Of course the owner or lease holder of the house can ask you to move out or pay rent.
No, she cannot force you to pay for past rent since you were there with permission without a promise to pay. However, if she no longer wants to be so generous, you need to move. It's not your house.
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Yes, she can ask that you pay rent and have the rent payments start now. I would get something in writing from her. No, she can not charge you for any past months, because she allowed you to stay there rent-free for those months and they were a gift.
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Perhaps if you and your wife were to consider marital counseling and attempt to resolve the marital problems, your mother in law would reconsider. It sounds like she has had enough of the strife and is exerting herself in the manner in which she can do so. You cannot force her to accept you as a non-paying tenant in her home. If you do stay, try to get an agreement in writing.
Yes she can ask you to pay future rent or move out. However she is not entitled to past rent since that was not required in the past.
All written responses are for general informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice. Please consult an attorney for legal advice
Your wife’s mother is your landlord and you are her holdover tenant. She can evict you, but she has little chance to enforce claims for past rent, without either (1) proof that there was a written rental agreement or (2) proof you previously paid rent and expenses to document a verbal agreement. On the other hand, she still gets to evict you. Resisting eviction is expensive, and offers only a short delay for the inevitable.
If things don't settle down, it is time to leave your mother-in-law's home. If your wife does not also move out, your marriage may be over. While a divorce involving no children and few assets can be done without an attorney, your use of an attorney will avoid serious pitfalls. If you do have children or assets, you do need an attorney, even before you move out. With both children and assets, your departure from the home without temporary resolutions can prejudice the situation against you.
This answer is given in an open forum and is specifically NOT intended to create an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship can only be created by a direct or telephonic meeting with this attorney.
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