I live in a house owned 50/50 by a brother and sister. The sister has moved out so it's just myself and her brother and she has asked me to pay rent just to her and her brother to receive nothing as he is still living in the house. Is this legal?

  • Legality of these practices may depend on your country of residence. What country do you live in? Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 6:33
  • And are the siblings in a feud? :) Why did the sister leave the house? Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 7:19
  • Sister left the house as moved in with boyfriend @rody oldenhuis Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 12:15
  • Ah. Well, aside from it being legal or not, do you feel it's unreasonable? I mean, they have to pay the mortgage too, and if I understand correctly, you're just paying your fair share. Or do you suspect your share is larger than their monthly mortgage payment? Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 12:44
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    Whom did you give the money to before she moved out? Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 12:57

2 Answers 2


There are two possibilities here. One is that the brother and sister have done a deal where the brother gets to live in the house rent free (because he owns part of it - essentially he's paying rent to himself) and the sister gets your rent paid to her as income (for owning a house she doesn't live in). That's pretty normal and makes a lot of sense. The second possibility is that there is some kind of argument going on between the brother and sister.

It's easy to discover which. Go to the brother and say "your sister asked me to pay all the rent to her - is this OK with you?". If he says "yes" it's the first case. Relax and enjoy the new space in your house, and pay the rent to the sister. If he says "No, what the hell?" then it's the second case. Start looking for a new place immediately, and in the meantime pay the rent exactly as you were doing before.

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    +1 - It would be helpful to not make assumptions in this case. While you are talking to them about it, how about getting a lease agreement signed? Nothing fancy, just layout the terms of who gets how much money when in exchange for what and where.
    – MrChrister
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 13:55
  • Being shared accomodation in Australia, there is no standard lease available from Fair Trading (in NSW anyway), you would however need to talk to both parties and have an agreement of where the rent is to be paid put in writing and signed by all parties.
    – Victor
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 4:33
  • If brother says yes, you should get that in writing.
    – Mołot
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 14:06

You're in big trouble here. Do you have a signed lease? If so - act as agreed in the lease. If you don't have a signed lease - then you should move out ASAP or get one. Otherwise, you'll find yourself in a cross-fire between the arguing siblings.

Legal? Laws of men have nothing to do with it. Its the laws of nature. When family is in a feud - get as far as you can.

If you can talk to the brother and get him agree to the arrangement, you might get out of the situation unharmed.

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    The OP didn't mention anything about a feud... Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 6:32
  • True, but it certainly sounds like one.
    – littleadv
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 6:53
  • No feud, she is just a stronger person than he is and he normally just gives in to her. I should have signed a lease agreement you learn in hindsight but it's very close friends so thought would be ok. We live in Australia Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 10:24
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    @Rebeccashady Feud might not be the right word, but you're in the middle of a complicated family situation all the same. If you don't have a lease I would strongly suggest seeking other lodgings.
    – C. Ross
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 12:55
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    I think you are jumping to conclusions about the feud. I can think of at least one plausible explanation that doesn't involve a feud. Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 14:26

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