POA? No, Not “Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban”

     You’ve got a prospective tenant arrive at your door wanting to lease your house that you just put on the market.  It’s a well-dressed man in an expensive looking suit so you think you’ve hit the jackpot.  No parties, no damage to the condo or house, great upkeep and no problems.  They look at the house or condo, you go back to the office and voila: they pull out a POA:  Power of Attorney for someone else who isn’t there to sign the lease.

     You think “ok, this looks official” and it turns out the man is an attorney for a firm in town.  You draw up the paperwork and he signs his name and “POA”.  You’ve seen this done on checks and other official paperwork, so you take the down payment and first months rent then hand over the keys.   Now you’ve got this niggling little doubt in the back of your mind.  Was it legal? 

      Florida Statute 709.08 sets forth the law regarding Durable POA documents in Florida drafted after October 1, 1995. This statute authorizes the attorney in fact to handle real estate transactions. In fact, it authorizes the attorney in fact to sell the house of the principal! Section 709.08 (1) states that a durable power of attorney is a written power by which a principal designates another as the principal’s attorney in fact. The section further adds that with the correct wording, the Durable POA can survive the subsequent incapacity on the part of the principal.  So in this instance, you are in the right.

     Here are some more Florida Statues for POA: Section 709.08 (11) states that the unreasonable refusal of a third party to allow an attorney in fact to act pursuant to the power could subject the third party to liability for attorney’s fees and costs if the third party is sued and loses in court. That dollar amount could be quiet substantial. It is best to call your attorney if there is any doubt in how you should proceed before refusing to allow the attorney in fact to act. As you know, litigation can be very costly! You should also be aware that Florida recognizes the deployment-contingent POA. Section 709.11 of the Florida Statutes requires a property manager to accept a valid power of attorney that is signed in advance by the principal which takes effect once the principal is deployed by the military.

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