'Just before Christmas I recieved a letter from the council's local office telling me I was two weeks in rent arrears,' says Edinburgh City Council tenant Eddie Murray who lives in the city's Muirhouse area. 'The letter stated I was in breach of the Missive of Let (tenancy agreement) and that if I didn't stump up two weeks rent right away then 'legal action' would be taken against me, leading to possible eviction. But when I checked my rent book, I was in fact in credit. This wasn't the first time I'd recieved such a letter - in fact the local office seems to send them out willy-nilly.'
Investigation revealed that working tenants who pay their rent at the post office are being inundated with these threatening letters. Why? 'I demanded an up-to-date Statement of Rent from the Council,' says Murray, 'and when it arrived I checked the payment dates in my rent book against the payment dates on the Statement. They regularly differed by as much as five days. I wrote to the local office and told them - my rent is paid in full, every week. If it takes the post office a week to forward it to the council, then that's their problem, not mine. Stop sending me threatening letters!
Edinburgh City Council seems to be engaged in some aggressive 'rent drive.' A row of garage lockups near his flat had its roof completely blown off in a gale last autumn and now lies open to the elements - but those who rented them are still receiving rent demands and threats of legal action from the council. 'Seems like the cooncil's broke,' says Murray, 'and as usual they're trying to intimidate dosh out of those who can afford it least. I work part time and earn just about enough to body and soul lashings together. These tower block flats are impossible to heat in the winter and often I'm forced to choose, like so many others, between 'heating and eating.' The last thing I need are these threatening letters about non-existent rent arrears.'