Liability to a minor

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    I am placing this post as I have been asked about a curious case……..

    Liability on the tenant’s part is not in question. However the property is owned by a two year old girl. It is not apparently being held in trust, it [u:b1bcba1460]is[/u:b1bcba1460] hers. The mother who states that she has power of attorney (acting power eternity to quote the letter!) wants us to pay the HB into the daughter’s account.

    I am not happy about the idea of paying a minor as I believe that were the authority to instigate OP recovery proceedings against the landlord we would get nowhere (Imagine the court hearing – Judge: What’s that child doing here? Defendant’s rep and/or the LA: That child IS the defendant).

    Therefore I would be grateful for any suggestions as to how we should consider the matter. Personally I’d pay the tenants and make it their responsibility to pay the rent or face the consequences but the request from the mother is there.

    ALL suggestions gratefully received.

    Do I know what I'm doing? The jury's out on that........................

    Kevin D

    My initial gut response is to pay either the clmt, or the MOTHER in her capacity of holding Power of Attorney for the 2yr old daughter.

    Grounds of decision? Protection of public funds in the event of….etc.


    Thanks Kevin…….


    It now turns out that the mother does NOT have legal power of attorney and the Land Registry entry is an “ineffective” one (which they will be investigating as it looks like a solicitor could be in very hot, nay scalding water over the transfer).

    I still hold the tenant blameless but am now more reluctant to pay the claim without knowing exactly the liability is to as it cannot be to the two – year old. The problem is that the tenants could be evicted for no fault of their own and so I sit on the horns of a dilemma with this.

    Any more suggestions?

    Do I know what I'm doing? The jury's out on that........................

    Kevin D

    To me, this is a classic case where there is not enough evidence on which to make a proper decision.

    There is now clearly a doubt as to who owns the property and there is clearly a doubt as to who a/the legitimate landlord is. If that is correct, the following options are available:

    1) wait until the situation is FULLY clarified (and, take a humungous hit on PIs – thus demonstrating the thoroughly unpleasant effect PIs have on customer service); or

    2) decide the claim is defective; or

    3) decide nil entitlement, drawing inferences on liability.

    I don’t think you can safely decide, then suspend. If you do that, it could be argued that a decision to award has been made and, by default, the circs accepted.

    If the argument shifts to “we can’t (or won’t) get the evidence / information you need…”, that is not the test. The test is what the LA reasonably needs in order to make a decision ([b:503f0f4d13]CH/4688/2003 – para 11[/b:503f0f4d13]).

    Does that help?


    Indeed it does.

    That makes me feel a lot more comfortable with (a) refusal and/or (b) requesting further details.


    Do I know what I'm doing? The jury's out on that........................


    Who owned the property before the child?

    If the transfer of the property is defective I think (but am not certain) that the prev. owner would have the right to receive rent.

    I seem to remember reading a case somewhere which confirms this & will post again if I remember anything more.

    Did your claimant know the LL was a 2-yr-old? – not sure whether or why that is relevant but I have a feeling it is!

    Kevin has pretty much summed it up, I think susppending would be dangerous.

    Personally I would go for option (3) and get the claimant to appeal – I do not see how TS can make a decision until the liabilty question has been established (you can then revise anyway and no hit on the P.I.).

    I am generally reluctant to decide a claim is defective – whilst it can be changed on the grounds that it was not defective at the time of the decision I do not think it can be made effective afterwards since it no longer exists.

    I also do not think that the eviction question is a problem as far as rent arrears are concerned. If the County Court decides that a person is entitled to receive the rent your problem with liability is pretty much.


    We have now decided to refuse the claim as showing no liability (as things stand it would not be enforceable by a two year old) and await contact.


    In answer to your question, I suspect that the tenants do not know that the property is “owned” by a two year old and the mother was the one arranging the tenancy. We also do know who owned it before as Land Reg were kind enough to tell us.

    We also suspect that any eviction would be the “illegal” sort but……….

    Do I know what I'm doing? The jury's out on that........................

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