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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 26015
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I purchased a property with someone 7 years ago. He was someone

Customer Question

I purchased a property with someone 7 years ago. He was someone I considered a friend, and when he couldn't get the mortgage we needed I took it on in my sole name only. In return he managed the property. I've subsequently found out that large council tax bills and electricity bills have been run up in my name. He now can't find the AST's to prove who was tenanting the property at the times the bills apply to, and I am now being chased for the monies.
If I can prove I lived elsewhere and that I have never had anything to do with the day to day running of the property, am I still liable?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience. May I ask although you may not be able to find tenancy agreements, can you show that someone was living there and paying rent for the periods in question - e.g. by reference to bank statements receiving rent and/or voting registrations and so on do you think please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Joshua,

Its doubtful that any of them registered on the electoral roll, but I can check.

My former friend received all rents, so I would need to get that from him, and thus far he is proving very evasive.

I am happy to do this on a call if it speeds things up - 07989 709 810.

Best,

Ian

Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Many thanks. Finally do you know if rents were paid in cash or using traceable methods - e.g. cheque or BACS? Was your friend formally acting for you in a management role?
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Sorry for the delay in reverting to you earlier. I had to step into a meeting with a client. The position with regards ***** ***** tax is that under legislation the person that is liable to pay council tax is the first person that meets the description of a person in the following list in order:a resident owner-occupier who owns either the leasehold or freehold of all or part of the propertya resident tenanta resident who lives in the property and who is a licensee. This means that they are not a tenant, but have permission to stay thereany resident living in the property, for example, a squatteran owner of the property where no one is resident.You will therefore readily see that proving you live somewhere else will not assist you in avoiding liability for council tax if you cannot show that there was at lest someone else living in the property whether they were a tenant or not because if you cannot show that there was someone that answers the description of someone above you in the above list you will see that liability for council defaults to you as legal owner of the property. However you will also note that it is not necessary to prove that a person living there was a tenant in order to direct liability to them. All that you need to do is prove on the balanace of probability that there was someone living there for the relevant periods and show who they were. Ideally of course you will have a tenancy agreement and evidence of rent payments but if the tenancy agreement has been lost, then instead of that, you could rely on bank statements showing evidence of rent being paid which would identify the payer. This could be sufficient on its own but if you have any other complimentary evidence this would be all the better. For example if the tenants deposit was protected (as it should have been) the deposit protection service your friend used would have details of the tenancies to compliment bank records. There is also evidence you might be able to obtain from electoral roll and search companies such as 192.com which have records sourced from various sources about occupation records for properties for a small fee. Obviously you will be reliant on your friend to some considerable degree but if he was formally or informally acting for you as your agent in return for an agreement then he has fiduciary responsibilities to you to act in your interests and to maintain records and courld be personall financially liable to you if he is negligent in this respect. Providing you can produce the above or an assortment of the above evidence to identify who was living there for what period on the balance of probability this is sufficient to redirect liability for council tax. Have I been able to help you with all your questions on the above?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Joshua.

What about the electricity bill?

Is this the same?

They are threatening to litigate currently.

Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
May I clarify - did the tenant ever sign up with an energy provider or did they never make contact with the energy provider threatening action to agree a supply contract?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It appears the bill has always been in my name, so no other people have been listed.

Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. If they did not contact an energy provider to enter into a new contract then something known as a deemed supply takes effect under utilities legislation. This allows suppliers to create a deemed supply with the person in occupation or failing which owner for any energy supplied to the property.Your liability under a deemed supply will follow very closely what we have discussed above for council tax in that the person responsible for the deemed supplier is either the occuper or failing which the owner.Your firend if he was doing his job properly should of course maintain paper records showing occupation for at lesat 6 years and take readings and record evidence of those readings at the start and end of every tenancy in order to ensure you do not pay for energy others have consumed. If you can prove on the balance of probability occupation of the property for the periods the supplier is pursuing you can transfer liability to them thought there could still be an argument about readings if none have been taken.Can I help you with anything else or has the above answered your questions satisfactorily?
Joshua and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Joshua - that seems pretty clear.

I'll try and speak to him regarding the proof of rent, but in the event he goes quiet on me/ignores me, what would my options be?

Could I get a court order to make him surrender the records?

Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
If he is holding or has held monies on your behalf in one of his accounts then you have a right to see the accounts relating to those monies because the legal position is that he held those monies on trust for you and as a beneficiary you have a right to see accounts.