The ordinary agency to collect rents usually includes authority to rent, to receive rent money and receipt therefor in the name of the landlord; also to allow deductions from the rent for cost of minor repairs, janitor service, etc., but does not include authority to execute a lease unless such authority is expressly conferred. The extent of the agent's power is usually agreed upon, or otherwise is established by the acts of the agent ratified by the principal. A renting agent is not liable for failure to rent property in the absence of proof that he could with reasonable diligence have rented it to any person who could, or would, have paid any rent therefor.14 Where the meaning of the agreement is uncertain, proof of custom is admissible to show that a renting agent is responsible for the care of the property while vacant, under an agreement to take " care " of the property for a commission on collections.15
An agent to rent premises and collect rent, where the lease is for a term of more than one year and under seal, has no implied power to consent to the substitution of a new tenant.16 And an agent in regard to the collection of rent and the ordinary repairs that a real estate agent makes in behalf of the owner has no power to agree to pay for, or even to authorize, extensive improvements, such, for instance, as the removal of partitions for the purpose of changing a number of small rooms into larger rooms and painting and plastering these rooms.17 "An agent authorized to receive payment can receive it in money only. Ordinarily he can receive it when it becomes due and not before. He cannot commute the debt for another thing. He cannot compound the debt, or release it on composition, or submit it to arbitration."18 An agent authorized to collect rents is not to be presumed to have authority to receive rents before they are due, and such prepayment does not discharge the tenant unless the landlord ratifies the payment or receives the money paid.19
14 Burpe v. Van Eman. 11 Minn. 327 (1866). 15 Cameron v. Real Est. Co.. 76 Mo. App. 366 (1898). 16 Wallace v. Dinnlny. 11 Misc. 317 (N. Y. 1895). 17 Garber v. Splvak, 65 Misc. 37 (N. Y. 1909).
The power of an agent to collect and receive payment of rents, when such power is not coupled with an interest, terminates and ceases upon the death of the principal. Payment made to the agent after the principal's death does not bind the estate of the principal though the payment be made in ignorance of the principal's death, unless perhaps where the agent has accounted for same to the estate.
"The rule seems to have originated in the presumption that those who deal with an agent knowingly assume the risk that his authority may be terminated by death without notice to them. The case of an agency coupled with an interest is made an exception to the rule." It is possible, however, to so word a lease that the personal representatives or the estate of the principal may be estopped from recovering money paid to his agent in good faith after his death.20