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tdlawyer
tdlawyer, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 1096
Experience:  11 years experience of general practice.
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Hi, I have a power of attorney for my father. i recently rented(

Resolved Question:

Hi,
I have a power of attorney for my father. i recently rented( signed on his belahf as he lives overseas) his flat to a tenant for 2 months and paid all the bills as expected. However, i was wrong to assume that the council tax was not part of my responsibilities. the tenant had left and after 3 months, he's been chased by council for that period and he's telling me that he will take legal action against me. Am i liable for the debt ( whatever it is) or will it be my father who needs to pay the debt? all the money coming out of rent was paid for his mortgage and i did not make any money out of this. the flat was alos sold ( by me) about 2 months ago.

i really appreciate an advise.
thanks
Moji
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  tdlawyer replied 3 years ago.

tdlawyer :

Hello, welcome to the website. My name is***** can assist you with this.

tdlawyer :

Is the tenancy agreement between you and him, or your father and him (but signed by you)?

Customer:

Hi, it was between Me, agency and him( i never met him) because my father was not in the country. when the property was advertsied, i showed the agency my PoA so they knew i was acting on behalf of him

Customer:

i honetly didnt know that i had to pay council tax as well.

tdlawyer :

Okay.

tdlawyer :

Then there is a further issue about what the contract says about this, does it say who is liable to pay the council tax specifically?

Customer:

there is a clause which says landlord pays all the ongoing charges apart from phone.

tdlawyer :

Can you set the text of the clause out for me please?

Customer:

18.11: to pay all outgoings for the property apart from those specified as the obligation of The Tenant in this agreement

tdlawyer :

Okay, and did you both intend this to mean that you would be liable for all expenses of whatever kind incidental to being a tenant at property, or did you mean something else?

Customer:

i was under impression that i have to pay utility bills apart from phone( which i did).

Customer:

but for council tax, i didnt know its also part of utility bills

tdlawyer :

Well, nothing specifically says it is, and this is a problem with the wording of that case, it's not very clear!

tdlawyer :

There is no answer for certain, but there is an argument to the effect that "all outgoings" means outgoings incidental to being a tenant, which would appear to include council tax.

tdlawyer :

Where the boundary stops isn't clear: does it include broadband, grass cutting etc...?

tdlawyer :

In future, you might want to specifically say in your agreements what is actually covered.

tdlawyer :

But for the here and now, it's difficult to say for sure, but my feeling is that council tax is likely to be included in this.

Customer:

ok, so the question is, do i have to pay or or is it my dad?

tdlawyer :

If the agreement is with you, then you would be liable under it. If it's in your dad's name, with you merely signing on his behalf (as his agent) then he would be liable.

Customer:

the agreement is under my name and i signed the contract because i had the power of attotney.

tdlawyer :

Okay, then it would be you that is liable. It might be, however, that you have an indemnity from your father, as you were doing it on his behalf, but ideally, that is something you would prefer in writing, although strictly speaking, it wouldn't have to be.

Customer:

can you explain it more please? i was only paying his mortgages using this and had no benefits out of this for my own

Customer:

what is an indemnity?

tdlawyer :

An indemnity is a promise by somebody to pay his debts. So an indemnity in this case, would be a promise by your father to pay any debts incurred in dealing with his business.

Customer:

i might have somthing similar which he signed with his solicitor overseas. basecally it asked me to pay any debt he has once i sold his flat. which i'd been doing since then by paying off his credit cards, council tax bills ...

Customer:

does this help? i've already paid his outstanding council bills for the last 2 years once i sold the flat.

tdlawyer :

If you can show that you made the contract in your capacity as an agent for your father, then you would not be liable, only he would.

tdlawyer :

But you need to show that you disclosed this to the tenant at the outset.

Customer:

the agency took a copy of my PoA when i gave them the key and told them im acting on behalf of him. i even sold the flat on his behalf. my solicitor can confim that i sold the flat on his behalf

tdlawyer :

Was it his agent or your agent that you told this to?

tdlawyer :

And did he (the tenant) know about your agency?

Customer:

it was the estate agency as i rented it via them. they were acting as property management as well. so agents of both

tdlawyer :

If they were his agents, then you could argue that because you told them, they have knowledge which the law deems him to know about (because his agent knows).

tdlawyer :

That would mean you're likely to escape liability.

Customer:

thats some good news. how do i reply back to the agency? the tenant has contacted me via the property management. i just need to get the terms correct.


my father is more than happy to pay and settle this, but i dont want to be taken to court for a thing which had no benefits for me

Customer:

i mean in terms of writng, what should i say that would make sence and help me

tdlawyer :

Don't worry about special words or terms: just convey what it is you intend to say - i.e. it's not your liability because you were an agent for your father and you told them that.

tdlawyer :

Even if this went to court, it would be a "small claim" and the court does not expect you to use legal terminology or anything like that. It's all information and swift. Don't worry about being technically correct etc.

Customer:

ok thats a relief. sorry to be a pain. so in short this is what i'm going to tell the estate agent: as i was acting on behalf of my father with PoA and you guys had a copy of that already, i am not liable for this. my father is more than happy to settle this but if you like to do any legal action i can forward you his address overseas

Customer:

how does it sound?

tdlawyer :

Sounds pitch perfect to me! :)

Customer:

excellent. thanks for your help. anything further you think i should add? (im just really nervous about this)

tdlawyer :

No, I don't think so. And try not to be too nervous!

tdlawyer :

Can I ask whether you're happy with the service please?

Customer:

yes i am.

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