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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 23699
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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I have a question about potential eviction of my wife's

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I have a question about potential eviction of my wife's mother from our house. My wife and I bought a house in December 2020 - the plan was for us to share the house with her mother, but relations broke down and we asked her to either apologise for some things she had said or she would have to move out. She said she would rather move out. We had sold our property and her mother sold hers. The new property is entirely owned by me and my wife, with a mortgage - the plan was that we would use proceeds from her mother's sale to pay down the mortgage and use for renovations. At no point has the mother had a formal/legal stake in the property (she said she did not want to be named on the deeds). The only place she is 'named' is on mortgage paperwork that notes she is an 'occupier' and she agrees to move out if the lender needs to repossess. She had transferred money to us to follow the 'original' plan, but she has received all of that money back (in February), on a agreement that she would find a place to live. Since then, she has made little effort to find a place, and refuses to find somewhere to rent whilst she conducts the searches for a place to buy.
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: At this point I am seeking advice on options for actually evicting her, as a more reasonable approach has only got us 4-5 months of highly uncomfortable stasis, and she shows no signs of making the effort to go anywhere Thanks ***** *****
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer about this?
Customer: Not yet, no, I am seeking more information
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: I am not sure about anything else they would need to know....as far as I am aware, she has no legal right (or moral right?) to be living here, having agreed to move out and having got all of her money back. We have no formal arrangements for monthly outgoings - she pays some money towards bills and council tax and other living costs, but she does not pay rent

Hello. Thank you for the question. It is my pleasure to assist you with this today.

Please bear with me as I will be online and off-line from time to time and therefore, may be delayed getting back to you. You will receive an email when I reply.

How long have you been waiting for her to leave?

and are you prepared to give her written notice to leave?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
We agreed in late January that she would move out/find another place to live; she told us that she would need all her money back from her sale (which she had transferred in December), and she received this in mid-Feb. She did make an offer on a place in March, but then withdrew that. At that point she said she would get somewhere to rent, but then did not do that. So, I would say we have been waiting for her to leave since mid-Feb/early March. At that point, we were perfectly willing to accept that if she made an offer and had it accepted that it might take some months to complete. We are now not willing to do this, as she has been delaying and playing games, in our view. (As I say, she also agreed to rent somewhere, but did nothing about this). In terms of 'written notice to leave' - well, I think we are prepared to do this, but I am trying to find out more about what all of this entails!

If I had a pound for every one of these where the parent moves in with the children or vice versa and the whole thing goes pear-shaped, it would pay for my summer holiday.

Of course it gets worse if there has been a substantial financial contribution, by either party, to the property.

Whilst the new property is entirely owned by you and your wife, it would appear that your mother-in-law has made substantial financial contributions to the property and while she may have no legal stake in it she certainly has a financial/beneficial/equitable stake.

That doesn’t necessarily give her the right to live in the property but it does mean that if she wants her money out she can make you sell it unless you have the money to pay her.

However you do say that she transferred money to you following the original plan but received all of that back so if she’s received all of it back, she has no interest whatsoever in the property, legal or financial/beneficial and she actually has no right to live in the property because she is actually no more than a guest.

She doesn’t pay any rent and you could actually lock outs provided you give her all her belongings back.

Because she doesn’t pay any rent and she is simply a guest, then in my opinion she has no right to stay in the property any more than the Milkman, the postman, or the woman next door.

That threat coming from a solicitor, that she will come home one day and find herself locked out is probably going to focus her mind more than if it simply comes from you.

I’m afraid that we are specifically not allowed to take instructions from here.

If the site were to be a source of potential clients, we would no longer be independent because we would have an interest in pursuing litigation.  With no interest in pursuing litigation, we can be really objective with our view is to whether something has a good chance or a limited chance of success.

In any event, for logistical reasons you would be better using a local solicitor .

Thank you for letting me assist you with your legal question.  I am glad that I was able to help.

I am not certain whether that answers the question for you or not, but I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

It will be my pleasure to help you again either further with this or any future questions you have

Kind regards

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Many thanks for that candid reply. My only other question at this point is 'what to expect', in legal/procedural terms if things 'go further'....i.e. if we instruct a solicitor to write the letter to 'focus her mind' and she thinks it's an empty threat and does nothing much more in terms of effort, the next steps would be...? I think I am correct in saying that we would then give her 'notice' (of 28 days?) and then she would have to be out on or before that deadline. If she was not out by then, then....what? We call the police? As I say, just trying to get our heads around the situation. Many thanks

If she thinks it’s an empty threat, and you want to go along with what I have said, she comes home one day and finds her belongings on the doorstep in bin bags the solicitor needs to emphasise that.

She would no doubt claim unlawful eviction and if she decided to take it to court, you would have to defend it and although I can’t guarantee you would succeed, I would be extremely surprised if you didn’t.

It would potentially be different if she had money in the property but you say she has been repaid at all.

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