How to Handle a Difficult Apartment Tenant

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“I own a house with three of my brothers – it was written over to us from an uncle approximately 10 years ago. The house is a two family house. One brother lives in one apartment and the other apartment is where our mother lives. We made an oral agreement with the brother, lets call him John, that he would pay a discounted rent to take care of the property as well as take care of our mother. John has not paid rent in three years and has not taken any of the responsibility with our mother. This situation is putting a huge stress on my mother and since she is elderly and frail I believe it will harm her if we cannot resolve this issue. No one wants to contribute their own funds to the house, and I worry that all will be lost.

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John has broken off all communications, and we cannot even sit to discuss possible resolutions. He will not admit real estate professionals into his apartment and that would make selling the home impossible. Is there a possible way to evict him, buy him out, etc?

I do not want to make this an unfair decision, and am not looking to get the money he owes back. I do believe that because he is the only person who does not own another residence, that he feels he should get this house solely for himself.

Please help,

In distress”

The type of lawsuit you are looking at is called Partition. It is the legal process for co-owners to become disentangled from each other. It’s a fairly technical suit, so I wouldn’t suggest trying to proceed without an attorney, but the good news is that these suits almost always settle, because everyone knows that the court will make you sell the place if you don’t sit down and negotiate.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.

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