WHILE others were enjoying the festive season, Barry Liddell was finishing his 12-hour shifts and then packing up his belongings after being told to get out of his rented flat in Glasgow’s Southside.

He had been given an eviction ­notice on the grounds that the owner wanted to sell the flat but just a few days after he left, the flat was put back up for rent.

Liddell had previously refused to accept any increase in his £500-a-month rent unless his heating was ­upgraded and now believes he has been the victim of wrongful eviction and is warning that other tenants may be at risk.

Under the current rent freeze ­imposed by the Scottish Government, rents can only be put up in private rentals if there is a change in ­tenancy or if the sitting tenant agrees to a new rent.

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Under the emergency legislation, a tenant can be evicted on the grounds that the landlord needs to sell the property but Liddell claims there is no oversight or effective enforcement.

“Landlords can so easily just say they changed their mind as soon as you leave,” he said.

Liddell had been living in his one-bedroom flat for more than two years when he was asked in September if he would accept an increase in his rent.

“I wasn’t willing to pay more ­because it is an old building and there is no effective heating,” he told the Sunday National. “There are old ­storage heaters but they are ­effectively useless and the place was freezing cold. I was having to use electric ­heaters but they went through money so rapidly that a couple of hours’ use could cost a tenner so I was having to make do without.

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“I wasn’t happy to pay more, so the estate agent said he would go back to the landlord to see if the ­heating could be upgraded but five ­minutes later, he phoned back and said the landlord had decided he would just sell the flat and I would have to get out.”

Liddell was given three months’ ­notice and agreed to comply as he didn’t think he had any case to fight against the eviction.

With nowhere else to go, he stayed until the very last date allowed which was December 8 but as his ­distribution firm has a policy of no annual leave in the run-up to ­Christmas, he ended up with the stress of having to move out while working his shifts.

“I was moving furniture at three in the morning to try and work around my shifts,” he said. “I did everything I could to get the place in good ­order when I left so you can imagine my shock when I saw my flat was up for rent again only a few days after I got out.”

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Puzzled and upset, he called the ­estate agent to find out why he had been evicted when the flat was again up for rent – this time for £650 a month, a £150 increase.

“I was told the landlord had the property valued but wasn’t happy with the valuation and had changed his mind about selling,” said Liddell. “He could have had it valued while I was there but instead he took no ­action for three months and then just said he had changed his mind. There were only five working days between me leaving and them relisting it, so they wasted no time at all. It was up with new pictures before I had even got my deposit back.”

Liddell now intends to take his case to a tribunal on the grounds of ­wrongful eviction.

“I’m furious and I am not going to let it lie,” he said. “I just wonder how many other people have had the same scenario. Other tenants may be too worried they will not get a good ­reference if they make a fuss but I don’t care because I am so angry.

“It seems that landlords and ­letting agents are evicting tenants from their homes using an exemption to ­emergency legislation that is in place to protect tenants.

“However without adequate ­oversight, these exemptions are being misused to bypass those legal protections and ultimately receive a higher rent from a new tenant.”

Phoenix Property Group chief executive ­Stuart Hamilton said: “We were told by the owner that he would ­continue to rent out the flat if the rent ­increased but when we spoke to the tenant, he said under no circumstances would he pay more.”

Hamilton added that while the white meter heating system in the flat was “probably not as good as gas”, the rent was still several hundred pounds under the market value for the area.

“I’ve been in this business 35 years now and it was an ­exceptionally ­reasonably priced property,” said Hamilton. “Okay, the heating was not state-of-the-art but even on that basis it was still very cheap.”

Hamilton said that when Liddell refused to pay any more, the landlord decided to sell the flat instead.

He added: “I don’t think the ­owners factored in the timing ­because the three months notice that was ­required took it up to about two weeks before Christmas which was a bad time to put it on the market.

“The landlord then asked if he could possibly rent it out short term and then put it on the market in March or April so it was marketed for 24 hours to rent but then the ­[previous] tenant contacted me to say he wasn’t happy about that.

“I went back to the owner and ­explained the situation and he said that as he was going to sell it, just to take it off again which we did.”

Hamilton said as soon as a pending home report was completed, the flat would be put up for sale.

“The intention was always to sell the flat and this is what I have tried to get across to Barry,” he said.

Aditi Jehangir, of campaign group Living Rent, said Liddell’s case was not unusual.

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“Time and time again, we see ­landlords evict tenants under the ­pretence of selling the property only to increase the rent just days later.

“Landlords know the rules, yet they continue to try underhand tactics to maximise their profits whilst tenants are left to face the consequence of heightened rents.

“No one can afford a rent ­increase, our wages have stagnated and the cost of living has soared. But ­profit-seeking landlords are forcing tenants into precarious situations.

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“The Scottish Government cannot seriously consider ending emergency legislation with nothing to take its place. This Government needs to recognise the scale of the housing emergency and ensure tenants are protected after the rent cap ends and penalise landlords who break the rules.

“It also needs to tie rent controls to the property, not the tenancy so ­landlords cannot increase rents ­between tenancies.”