First post, I've done a bit of searching around and found similar issues but nothing quite the same... so please bear with me as this whole thing is quite complicated... hopeing someone can help.
Basically, in October 2006 I moved into a flat with my cousin (that sounded dodgy... er, separate rooms !!). We were both full time students at the time, I was at University, and she was at College, and went on to University the following year (same course, so I believe it is classed as a 'continuation' or something similar).
Anyway, she moved out in January 2007, and I moved out in March/April 2007 (can't quite remember which).
A couple of months ago, I got a letter from a DCA advising that GCC had instructed them to recover £854.13 from me Obviously, I phoned them to query this - they told me it was for the property that I had lived at above, for CT year 2007/2008. I advised them I did not live there at that time, and told them to send it back to GCC as an error, and thought nothing more of it. I gave them my mobile number (stupid, I know) to call me back and let me know it was sorted. Never heard a word back from them.
In June, I received another letter giving me 14 days to pay before they would take legal action. I hit the roof at this one Phoned them up again and asked them what they were playing at... "oh the council say it's up to you to prove you didn't live there".
Hit the roof again, told them I'd sort it with the council and to send it back to them again. With that I spoke to some snotty woman at GCC, told her I didn't live there and explained the circumstances of moving out so quickly (see details below). I was told that it was up to me to prove I didn't live there ! I also made it clear that even if i had lived there, I was a FT student so wouldn't have been liable anyway. "Prove it" was the response.
So, I drove to East Dunbartonshire Council HQ in Kirkintilloch, spoke to possibly the most helpful council official I have ever dealt with, explained the problem, and asked her to give me a copy of the CT exemption form I submitted to them in 2007... she went and got my file, and gave me it in less than 5 minutes !
Armed with this, I then went down to Glasgow City Councils office next to George Square... took a number and sat in line to speak to someone about it. In contrast, the woman I was met with here, was the most hostile, abrupt, and downright rude person I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with.
Told her "I didn't live there", "prove it" was the reply. Gave over my student exemption form from 2007 showing my parents address "Oh, this doesn't prove you didn't live here, you can live in 2 places at once" (?????) At that point she says "Oh, we have this form already anyway, it's not your student status that's the problem, it's your cousin, her college course ended in April 2007 so we're charging you full CT from April-October 2007 (when the lease ran out)."
At this point, I explained the circumstances regarding moving out (again, see below), and just got met with "Prove it" after every sentence I made the point, that surely it's up to them to prove I DID live there given the mountain of evidence I can supply that suggests I did not - bank statements, pay slips, etc etc, all showing my address changed sometime between March & April 2007.
They then made this suggestion: "The easiest way to make this go away" is to get a copy of your cousins student exemption for the following academic year, so 2007-2008. Now, she never bothered with this, as when she moved back to her parents she got no CT discount anyway as there was more than 1 non-eligible adult living there.... however, we have since got a CT form from EDC, sent it to her Uni, and they have returned it, filled in for that academic year. Apparently this is not acceptable to GCC.
So, I have now lost the plot entirely, and told them to take me to court. I'm actually looking forward to it I think... as far as I am concerned, I owe them nothing. I have plenty of documentary evidence that I had moved elsewhere, yet they continue to say I need to (somehow??) prove I did not live at that address, at that time. Now, i'm no lawyer, but if I remember correctly, they can't demand I try to prove a negative... It's up to them to prove I DID live there ?
Since then, I've had the DCA phoning me on my mobile several times a day... at first I was telling them I wasn't liable and that they should speak to the council, then I got fed up with them and told them to stop phoning me, put it in writing etc, now I just dont answer the phone to them.
I have also now had a letter saying they intend to instruct sherrif officers to arrest my wages and freeze my bank accounts It's hit the roof time again. Surely in order to do this, they need to actually take me to court first
Anyways, I think I really do need some help now, because I'm obviously dealing with a brick wall and I may just be getting in over my head.
One last thing, in December 2008 I changed my surname (legally), I have my amended birth certificate. They are still wirtng to and addressing me as my old name. Does this matter ?
Any thoughts much appreciated (again, see below for further detail).
Shortly after moving in, there were serious problems with the flat, flooding, being the main thing - Barrat had managed to build a block of flats that wasn't watertight. Muppets ! We then started receiving letters from the landlords finance company, GMAC (initially addressed to him), stating that he hadn't paid a penny towards his mortgage (found this out later when I started opening his mail).
I tried for several weeks to get hold of the LL, to no avail. Now, technically, I was renting from his company (ironically, a plumbing company), rather than him directly.... so I checked companies house... the company was put into administration a few weeks after I signed the lease. A recorded delivery letter I sent to him stating that if the problems weren't sorted I was terminating the lease, was returned to me undelivered marked "property boarded up." I still have a copy of the letter, but have chucked the returned envelope away.
What I was told by the letting agent (and Barrat), on the quiet, was that Barratt had given this guy 50k cash back on each of the flats that he'd purchased (so at least 100k), and that he'd then put his company into administration and disappeared. They were also trying to get hold of him.
The flooding issue then started affecting neighbours properties, so we had no option really but to let Barrat Homes come into the flat and do remedial works to stop the flooding - both for our sakes, and the sakes of the neighbours below. They had to effectively remove the whole wall and rebuild it - something about the damp course/vents being installed the wrong way round, so directing water inwards (the rebuilding of the internal wall never got done). So we were now living in a damp, draughty building site with no internal walls, the landlord had vanished, his company was in administration, and his mortgage company were threatening repossession (I'd started opening his mail at this point).
My cousin, who suffers from asthma moved out either right at the end of December or the very start of January as the dampness and draughts were causing her health problems. I had assumed I was going to lose my £1000 deposit, so I couldn't afford to just upsticks and move out... so I held on a little longer.
One moring I was woken up by an estate agent who had keys and had let himself into the flat "to survey it". I then started receiving notices "to the occupier" telling me that the flat was being repossessed, got the notice to quit etc etc etc, and then got a notice saying sheriffs officers were coming to reposess the property, change locks etc etc.... so I eventually gave up trying to contact the LL, and moved back to my dads house as I couldn't afford to move elsewhere.
I had kept a hold of all of the documents etc, the repossession notice, lease, returned mail, rent receipts etc etc... until I had a clean out about a year ago - figured I wouldn't be needing any of that stuff !
Even after explaining all of this to GCC, one of the the things they said is that my lease was from October to October, so I was liable for that full period. Now, it was a Short Assured Tenancy... I'm pretty sure those have a 6 month break-clause that can be exercised - but the point I've been making to them is that the lease was terminated 'by frustration'.
Hope someone can give me some advice regarding all of this.
Thanks for listening