What to do When a Family Member who Co-Owns Property Refuses to Help Pay for Bills

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“My single brother has lived in our family home all his life. My father left the house to all seven of us kids. The deed has all our names on it. My other brother and his whole family have moved in on him and refuse to help pay the bills because they feel since it is the family home they should get a free ride. Can the rest of us sign our share of the home to our brother so he can tell them to leave and have it be legal?”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

You have several questions bundled up together here:

1. Can you sign your interest in the property over to your brother? Yes, absolutely. However, you should be aware that there may be a tax impact of doing so, whether your brother pays for the interest or not. You should also consult an attorney to be sure that the transfer is done properly, especially in a situation like this where you expect there to be a dispute later.

2. Is it proper for your other brother to live in the property at no cost? No. Like any other property owner, he is responsible for his share of the costs that go along with owning real estate (property taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs, etc.). In a situation like yours, where some owners live in the property and some don’t, it is not unusual for the owners to agree that the one who lives there should shoulder more of this burden, but if he’s living there too, there seems no reason he shouldn’t share the expenses. However, making him do this can be complicated (see below).

3. Can your one brother kick the other one out after you transfer your interests? In a way, yes, though you could do this without transferring the interests, too.

Unfortunately, when parties co-own property, they each have a right to use it, and cannot exclude the other owners from use. However, you can buy him out, have him buy you out, or sell the property and split the proceeds. If your difficult brother refuses to do one of these, there is a legal proceeding known as “partition” which will force the issue.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.

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