My brother is trying to force me into giving him a tenancy – Help!

My brother is trying to force me into giving him a tenancy – Help!

11:20 AM, 7th December 2014, About 7 years ago 22

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I am not actually a landlord, but I own my mother’s house. She is 85 years old, and my brother and his wife moved in a year ago to care for her. There is no formal agreement, or tenancy of any kind. My brother is trying to force me into giving him a tenancy

I offered my brother and his wife a year rent-free as they were in financial difficulties, and about to be evicted for rent arrears to a housing association. I was due to give them the benefit of an AST, but with a token rent, from October 2014. When I reminded him of the agreement, he insisted that I promised never to charge him rent, in “payment” for care duties, and this caused a rift within the family by saying untrue things about me to my mother, frightening her.

They have now formed a unit, and are urging the family to take sides. My brother has set up a standing order to me for £100 (“rent”) a month. He believes that this gives him the rights I promised him before the split, quoting a Facebook set of messages in which I made the offer, as a legally binding agreement. I have written to him twice, and returned cheques for the amount, asking him to cancel the standing order. He refuses. The bank advise me that this cannot be stopped by them, and suggested I involve the Police. I would rather not do this, for obvious reasons.

My solicitor tells me, in an informal chat, that they are “licencees” only, as I own the house outright, and have never charged rent. My brother says my earlier offer of tenancy is binding, and gives him “rights”.

I do not wish to evict him while my mother is alive, but wish to sell the house when she dies. I have not told him of this, but I think he suspects it.

My brother is 52, his wife is 53. He is in poor health, and has not worked for 25 years (by his choice), so has no entitlements to benefits. His wife works 15 hours a week, but is in poor health too. He has a history of rent arrears, so I think they would find it difficult to get alternative accommodation, and I feel that this is the reason he is demanding “rights” from me, as if evicted under an AST he believes he would be eligible for council accommodation. I do not think he would qualify, and fear he might then be entitled to remain in the house.

I am not sure what the legal position is with regard to the promises of a tenancy I made before we fell out.

Help!!!

Thanks in advance for any suggestions

Regards

Catherine D



Comments

by Catherine D'Agneau

11:58 AM, 9th December 2014, About 7 years ago

Thank you ABAB, for your advice and input. I've listened to everyone's comments and advice, and it is likely I will go down the route of giving the family the tenancy, using a letting agent as recommended. I am holding fire for the immediate moment because I have heard through other family members that sister-in-law has just had surgery for cancer,(apparently it "went well"), so at this time I feel it would be insensitive of me to start flexing any kind of muscle at them. Meanwhile I will be discussing with my solicitor the best options. A compromise does seem the best solution, I have now learned that sentiment has no place in these matters! I will post the outcome and resolution when the time comes. Thank you (all) once again for your kind support and help.

by All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

12:09 PM, 9th December 2014, About 7 years ago

i hope you all have a peaceful Christmas.. I think if you wanted to give you mum (and you) peace of mind it might be kind to tell them your plans before xmas so everyhone can relax a bit ... you sound like a caring person

good luck

by Catherine D'Agneau

0:21 AM, 13th December 2014, About 7 years ago

Here is my update...

I've heard from my solicitor, he thinks that it is unlikely that a contract has been created by my Facebook messenger chats. He is uncertain as to whether a tenancy can be in force with just one member of a shared household in any case, and there are many legal uncertainties. If there were a contract, it would be an AST, and could be terminated in due course. The Facebook messages were on 30th September 2014, so the six month period would end on 31st March 2015.

All of your advice has been sound. I have decided I will offer them all a periodic AST from 1st April at a reasonable rent, probably a bit less than the market rent, (hopefully without having to issue an S21!). This seems to be the best way forward, as I have no wish to evict them summarily and cause the situation to deteriorate further. I will be looking to end their tenancy when my mother is no longer with us. My solicitor is now under instruction, and I will be discussing all this with him early next year. Unfortunately I cannot contact them to tell them of my plans, as I received an e-mail from my brother ordering me not to contact him ever again in any manner! It was a passage of purple prose, I think he is having some kind of mental aberration! However, leaving things as they are for the time being may calm him down if he thinks he has "won" in some way, and I don't wish to inflame him at further at this moment. What an exercise in patience for me....

Once again, thank you all for the help, advice, and support, I feel much better than I did at the start, my head is now straight. It looks like I'm going to be a landlord after all. I may be needing to bend your ears again in the future!

I hope you all have a peaceful and joyous Christmas, I am now looking forward to mine thanks to you guys. Blessings to all.

by Puzzler

12:39 PM, 13th December 2014, About 7 years ago

This is a very interesting situation. Families can be very problematic. I would like to know how you came to own the house, did you buy it for your mother to live in? Also you say that your brother was objecting to the AST you proposed to introduce in October as he doesn't want to pay rent but is now demanding one so that he will have a better chance of council housing?

Either way I don't see he can prevent you from selling provided you give him notice to leave.

However, without knowing you it sounds like that is not really what you want. I get the impression you don't want to make your brother homeless but would like him to sort himself out.

First, leopards don't change their spots so he is unlikely to reform money-wise. But your brother is taking quite a lot of pressure from you by being with your mother even if it's not constant physical care.

You don't appear to need the money, you appear to care for your brother. Could you get a family friend to mediate? While your mother is alive there is no issue to resolve so try to patch up with him, he probably feels very scared and vulnerable (especially if you're the "successful" sibling). I hope you achieve a happy outcome.

I have been in a similar place and in the end (after many decades of resentment) I have decided that the family is more important than everyone paying their "fair" share, as we're not all equal in that respect.

by Catherine D'Agneau

14:10 PM, 13th December 2014, About 7 years ago

Hello Puzzler
I did buy the house for cash, for my mother and father 15 years ago, under their right to buy as council tenants. The house was for them to live in rent-free, and to be used as collateral should either of them need to go into a care home. It was in a deed of trust for me. My father died five years ago, and mother conveyanced the house to me three years ago, in the mistaken belief that I could raise an equity release on the property in order to provide my brother with some cash to help him get out of debt. (Of course, this was turned out to be impossible as I do not live there!). The original plan was that once both parents were deceased the house would remain in the family (we were all brought up there), as an asset should anyone need a place to rent cheaply. It was never my intention to sell it. When my brother decided to move in there I offered him a year rent-free for him to sort out his finances and get stable again, and we agreed he would pay me a small rent, after that time, without an official contract, this was to be put into a savings account in his name, to cover repairs. At the end of each year, whatever was not used would be split between us, and we would start again. Everyone was pleased with this arrangement, and at my last visit there in July all seemed well.
In September my daughter and her husband were given notice to quit their rented property and had to find another by November. They did, but at a much higher rent (We live in the south-east, very expensive!). She intended to go back to full-time work in January (she was working 4 days a week), and I offered to help them out with the extra £400 a month rent until January. In a normal Facebook chat session with my brother I reminded him of the arrangement, and asked if he could pay the money direct to me from October to January, instead of putting into the account. No amount mentioned, I just said whatever he was planning to pay anyway, however small, and I explained why.
I have no idea why he reacted the way he did! He insisted he was to live there rent-free until my mother died, and accused me of lying and deceiving him into moving in there. On reminding him of his promises in July he became hysterical, furiously angry with me, and very hostile. He picked the amount of £250 a month, insisting that he would pay me this by standing order, and that I was to give him a contract. In order to mollify him and maintain harmony I agreed he could live there rent-free while he was caring for mother. He argued back and insisted on a contract. I promised him a contract, and said the rent would be £100 a month, and I would accept no more than that. He agreed, and then terminated our relationship, saying he would never forgive me, didn't want my friendship, and I was not to contact him again.
That is the bones of the whole matter! He then went on to "defriend" me on Facebook, along with my husband, our son, daughter, and son-in-law. This is only important because we live 200 miles away from the family, and have always used Facebook to keep in touch. My mother then did the same, and sent me a hateful letter telling me all of the things I'm supposed to have said and done to them (all untrue). She ended the letter by telling me she would never forgive me, and wanted no more contact!.
I wrote to both of them to explain things, and asked if we could talk it through. I received an e-mail from my brother, again extremely hostile, telling me any further communication would go unread or be deleted unread. He told me I could only speak to my mother by phone through him.
So that is the situation at the moment. I never wanted to evict my brother, you are right in that I only wish he would sort himself out and grow up a bit (he is 52!). He does appear to feel vulnerable and even frightened, but he is taking a very hard line with me and will not allow any discussion.
There are, sadly, no family friends. My brother does not "do" friends. My mother likewise. They are both quite antisocial people! I have two sisters, both of whom would like to help, but we all know that any input from them would be seen as interference, and taking "sides", and they would likely be cut off too.
**Sigh** So now you know the whole story.
Your comment about "successful" siblings is so very apt, my brother has always been very envious of my position as eldest, (he is the youngest, and the only male), and feels the whole power balance is wrong with my owning our parents' home. He calls himself the head of the family (the "silverback", as he likes to remind us). However, that is an ape! (So probably quite apt too!)
Sorry for this long-winded post, but you did ask......
Thank you for your suggestions and your interest. I will post the outcome in the future. I hope you have a peaceful Christmas.

by Dr Rosalind Beck

14:14 PM, 13th December 2014, About 7 years ago

Hi Catherine.
Just one word of advice: I would ask Mark to get rid of all mention of your surname on this thread (if it is your actual surname), in case someone who knows your brother et al, tells them about it, or in case he does a google search on your name at any point...
All the best with this.

by Mark Alexander

14:58 PM, 13th December 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rosalind " at "13/12/2014 - 14:14":

Hi Rosalind

I have not published Catherine's last name, but anybody can change their screen name at any time
.

by Dr Rosalind Beck

15:57 PM, 13th December 2014, About 7 years ago

Hi Mark.
She needs to change it then, because I can see it above every post she makes.

by Catherine D'Agneau

18:44 PM, 13th December 2014, About 7 years ago

Thanks Rosalind for your advice, D'Agneau isn't my real name, it's just a word that means something to me. I don't post my real name, but I always forget my other usernames on websites!!!! Aww, you guys are all so caring, thanks x

by Neil Robb

13:44 PM, 14th December 2014, About 7 years ago

Hi Catherine

I have been there on a family issue myself so I do understand where you are with this. Your family seem to be taking the hand.

My gut feeling is they are taking the hand out of you and the situation and I would imagine they are not telling you the truth about there financial situation.

I am amazed they are not entitled to benefits including housing benefit and council tax. I have met people like this before who know exactly what they are doing. But will not tell you the truth. They will claim they have nothing and are claiming everything.

My understanding is that if you are on low income your are entitled to housing benefit and help with council tax. I have enough tenants receiving this to know there is benefits for this.

You say your brother is in poor health so why does he not get sick benefit or DLA if he is so bad. I would say he is getting this.

Again his wife has health issues and works 15 hours will she not qualifies for working tax credit and help with housing benefit council tax. You said you thought she has had an operation for cancer again with the correct help may be entitled to DLA as well.

They claim to be your mother carers again another allowance they are entitled to I would not be surprised If they are claiming all around them but wont say. As they do not want you to know they are milking the system to the max.

Liverpool are trying to bring in Licensing for landlords at £500.00 per property in the near future.

My other concern is you say the are looking after you mother are they dealing with her finances. I would have strong concern over this. I have been there and not wanting to create an argument said nothing. While they implied another family member was helping themselves. Well when they took over the account there was thousands in the bank plus more money coming in each month. By the time they moved there was nothing left in the account. But when the control of money went back to the other family member within ten months there was £4000.00 back in the account.

Without going into my situation I can assure you most people will say I was a mug for believing what they say, but I was lucky and could afford to cover what was happening. And the family feud is all my fault and they are the innocent party. What I will say is I never lied to them as they did to me and the truth came out and they still wont accept what they said and did was dishonest.


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