My friend moved in with his partner two years ago. His partner inherited the house after the death of her father or so she thought. She had lived with her dad there all her life and thought he owned it.

Last week the local council wrote to her claiming they own the property and that she owes 15 years back rent, from the time of her father's death.

I looked online for them and it does indeed look like the council own the property.

It is so strange. In all the time she has been there, she has regularly paid council tax but never received a demand for rent .

No council officer or workman has ever made an inspection of the property or carried out repairs or improvements.

Can the council claim all the rent arrears just like this? Could the two of them be evicted if they don't pay? Is there anything they can do?

A) You need to ask the council for copies of any demands for rent as debts prescribe after five years in Scotland. This means that debts over five years old cannot be enforced unless payment for them was sought before the five-year period was up. So only the last five years debts would be enforceable.

Your friend needs to have her partner speak to the solicitor that dealt with the estate of her father. She should have been advised what was happening with the property when her father died. The issue may cause problems with insurance as she will have no doubt told them she was living in a house that was owned rather than rented.

Your friend needs to take legal advice as soon as possible.