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Tenant Didn't Pay Bills And Now Wants Me To Pay

(37 Posts)
LessMissAbs Thu 08-Nov-12 01:01:36

Give me your opinons on this. Have been contacted by someone on behalf of ex flatmate to say they are being chased by debt collectors for a bill which was originally £270 and is now £600 for unpaid gas. I was the owner of the property but only stayed there occasionally when working in the town, and the bills were split 40/60 me/tenant in the lease. So he actually had a very good deal as pretty much sole usage of the flat and only paid 60% of all bills despite being alone 90% of the time. I gave the tenant my 40% share to pay the bills on them coming due, sometimes in cash and sometimes by cheque, so not that easy to prove although I can trace some of the cheques.

The bills were in tenant's name. I always make a point of paying bills on time but suspected getting a contribution out of tenant would be like getting blood out of a stone unless they were in his name.

On moving out, tenant got awkward and refused to return keys, so I got police involved and on their advice deducted charges for changing the locks (with) plus the outstanding amount of Council Tax, a minimal amount, and wrote a letter to him explaining this, returning about 1/3 of the deposit. The lease stated tenant was responsible for all oustanding bills incurred by him, whether covered by his deposit or not.

Tenant refused to leave a forwarding address and I did contact the utility provider to say I suspected he had outstanding bills and I wanted to use his deposit to pay them. Utility provider refused to divulge the information to me and told me it would be his duty to pay them as his name was on the bills and I need not be involved further as they would pass it onto debt collectors if necessary.

Tenant is now, 15 months later, claiming that I promised to pay all outstanding bills for him from the deductions from his deposit, and that I should pay the amount, and wants me to sort it for him. Apparantly has been to Citizens Advice who told him I should give my address to the debt collectors so they can collect the money from me.

For some reason, his ex girlfriend is involved and I have been told I am a thief, there is no record of me paying any bills for him (well, no!), I am this, I am that, karma will come and get me, etc, etc...he is sueing me for stealing his deposit...constant harassment over Facebook and asking friends for my address and saying they will send the letter about the refund to other people as "evidence".

AIBU to insist this is not my debt and to be irked?

WelshMaenad Thu 08-Nov-12 01:03:23


His name on bill, his liability.


SavoyCabbage Thu 08-Nov-12 01:05:53

Well of course YANBU!

If they are in his name then how can he tell the debt collectors that they are your bills. You could just say 'Rod Stewart agreed to pay mu gas bill' if that was the law.

I would get every scrap of paperwork that you have and then go to Citizen's Advice yourself.

You could also go to the Police about the harassment.

Cahoots Thu 08-Nov-12 01:10:55

I think this is pretty straightforward, it's not your debt and you do not have to do anything. I would, however, keep records of all correspondence from him and I would take screen shots of any Facebook comments etc. Don't get sucked into arguing about it.
Otherwise refuse to discuss this any further and IGNORE.

Good luck smile

LessMissAbs Thu 08-Nov-12 01:15:34

According to the ex-girlfriend (a former friend of mine, which is why I got landed with the Tenant in the first place), I am a dishonest person who has ripped Tenant off and screwed him over (although I actually bribed him with letting him off with his non-payment of rent to actually get him to move out), I'm a wrong un with a volatile personality, I'm a drama queen, I'm crazy and putting up a smoke screen to hide my guilt, I'm defensive as a sign of my guilt, I'm racist, I'm a bully, etc, etc.. All this by pm on Facebook.

I really find it very upsetting being accused of being a thief. I have never stolen anything in my life and always paid my bills promptly. After a while I began to suspect that the Tenant the type that tried to persuade women to subsidise him through life.

Its as if former Tenant and his ex are living in some fantasy world where I am some benefactor who pays all the debts of someone else. They seem to think I promised to pay all his oustanding bills by deducting some money from his deposit, even though the deposit wouldn't have been enough to pay all the oustanding bills, if the utility company had revelealed the figure to me - only now found out it was £270.

silvermutha Thu 08-Nov-12 02:39:36

The ex tenant and your presumably soon to be ex friend are taking the piss. His name on the bill, his debt and he cannot just pass it on. So long as you know you paid him what you owed, hopefully karma will indeed do it's work, probably when he rips off his gf and she realises you were being honest.
Try not to get drawn into public slanging on fb will them that look bad. Might be worth going to CAB or money advice just to get clarity and have a record of your statement.

MrsTerryPratchett Thu 08-Nov-12 02:46:03

Did you retain some of the deposit without damages to that amount?

MortimersRaven Thu 08-Nov-12 02:51:22

The tenant and his girlfriend can say whatever they want.

The law decides who's liable and if the utility company wouldn't even give you the details that's a concrete indication this is none of your business to be dealing with.

Personally I'd wait until I was contacted in writing by one of these companies and only then enter into a discussion. I doubt they will contact you, except in an attempt to track the ex-tenant down.

Icelollycraving Thu 08-Nov-12 04:54:44

Block them both on Fb. Debt is in his name,he has to pay.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 08-Nov-12 04:57:22

Just to double check? You took the lock changing/council tax out of his deposit and then returned the rest?

If so, it's his problem. Don't engage with him/girlfriend.

However, if you retained additional deposit for paying off his bills then you may have an issue.

notnagging Thu 08-Nov-12 05:04:49

Yanbu. I had a similar experience with a tenant being chased. My property is now on card payments for gas and electric, so much easier! Not your responsibility as bills are in tenants name so nothing they can do.

EagleRiderDirk Thu 08-Nov-12 05:36:44

Cab would never have given that advice out unless there's a written agreement that you would pay the bills/debt. It's total bs. I think pp has hit the nail in the head about getting per paid meters. Also block the ex gf. She sounds nuts and my guess is this won't be the first time she's done something like this. People will see her for what she is soon enough.
Yanbu. In fact yabu to even wonder if yabu!

Mosman Thu 08-Nov-12 05:49:05

I do not believe they have even been to the CAB. Debt in your name is to be paid by you even if you took a loan out and gave it to somebody else it's is still your responsibility, the CAB would not have said anything else

RantyMcRantpants Thu 08-Nov-12 06:02:06

Who is liable to pay the bill

The occupier of the property is normally responsible for paying water charges. If someone shares accommodation, the liability is shared even if the bill is only in one name. An occupier who remains in a property after the person with whom they shared has left (for example, if partners have separated) may be held responsible for current charges and any arrears. The company may also seek to recover money owed by the person who has left the accommodation.

From the above it appears to matter not if your name was on the bill for water

For electricity and gas, seems to be different.

HecatePropylaea Thu 08-Nov-12 06:37:55

Just block her on fb so she can't send you messages and let him deal with the bills.

Gather all the evidence you have in case he does take you to court. you know the truth. And he does too. If he's being chased - it's his own fault and he knows it.

spoonsspoonsspoons Thu 08-Nov-12 07:08:06

If you stayed at the property as well he was a lodger not a tenant. This is likely to affect the legalities of the situation

samandi Thu 08-Nov-12 09:38:53

Why didn't you just return his deposit as you couldn't pay the bills? Then it's nothing to do with you anymore and up to the debt collection company to chase him if they want.

samandi Thu 08-Nov-12 09:40:36

Oops, sorry just saw you returned the rest of the deposit after locks etc. YANBU.

schoolgovernor Thu 08-Nov-12 10:10:38

On here you will get mixed advice, some of it incorrect (some of the above is already). Use your landlords insurance to get some advice, or get over to a landlords' forum and post there. I don't think CAB will advise you because they consider that as a landlord you are running a business, but you can try.
The occupier of the property is responsible for notifying utilities providers that they are there, and for paying the bills. If you just stayed very occasionally when in town (and you obviously had a personal link to the tenant through your ex-friend) then I can't see that would make you liable to pay any bills at all. I'm sure legal advice will confirm this.
The only niggle I have with your post is that you are talking about a deposit as if you dealt with it yourself. When did the tenancy start? I suspect that you are in breach of your legal obligation to register the deposit with a Tenant Deposit Scheme, where it would have been held until the tenancy ended.
Whatever you do, I feel you should stop engaging with your ex tenant, his girlfriend, utility providers etc until you have had some proper advice. Don't do anything to admit liability at this stage.

schoolgovernor Thu 08-Nov-12 10:17:25

p.s. The reason I think that you haven't registered the deposit is because if you had you wouldn't have had the choice of holding back some of it to pay his bill. It would have been dealt with by the TDS, and they wouldn't withhold for that reason.
You can be fined for not registering the deposit (info available on-line) but there is no point in confusing that with this issue. So for example if someone tells you to pay the bill in case the tenant decides to report you for not registering - they could do that anyway whether or not you pay. So personally I'd just keep quiet about it and hope they don't.

EmmelineGoulden Thu 08-Nov-12 10:19:01

Presumably the deposit was held in a scheme and you have documentation about the amount you withheld and why, and the rest is documented as being returned to him? So it will be clear and documented that you did not withhold deposit to pay off bills.

If the contract says utilities are split 40/60 and you cannot document all the 40% you gave to him, he may be able to lie and so claim what's left of that 40% back off you again. But you have discharged your actual obligation and I'd wait for him to go to small claims court for, presumably, less than £100 if he has the gall.

schoolgovernor Thu 08-Nov-12 10:32:46

The bill was in the tenant's name and he was responsible for paying for it. The 60/40 split in the agreement is a separate issue, and won't make op responsible for paying any part of the bill to the utility company. As was made clear when she contacted them.

fergoose Thu 08-Nov-12 10:35:13

if you were living at the property at the same time you could actually be liable for some of the bill - regardless of whose name is on the account

You are considered to be 'mutually enjoying' the utilities so if it went to court you may be pursued for some of the bill.

LessMissAbs Thu 08-Nov-12 10:36:29

It was 15 months ago and I'm in a part of the UK where the tenants deposit scheme was'nt in force then. I withheld roughly 2/3 of his deposit, most of which was taken up by the cost of changing the locks, and the remainder for his unpaid estimated share of bills since the last quarterly one, unpaid council tax for that short period and also cleaning costs, because I had to clean the carpet once he moved out. It wasn't a massive deposit to start with and certainly wouldn't have covered £270 of unpaid bills at that stage, even if I had retained it all.

Its true, he may lie in court but even so the bills are in his name and he should have paid them. I suspect what has happened is that the debt collectors have finally tracked him down, perhaps at his work, and the debt has now accumulated to £600 and he is panicked. For some reason, he always phones his ex girlfriend and puts on the sob story whenever he is upset, and the pair of them have concocted this scheme to to try and make me pay off his outstanding debts. Perhaps they honestly believe for some unknown reason that retaining part of a deposit means a tenant is absolved for all liability on existing debts. That is what they are trying to tell me.

Thats the only logical explanation I can think of, because theres certainly no rational in any of the rest of it. And I am now being blamed by two vindictive nutters for not paying a grown man's bills for him, and for refusing to sort out his debts.

Thanks all for your helpful comments, I'm horrified people could behave in this way. As if I'm some kind of cash cow for them to turn to when they need their debts paid.

mycatlikestwiglets Thu 08-Nov-12 11:31:15

There are two separate points here which you need to bear in mind:

1. The tenant's name was on the bills, so it is the tenant who is directly liable to the utility companies, not you.

2. However, you say in the OP that the lease splits the responsibility for bills 60/40 between you. That means that the tenant has a right of recourse against you for your share if you haven't paid it (so although the tenant has primary responsibility for the bills, he has a separate contractual claim against you for your share).

If you can show that you gave your share of each and every bill to the tenant to pay, you are absolutely in the right here. However, if you didn't, there could be an issue. If it's the case that you gave the money to the tenant and he didn't pay, any debt which has built up as a result will absolutely be his problem and not yours.

Sorry to hear about your situation btw, it's a salutary lesson not to do business with friends because when things go wrong they seem to go very wrong.

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