Uncle lives in in laws house

My husband’s uncle lived with my in laws before they passed away. They helped support him, gave him a job in their company and he helped around the house. After my mother in law died, my father in law re-wrote their will to be sure the uncle could continue to live in the house. He passed away 8 years ago. The house now belongs to my husband and his sister. They are response for all major upkeep, the taxes and pay rental insurance. The uncle continues to live there and pays for utilities and minor upkeep. He only is in contact with us when he needs something and frankly doesn’t recognize that we have already spent over $36,000 so that he can continue to live there. We both have children in college and private school and simply cannot continue to do this. But the will says he can continue to live there until he dies (currently he’s 75). He also received $50,000 and their vehicle upon their death and each child received $20,000 which we’ve had to spend on the house. I want to be generous and continue but it sure would be easier if he was at least grateful. He gets angry when we try to bring up the subject. He even has a renter paying him money, not us. Any thoughts?

My thoughts are that your in laws left a house with specific direction. The uncle needs to live there.

However, I don’t know about the renter. If it were me, I would go to my lawyer and ask if he is allowed to do that. Make the uncle sign a lease to live there and have everything spelled out. Specify what you are willing to pay for (exterior upkeep etc.) and what he is responsible for. (Clogged sinks, carpet cleaning, whatever you decide.)

As he is not the owner of the house, he should not be able to just bring in a renter. If you are willing to allow it, they should have to sign a lease as well, and pay rent to you. There may be legal ramifications of renter living in your house as far as insurance, and God forbid damages your property.

You really will need to talk to a lawyer. Also, you need to learn what a landlord can and cannot do legally. Even if he pays no rent, you may be considered a landlord. And you will need to follow any lead paint laws if your state has them.

It’s a lot of work, yes. But you should do things by law to avoid any problems. Tell him he must sign a lease to live there. If he refuses, tell him he should look for a new home. Most likely, you should be able to work something out.

(I am not giving legal advice. I am giving you my experience of having a family member live in a home we own. )


Well that is a good thing, he is taking responsibility for some of the costs.

Did you both have a friendship prior to obtaining the house in the will? If not then I would not expect him to be overly involved in maintaining contact. The amount that you have spent on the house, has it been around general house upkeep ie roofing, painting. It seems that if this is the case then the house maintenance was not kept up in the latter years when your father in-law was alive. This is not your husbands uncles fault, though it is quite common to see in the elderly where home maintenance starts to slid a little. If the uncle wasn’t living there, you would have mostly likely needed to spend this amount prior to selling the house.

He is probably feeling very insecure at the moment, a home that he has lived in for a very long time and was assured that he would remain there to his death is now uncertain. At 75 years of age it would be difficult for him to relocate and this is most likely why he gets angry and defensive. If you plan to have him remain in the house, then it would be best to let him know that you will not be sending him on his way. This may settle his anxieties down and allow him to be more amenable toward you.

I do hope that what you have spent in the upkeep and maintenance of the home initially will not continue on at such a high amount. I do see your point of view, it is a lot of money that you have spent at the start and inheriting a home already occupied is tricky to say the least. I wish you well in this, not an easy inheritance to deal with.

I really appreciate the quick feedback. The money we’ve spent is on taxes and the rental insurance we have. $3300 annually for taxes and $2000 annually for insurance so that will continue, and we’ll have to take out a loan to continue to pay this every year. We split this with the sibling, so each of us pay half annually. We’ve only had to do a little house upkeep costs so far, but it is a 50 year old house.

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Oh gosh, that is a lot of money to pay out yearly in insurance and taxes. I thought most of the money was being spent in house maintenance. Is it possible for your husbands uncle to live with you or the sister? Or either you and your husband or sister, moving into the inherited home?

I don’t understand the legal issues, but can’t you just sell the home?

My mother already lives with us and I don’t think it would be a good fit with sister. He wouldn’t agree anyway. I guess I feel very put upon but I want to have a good Christian attitude. It really feels good just to share this experience and to get others perspective, and to try to think from his perspective. I am sure my in laws didn’t expect us to have to go into further debt, and he does have good friends that would take him in, but he likes the independence of the house. It’s just so costly. His attitude is of entitlement which is really hard to deal with. He has some trade expertise that could be very helpful to us in some simple ways but he ignores our very reasonable request. So again, just hard to not get mad about it. Well, thanks again and I will pray about what we can do or consider.

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Have you sought out a lawyer? I think dying wishes should be respected but I would find it hard to believe a will can dictate that you go into debt or spend money.


If I understand correctly, the uncle live in the house rent free but has someone else inside this same house who pay him a rent?

I don’t know the legal aspects. But it would seems fair to me that he could be allowed to live under this house (as it’s in the will and he is an old man now) but with paying a rent to cover your expenses. It’s not necessary to create a high rate, but something to make him feel responsible of his housing and make him understand that he was beholden to your family for years.

It may make him angry toward you, but you have to decide if you want to just continue to be frustrated and angry with the situation and him.

It may be benefical if you entertain the familial relationship and not just be there when he asks for something. If he don’t make a moove, you may invite him and visit him (don’t wait for him to invite you) if you live in a close area, call and write letters for Christmas etc.

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The OP’s husbands uncle lives alone in the home. No renter involved.

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No, he does have a renter, and he keeps the money. Read the second to last sentence of the OP.


Second sentence does not state that that the uncle has a renter. I have re-read all of the OP posts and there is nothing that mentions that the uncle has another person living in the house.

I said read the second to last sentence. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks for showing me, didn’t see that!

Moi needs glasses! :nerd_face:

Well that does change perspective on the situation at hand. Very tricky place to be.


It seems to me fair that those burdens be covered by him paying a rent…

Does someone who is living in a place rent-free can charge himself renter for a part of this same place?
Is the agreement of the owner is need? Have you give it?

Or maybe choose between charging the uncle with a small rent or to ask the other rent be paid to the owner…

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As a non-lawyer, I think it reasonable for at least part of the rent to go to the owners who are responsible as landlords to the tenant and for the tenant (if the tenant is injured in the house or if he leaves some damage).

Additionally, a provision must be made for what the tenant will do when the uncle dies. Some states are tough on this so the local landlord-tenant commission needs to be consulted, if not a good lawyer.

As to just the situation with the uncle, remember that when the uncle dies, your husband and sister will be able to sell the house and (hopefully) make a profit, even considering what they have paid out, which unfortunately seems to have been the entirety of the cash inheritance.

In fact, who pays for the house seems not to have been covered in the will? In which case, a good lawyer should be consulted, and if the house is declining in value, ask the lawyer if an arrangement can be made whereby the house could be sold and provision made for the uncle to live in a condo or something, which could then be sold when he dies.

You should probably also consult an elder-care lawyer (again, a good one!) to see the options for your uncle when he is unable to care for himself.

Ger recommendations from people for lawyers. Some can be very ignorant (learned from experience) and they can write that the specialize in something with no oversight (at least in some states).


When I read this post, the thing that occurs to me is this: Did the will specify that he could continue to live there rent free or did it only say he could live there?


Is your uncle on the deed to the house or are just your husband and his sister?

You need to consult a lawyer. If your in-laws did not include in their estate a trust to pay the taxes, insurance and maintenance on their home so uncle could live there that request sounds unreasonable to me. You have children. Your responsibilities are to your spouse, your children, then extended family, of which an uncle would be on the periphery.

Uncle needs to pay rent or move out. That is not unchristian. If your in laws wanted to financially provide for him while living that is fine, but they can’t insist you do so after their death.

Wills only go so far. If you are the legal owner of the house my bet is you can do what you want.

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I had that same thought. Yes, allow him to live there, but he needs to pay something.

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