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My brother and I own an inherited house, his son and family has been living there rent-free for 7 years. Brother has been paying the taxes ($12k) and homeowners insurance, and what maintenance has been done. I want to sell, he does not. If it comes to a partition sale, can I claim the 7 years of back rent to off-set what he has paid so we can split the proceeds in half. I would like for them to buy my half but that does not seem likely.

  • Is your brother living in the house with his son and family? Or is it your brother's son and the son's family that is living there? – Raze Feb 18 '15 at 20:43
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This is a potentially legal question. "Can I claim?" - It's a bit late in the game. We're not here to reprimand people for what's past, but to try to offer a solution for now.

You need to go to him and get to the point. You own half of a $600K (am I close?) home and are seeing no return on your equity. You'd like to sell it and get your half, at minimum, but feel that you are entitled to a bit of the lost rent. Half, right? And offset by half the taxes he paid. If the house rents for $2000, you should have seen $12K/yr, less $6K for tax. Or only $6,000/yr. But that adds up over time. And it's only 2% on your locked up $300K.

He can say no. You might have to go to court to force a sale. The court might give you something for the 7 years, or not, it depends on the judge.

For anyone who reads this on inheriting such a house as joint owners, nail the details down at the time you inherit. Else resentment can build up, and things can get ugly.

  • It's apprx $80k small 1944 house their parents lived in. Your last paragraph is spot on - resentment building up and will probably get nasty. Never would have thought it would turn into 7 years of free rent to nephew, his children and his live-in girlfriend. – D Kilmer Feb 18 '15 at 21:31
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    Highly recommend the book "Getting to Yes" for situations like this. Goal is to get to a fair resolution for everyone without getting nasty. Since you can force a partition sale, it's in his interest to work it out, too. Keep mom and dad in mind, they left you the house hoping you'd work it out, right? – Rocky Feb 18 '15 at 21:40
  • Did you mean $80k or $800k? – Raze Feb 18 '15 at 21:42
  • Was the $12K tax per year, or over the 7 years? The emotions don't change, but the numbers do. $80K house isn't quite the same as the $600K house I estimated. – JoeTaxpayer Feb 18 '15 at 23:14
  • House is just $80,000, taxes were $12K over the 7 years. It's never seemed like enough money to fight over until now when I would like to make some improvements to my home as I get older - walk-in shower instead of tub, paying for maintenance for things I can't do myself anymore, etc. – D Kilmer Feb 19 '15 at 22:55

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