no legal weight. That was today.

What are my options? Can I declare the tennancy invalid as they clearly didn't hold up their end? Can I flit immediately? Do I have to pay the outstanding balance? Am I bound to pay out the whole contract period? Do I have the right to declare myself a squatter.

The council is also my employer and can decide to take whatever money off my paycheck they want, how does this affect my options?

TLDR - council sign tenancy, break tenancy, make verbal agreement, send letter confirming, declare letter "clerical error", try to hold me to invalidated tenancy. What are my options?
Oceanrower - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to henwardian: IANLA but I'm pretty confident that the council can NOT take 'whatever they want' from your paycheck. Not without a court order, anyway.
johncoxmysteriously - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to henwardian:

IALA and frankly asking a question like this without providing copies of (a) the tenancy agreement (b) the letter and (c) your employment contract is a waste of time.

I don't really see your problem though. You're paying what you expected to for what you expected to get.

If what you signed was truly a tenancy then the council is in no position to introduce other occupiers without your sayso. But that brings one back to my original point....

syv_k - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to henwardian:

Phone Shelter, preferably with the paperwork in front of you when you call. They are experts.
pwo - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to henwardian: Hi. You don't say whether the tenancy is linked to your job ' for the better performance of your duties' or if it is a sole occupancy tenancy agreement. I therefore presume you are working for the Council and the tenancy is a 'grace and favour' for which you pay a 'fair rent'. Either way the tenancy agreement will state what the rent is and how its paid and the time limit for changes. If not then whoever wrote the agreement didn't do a good job on it. Given that a manager chose to move someone in (without your consent or knowledge) then a reduction in the 'fair rent' is reasonable. Once that restriction was removed then you would be liable for the full fair rent payable. Raise a grevience against the decision and see what happens.
Climbing Pieman on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to henwardian:
Not legal or professional advice ....
Henward, you are presumably still in Scotland? So maybe a Scottish short assured tenancy (Did you get an AT5?), or if it is a Council landlord could it be a Scottish assured tenancy? Or it could be a contract by virtue of your employment? Knowing which agreement you have is very important if you are asking for legal opinion. What tenancy agreement did the other tenant have? It would be useful to have a copy of that if you can get it.
Anyway, anyone giving proper advice would need to have sight of the agreement(s), other correspondence and lots more info to go further, so I will stop at that. A complex legal situation may or may not have been created and so off and get an appointment with a Solicitor asap I would say. Your options will depend on the type of contract, whether the original contract or any variation thereof was and still is legal and enforceble.
Re deduction from pay, you say they can deduct but are you sure that is what your contract of employment says? It may or may not be lawful. Again need more info, and anyone advising would need to see contract.
Remember, if the tenancy is lawful, then withholding rent lawfully due, will highly likely lead to eviction procedures/further action, and may also have serious implications on your employment contract and your credit record. For example, if the council take you to court it could lead to dismissal if the employment contract has appropriate clauses in it - I am aware some Council employee contracts say that certain convictions, will be deemed to be misconduct/gross misconduct, with the subsequent consequences that means. Much also depends on what do for the Council. Again speak to a Solicitor asap.
Hope you get it sorted out satisfactorily.

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