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Do I have to pay rent to my family, if I'm entitled to one/third of the property that I'm tending and currently living in?

Country Club Hills, IL |

My mother willed and land trusted her real estate to my two sisters and I. One of my sisters passed leaving her heirs to her one/ third. My other sister fell ill leaving me to have to tend to the house and it's upkeep. I currently live there paying the taxes and utilities from my own pocket. None of them have contributed or assisted thus far or even thought about the property until now. I was told that I may now have to pay my nephew and my ill sister who is now in a nursing home.

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Attorney answers 3


Does the person living in the house need to pay rent? Your question is one that causes family debates whenever it occurs - and that is quite often. The usual answer is the person living in the house needs to equitably pay for the cost of keeping the house going. Sometimes that is simply by paying for utilities, cutting the grass, etc. Other times that is not sufficient and rent must be paid just like one would expect from a tenant.

With that said, you situation is more complicated than just that issue. You need an attorney to review all of the documents and give you advice on how to proceed.

Good Luck!

Legal Disclaimer: Paul A. Smolinski is licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois only, and as such, his answers to AVVO inquiries are based on his understanding of Illinois law only. His answers are for general information about perceived legal issues within this question only and no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to extend any right of confidentiality between you and Mr. Smolinski, to constitute legal advice, or create an attorney/client or other contractual relationship. An attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement including an evaluation of the specific legal problem and review of all the facts and documents at issue. We try to insure the accuracy of this information, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. The reader should never assume that this information applies to his or her specific situation or constitutes legal advice. Therefore, please consult competent counsel that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction and who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances.


You have kind of a mess. Your options include 1) paying rent, in addition to the expenses you have paid, 2) having your siblings move in and share in all of the expenses, 3) buy out your siblings' shares of the property, 4) coming to some other arrangement.

It is unclear what has changed that is causing your relatives to now come to you, looking for money. As joint owners, they are entitled to occupy the property, the same as you. They are entitled to a share of any rents from the property, as are you. They are also obligated to pay the expenses associated with the property.

It is probably best if you can buy out your siblings' interests and settle this for once and for all. But it is not clear if you have the resources to do this.

It is also not clear whether or not you need an attorney, because you do not say what recently changed. If one of your relatives is threatening legal action, then it would be a good idea to meet with a lawyer to see what your options are.

James Frederick

*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.


The fair way to proceed would be to compute a fair rent and subtract the amount by 1/3(your ownership) and also subtract 2/3's of the expenses you paid on behalf of the estate.

The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.

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