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Tenancy agreement & double rent

(17 Posts)
ddrmum Fri 13-May-16 11:29:28

Hello, I'm hoping that someone can advise me on this. I have rented a garage from my council for 18yrs and it's in a block of garages next to my house.
They have now stated that they are doubling my weekly rent as my property is freehold. If I was a leaseholder or tenant then the increase doesn't apply. As a single parent, this increase makes my garage not financially viable for me.
I have asked for a copy of my original tenancy agreement from 1998 which they claim not to have, although they acknowledge that it started then. They sent me a generic tenancy from 2005 which they claim to be similar but will not clarify the differences.
I have now had an aggressive letter demanding payment of the extra charges or be served with a notice to quit sad
They have also stated that there's no way of directly contacting their legal department for clarification around the tenancy which I know it did not relate to property tenure, but unfortunately I cannot find it and that I should send any correspondence to them angry
I would appreciate any pointers on this as I'm sure it is their responsibility (as well as mine!) to retain a copy or at least provide a generic copy from 1998 - I'm sure I wasn't the only new garage tenant that year!!
Do they have the right to double my rent based on my property tenure??
Any help would be amazing. TIA x

Spickle Fri 13-May-16 14:24:34

If you're renting the garage from the Council, surely that makes them the freeholder and you the tenant?

You could get 30 minutes free time with a solicitor to see what they suggest - could be that the Council will have to supply a copy of the Tenancy Agreement to the solicitor.

Do you know anyone else who rents a garage, who has a copy of the original Tenancy Agreement who would be willing to let you have a copy?

prh47bridge Fri 13-May-16 17:50:49

If you're renting the garage from the Council, surely that makes them the freeholder and you the tenant?

I think the Council are saying that they want to increase the rent on the garage because the OP owns the freehold of his/her house.

ComtesseDeSpair Fri 13-May-16 19:58:32

Generally councils offer different rates for garage rentals to their tenants than to non-tenants or leaseholders and often give discounts for people with Motability cars etc, so yes, they do have the right to base the cost of the garage on your property tenure and / or personal circumstances. Unless your original lease for the garage guaranteed you the garage for as long as you wanted it at £X with no right of termination for the council (which seems unlikely) then it doesn't really matter what it says in the lease about tenure: provided you're not in the middle of a fixed-term rental period and your lease on the garage is a rolling month-to-month agreement / can be terminated with a X time period of notice from either party, they can just decline to renew your lease of ask you to sign a new one based on tenure and at the increased rent.

ddrmum Sat 14-May-16 10:15:15

Thank you. Comtesse - The original tenancy agreement did not relate to owner tenure but did allow for the council to terminate the context in the event of arrears - fair enough.
Spickle - I also thought they would have to provide a copy of the contract but they claim not to have one 🤔. I will ask around to see if my neighbours still have theirs. The council are known to be less than transparent over their financial dealings so I'm not surprised that they don't have a copy of my contract - a bit cynical I know! They seemed a bit amenities aback when I initially told them that I'd look for my own copy but 18yrs is quire a long time to hold onto it. I was hopeful but can't find it anywhere. I haven't looked in the garage yet though lol!!

ddrmum Sat 14-May-16 14:49:39

BTW I haven't been asked to sign any new contract at any time during the last 18yrs. Are they not responsible for providing me with a copy? TIA

ReallyTired Sat 14-May-16 14:56:18

They have increased the rent and decided to give discounts to certain groups of people. If you don't like the rent increase then you need to find another garage. It's what called market forces. I would be very surprised at any contract not allowing for increases at least in line with inflation.

Be thankful it's not your home you can't afford to rent.

needfemaleadvice Sat 14-May-16 14:59:44

Reallytired- I think its harsh to comment on OP that way because other people have different circumstances. As far as I'm concerned the OP signed a contract and if the council are not giving you the contract, is it possible to find a copy of someone else's contract signed the same time as yours? Its not binding or anything but it may give you a better idea.

needfemaleadvice Sat 14-May-16 15:01:44

Op- councils can get corrupt and a lot of councilors get away with lining their pockets with cash at the expense of other people because no one checks a council too much. What I'm saying is stick to your guns... Why don't you have a copy of the contract OP? Whenever a contract is signed its not just one document. In future if anyone signs a contract, demand more than one copy.

ReallyTired Sat 14-May-16 22:52:24

Honestly do you think it's reasonable to have no rent increase in 18 years. The value of money has been eroded by inflation.

Given that the op started renting after 1988 then I imagine that the contract would have an initial fix term and then change to a periodic tenancy. The council are doing nothing illegal.

A garage is useful, but it's not as if the op is losing her home. I hope there are other storage options in the op area. In some parts of the country it's possible to buy a garage at modest price. A lot depends on how frequency the op needs access to her belongings.

Joysmum Mon 16-May-16 11:03:55

ReallyTired

Your reasoning and opinion is not valid. What is valid is whether this situation is legal.

I'd not raised my rent for my tenants for 5 years, I couldn't suddenly raise them to market levels as that would break the terms of my tenancy agreements which states the maximum I can increase rent annually.

It is not the fault of tenants that landlords are happy at a level of rent and then suddenly want to catch up!

Joysmum Mon 16-May-16 11:05:59

...sorry hit post too soon blush

So the key here is whether this is legal. I'm afraid I don't know enough about the situation to make a useful contribution and would advise seeing a solicitor for 30 mins to query it.

ReallyTired Mon 16-May-16 13:25:43

If neither side can produce a contract then with housing it would be treated as a periodic tenancy. The landlord can end the contract with 2 months notice and the tenant can end it with one months' notice. I assume it's the same for garages. I doubt the landlord has to prove grounds for eviction because no one is being made homeless. I assume it's easier to get pocession of a garage than someone's home.

With residential landlords in England, they can charge whatever they like. Rent councils do not exist anymore. Tenants have little in the way of rights unless they have a very old tenancy and are a sitting tenant. Whether this is right or fair is a different matter.

I suggest the op goes to th citizen's advice bureau.

ddrmum Wed 18-May-16 11:30:14

Hi all, thank you all for your comments & apologies for the late response. Yes, I am very lucky Reallytired (more than you'll ever know) that I still have anot affordable roof over mine & my 3dc's heads, but we have minimal storage & no loft space hence the need to rent the garage by home. The council have been proved to be financially incompetent and are using every possible way of increasing their income. They have raised rents over time, usually nothing for 5yrs then a large increase which I do understand but this is a 100% increase on solely due to my having the freehold of my property. I see it as a backdoor leaseholder charge. I will endeavour to get some advice on this as I genuinely believe it to be unfair.
Need - I am beyond frustrated that this is missing. It is possible that my exh took it & destroyed it along with other belongings. angry
Joysmum - the legality is exactly what I am questioning & find it odd that they can't provide me with a generic email mailbox address for the councils legal team yo clarify this.
I think they must have as much obligation to retain a copy of the content as I do - maybe this is wrong?

ComtesseDeSpair Wed 18-May-16 13:02:20

Honestly, I wouldn't seek to argue the legality of whether the council can differentiate between tenants and leaseholders / non-tenants in garage rent-setting. It's an established fact that they can, and also that they can prioritise tenants in terms of garage allocation in the first place.

They should have retained a copy of the tenancy agreement (as should you) but human error means that sometimes paper files don't get copies electronically and are lost. It happens. In the absence of either of you having an agreement which states otherwise, the tenancy will be assumed to be a periodic one within which either party can give notice to quit in line with the periods, or the landlord can raise the rent by giving notice in line with the period. Again, the period will usually be assumed to be one month in the absence of either of you having proof otherwise.

Yes, you're probably right that the rent raises are a backdoor leaseholder charge, but that doesn't mean that they're "unfair" in the legal definition of the term. Garages aren't covered by the same legislation as housing tenancies are and, whilst the council should be seen to be transparent in how it sets charges, when it comes to garages they've no eventual obligation to justify how they arrive at a rent than a private landlord of a block of garages does.

I do sympathise, I'm a council leaseholder as well, and am well used to paying all sorts of charges that my tenant neighbours don't. Have you actually spoken to anyone at the council in person? It might be worth doing so and explaining your financial situation: a lot may hinge on whether or not the council have a waiting list of non-tenants wanting garages - if they don't, they may be more willing to negotiate with you about a rent you can afford for the sake of not having a void.

ComtesseDeSpair Wed 18-May-16 13:08:21

With regard to the council's legal team - generally they don't speak to anyone. They're there to give a legal position to the council on all kinds of policies, procedures and situations, rather than provide legal advice to the public on council decisions. Otherwise they'd spend all day fielding requests from the public. If you really do want a legal point of view, you'll have to find a solicitor specialising in tenancy law, I'm afraid.

ddrmum Wed 18-May-16 14:49:53

Thanks Comtesse. As far as I'm aware, there's no waiting list for these particular garages (there's 12 garages & 28 hse). I wouls assume that all the farage co trats for back then were generic so they should at least have a genetic copy. I'll ask again but it looks like a reduction in space for us is on the cards 😣 Thanks for your help on this though - much appreciated 🙂.

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