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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 20643
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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Not sure if this is the correct category but ... I am a Pensioner

Customer Question

Not sure if this is the correct category but ...
I am a Pensioner living in a house owned by my Son.
I have paid all the outgoings for the last twenty years
The house was originally Council property and sewage is handled by a shared Septic Tank.
The sewage treatment bill from Monmouth Council used to be £30/40pa.
MHA (Monmouthshire Housing Association) took over the houses in 2008/09 and the bills became much bigger.
I asked for an explanation, asked if they got the best deal with quotes but they just said the bill is what it is.
After three years they took me to Court for three years bills amounting to £433
I had made an offer of £125 which I mentioned in my defence to the Court.
MHA withdrew the court proceedings saying that they will sue my Son instead.
They say that, as the Owner of the property, he is liable for the debt.
Can MHA do that?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Property Law
Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question here on Just answer. It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me if I need to ask for any further information from you in order for me to be able to advise you fully. My name isXXXXX and I am a practising solicitor. I have been an expert on this website in UK law since 2008. During that time, as you appreciate, I have answered thousands of questions from satisfied users on a variety of subjects.

Because we are all in practice with clients and court and other users, I might not always respond in minutes, particularly evenings and weekends. Please bear with me in that case. I will be online and off-line all day most weekdays and weekends.

Who were the bills addressed to?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The bills were addressed to me. MHA would have picked that up from Monmouth Borough Council when they took over the administration. I have paid Rates, sewage and all utilities for the last twenty years or so.


 


The six houses connected to the Septic Tank used to be Council owned but only one is now still in public ownership.

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.


I am of the opinion that there is no contract between your son and
MHA and that if they do sue him, their claim will fail.

It would be different if there was an agreement between you
whereby you agreed to pay the utility bills even though they were in his name.



However if MHA do decide to sue him, he has to do defend the
proceeds on the basis that there is no contract between him and MHA



Until they issue proceedings against your son, there he is nothing
he can do.



Incidentally, just because the price of sewage treatment trebled
does not necessarily mean that the new cost is unreasonable. It may be that the
original cost was grossly underestimated. However, you are entitled to an
explanation and they probably don't have one which is why they didn't give you
one. I imagine they have just plucked this figure out of midair.



Does that answer the question? Can I assist further or answer any
specific queries?



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PS. I use voice type, voice recognition typing because I only
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I understand your response that "there is no contract" between MHA and my Son. What about a contract between MHA and myself?


 


Is this just implied because they took over from MBC?


 


Thinking about it, there was never an actual contract with MDC. The house was purchased from the Council under the right to buy scheme and the conveyance mentioned joint responsibility for shared facilities. MDC simply went on doing what they did to the Septic Tank and sending bills.

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.
There is implied contract between you and MHA because you have been paying the bills
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I get your point but I never paid any bills from MHA because I disputed the amount.


 


Of course, I paid all the bills to Monmouthshire Council before MHA took over in 2008/09.


 

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.


In I still think it puts you on the hook and not your son.

What is certain is that one of you is liable for the costs, even
though I accept that the costs are in dispute

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes, I accept that I have to pay my share of the costs. I have a Bill from 2006 from MonCouncil for £35 pounds, so I multiplied by 3 for the three years and added a bit for inflation and offered then £125 to settle but they didn't like it and want the £433 they invoiced.



I assume they employed a Contractor but they won't give me a breakdown or tell me why the costs have grown so much.



Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.



One of the things that you have done, and this is a fatal
mistake, because you are in dispute, you have paid nothing.

I think you need to at least pay the amount that you are offered.



 



In
cases like this, I never suggest making an offer. I suggest sending a cheque.
Armed with a cheque in the hand for some of the amount that a person wants,
compared to an argument over the whole of the amount, (and arguments that the
person may win or lose) the cheque in the hand is a pretty powerful incentive
to accept it.



So
consider deciding how much you would like to pay the claimant (you need to make
it attractive enough) and send it with a covering letter headed "without
prejudice save as to costs". That means that the person cannot produce the
letter in court as any proof that you admit owing any money at all.



Tell
the claimant in the letter that you are offering this money in full and final
settlement of all claims against you, past, present and future, and that by
cashing it they accept it as such. Tell the person that if they do not accept
it, they should return the cheque to you and if they issue legal proceedings,
you will defend them on the basis of A, B, C, whatever.



Tell
the claimant that if they do not understand the significance of the letter,
they should take independent legal advice.



I
can tell you this approach works nine times out of 10, provided the offer is
reasonable and not derisory.





For legal reasons which I will not bore you with but which
go back several hundred years, the cheque must not come from you, but was come
from a third party, friend, relative, solicitor, our accountant, neighbour,
girlfriend, wife, husband, whoever, just not from you.



Here is some rather heavy reading http://www.voltimum.co.uk/news/2312/cm/the-law----full-and-final-settlement-.html



 



if you haven't already, please don't forget to positively rate my answer
service or I get no credit for my time here today. Basically, I don't get paid
anything whatsoever!



Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Ok, that seems to cover it. I will rate as requested.


 


Regards, Peter


 

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.

Thank you.

I do hope you get it sorted.

Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 20643
Experience: PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
Stuart J and 3 other UK Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sorry to bother you again but you said ...


 


cheque must not come from you, but was come
from a third party, friend, relative, solicitor, our accountant, neighbour,
girlfriend, wife, husband, whoever, just not from you


 


Did you mean that MY cheque should be sent by someone else or that the cheque should be drawn on someone else's account.


 


I can get my Son to write a cheque and letter if so.

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Ok, that makes sense I guess.


Thanks, Peter

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.
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Stuart J
Stuart J
Solicitor
20643 Satisfied Customers
PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice