This is in Georgia, USA

So a father bought a house, all paid for, then transferred it to his son and daughter, taking his name off completely. They all three lived in house. The sister gets married and moves out of state. Few years later, the father dies. The brother is still living there.

The question is, since she is still technically half owner, and the brother has no intentions of moving out, shouldn't he pay the sister something? Can he be sued if he refuses?


4 Answers 4


The brother is under no obligation to buy, the sister is under no obligation to sell.

As co-owners they each enjoy the right to use the property; that the sister chooses not to does not change the brother's right.

If the property is owned as tenants in common (the most likely arrangement), the sister can sell or lease her share to whoever she likes without the brother's consent. She could even extend an invitation to an outlaw motor cycle gang to be house guests.

If it is a joint tenancy, there is no sister's "share"; the siblings own the whole property as an indivisible whole. In that case both must agree to any dealings.

  • If it is a joint tenancy, can the sister evict the brother because he is living there without her agreement? Or would the brother have to agree to the eviction? In either case, can the sister do anything that would make the brother's life there uncomfortable, and offer either to sell out or to stop doing it if he pays rent?
    – phoog
    Nov 21, 2015 at 3:20
  • @phoog Do you pay somebody rent to live in your house? I don't pay rent to live in mine.
    – Patrick87
    Nov 21, 2015 at 14:17
  • @Patrick87 ok, and your point is?
    – phoog
    Nov 21, 2015 at 14:33
  • @phoog You suggest the brother should pay rent to live in his house - or that's how I read your comment?
    – Patrick87
    Nov 21, 2015 at 20:12
  • @Patrick87 I'm saying that if the sister wants to get some money out of the brother because he is enjoying sole use of a jointly owned property, she might be able to find some way of "encouraging" him to pay her. One word that might be applied to such payments would be "rent," even though the payments would not be rent in a strict legal sense.
    – phoog
    Nov 22, 2015 at 4:27

Not a lawyer, not your lawyer, but sometimes I watch Judge Judy.

I don't see why the brother should be forced to buy out the sister's half of the property. He is an owner of the property and is entitled to the rights of ownership, including the right to enjoy its use. The sister is entitled to the same rights. These rights do not include either depriving the other of his or her rights.

The sister has two options, in my mind: exercise her rights of ownership that don't require her brother's consent, or make a deal with the brother to do something more.

Certainly the sister can move back in and the brother can't prevent her from enjoying her share. The sister might even be able to rent or sell her share, depending on the kind of tenancy. If the brother lives there, the sister may need the brother's consent in the choice of lessee.

The sister can also try to strike a deal with the brother. Perhaps she could sell the brother her share, or buy the brother's share. The sister's rights here are those she would have negotiating to get a used car from a stranger after seeing an ad on Craigslist.


This is a sticky wicket! Assuming that the OP is the spouse of the sister here...just devil's advocacy.

I can come up with no reason that the "brother" should be liable to pay anyone. Ownership in a property entitles one to "rents", but doesn't entitle rents themselves. It appears that the only recourse is for the sister to invoke some kind of sale in total...which seems doomed to fail.


If the brother does not want to move out or buy his sister's share, she is entitled to collect rent from the brother. They should share expenses equally.

  • While your answer sounds sensible, this is not actually what the law says in this situation. Please refrain from providing an answer unless you have an authoritative source for your answer or personal knowledge from legal practice or scholarship of the answer.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 3, 2018 at 4:39
  • She can't demand rent. She can say very politely "it would really be nice if you paid rent. If you don't, I'll move in here and bring my biker gang friends with me. They are a bit rough, but you will get used to it".
    – gnasher729
    Aug 19, 2022 at 1:18

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