When you inherit a home and become a landlord

Photo: picjumbo.com/Viktor Hanacek

 Q. My dad and his brother lived together in a house that my dad owned. I inherited the house when my dad died, and my dad didn’t leave anything to his brother. I really want to sell the house, but my uncle can’t afford to buy it. What are my options?

A. We hope you and your uncle have a good relationship, and whatever changes you need to make won’t hurt that relationship.

Still, money is money, and we understand that you want to sell the home.

Mary Scrupski, a Robbinsville-based estate planning attorney, said if your uncle is paying rent to live in the house, your options are greater.

“If he is, then you might find be able to find a buyer who would purchase the house from you as an investment and continue to rent it to your uncle,” she said.

If your uncle isn’t paying rent, you might not have any choice but to ask your uncle to move out of the house so that it can be sold.

“This is a difficult situation to be in. If he refuses to move out, then you might have to go to court to have him evicted, which is probably not something you want to do,” Scrupski said. ” Legally the house is yours. Unless your uncle is paying you rent, the situation is very one-sided. You have all of the responsibilities of home ownership and none of the benefits.”

Those responsibilities are the same as your dad had when he was alive.

Your uncle is effectively your tenant, said Frederick Schoenbrodt, an estate planning attorney with Drinker Biddle & Reath in Florham Park.

“If you wish to remove him from the home so that you may sell it, you can request that he leave or, if he refuses, have him removed from the home via a legal proceeding,” Schoenbrodt said. “If you would like him to have the home, you can sell it to him on favorable terms or simply give it to him.”

Schoenbrodt said you may also combine the approaches and sell it to him for a bargain price – which is sometimes referred to as a “part sale/part gift transaction.”

Whatever you choose, we understand the challenge when you mix money and family. We hope your uncle is a reasonable guy.

Email your questions to moc.p1600712382leHye1600712382noMJN1600712382@ksA1600712382.

This story was first posted in November 2014.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.