My father passed away passed 7 years ago and my siblings have been living in the house since. The house is mortgage free and it has been equally inherited by all the children. I recently lost my job and have moved back into the house, but my sibling is threatening to kick me out of the house and remove my claim to the house due to me not paying any bills related to the house over the years. Is this actually possible? What can I do in this situation?

  • Why haven't you paid any bills? Does this include taxes? Was there a monetary inheritance meant to cover that? – Ron Beyer Jun 20 '20 at 22:45

In the US and probably most if not all common law jurisdictions, this means that all of the siblings enjoy equal rights to the property. There are different kinds of ownerships, including tenancy in common and joint ownership. Whatever the case may be, one or more of the co-owners cannot confiscate your property, so they cannot remove your claim. They also cannot kick you out. The only legal way to remove you is via a court process where, after a court order, the sheriff tosses you into the street. It would be a crime (literally) for them to physically remove you themselves.

They could sue you for your share of the "bills", depending on what those bills are. For example, as a co-owner, you have an obligation to pay a portion of the property taxes, even if you don't live there. You do not have an obligation to pay a portion of the cable bill if you don't live there. You would be liable for a share of necessary repairs, but not unnecessary fancying-up. You would also be entitled to a share of any rent received, if they had been renting out a part of the house. Since you do in fact owe a share of the taxes and repairs, it is counterproductive to say "Oh yeah? Sue me!".

  • 1
    it’s not clear that they would owe anything. Tenants in common are jointly liable for outgoings but that means they have to resolve among themselves who pays for what - it doesn’t automatically mean they pay equally. A court would inquire as to why the OP is being asked to pay now for liabilities from 7 years ago. – Dale M Jun 21 '20 at 0:06

Was the house empty all the time? Or did your sibling live there? Rent free, I assume? If your sibling lived there, paying the bills but no rent, then in reality he was sponging off you all the time. Morally, you would have the right to get half of the difference between fair rent value and bills paid, legally you have no right.

If the house stood empty (which I think is unlikely) then your sibling has the moral right to ask you for half the bills, but no legal right. If the house was rented out, then someone paid rent, and you should have received half the difference between rent and bills.

If you own part of the house, and there is no rental contract, then you have absolutely the right to move in. You own part of it. You should pay part of the bills, but then if your sibling uses more of the house, they should pay rent for that. So if the sibling tries to throw you out, they have absolutely no right to. If they do throw you out, that's criminal. Call the police. They will get you back in, explain to your sibling that they are in the wrong if they are lucky, arrest them if they are less lucky.

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