Am I legally obligated to add my husband’s parents to the title of our home if they are living with us and paying half of the bills?

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Am I legally obligated to add my husband’s parents to the title of our home if they are living with us and paying half of the bills?

My in-laws gave my husband and I the money for the down payment on our home. The mortgage and title to the house are in my name alone. They are now living with us, and are paying half of the monthly bills. They are trying to get me to add them to the title of the house, which I won’t do for many reasons. Is there anyway that I would be legally obligated to add them? Can they take our house from us?

Asked on August 11, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

So the money they gave you for the down payment was a gift and they gave you a gift letter for the bank?  To show that it was not a loan (and thus not additional debt owed that would be considered in financing the mortgage)?  If they have just moved in so that you can help them in their older years or just to have a place to live for a while I would consider their time there a tenancy rather than entitlement to ownership. Although it is best to have a written tenancy, month to month tenancies are generally verbal.  You are not legally obligated to add them to the deed or the mortgage (which I would argue go hand in hand).  Can they sue you for the house?  I would say no but if they come up with some novel form of ownership relative to the down payment I would consult a real estate attorney in your area.  Asserting the right after a number of years looks suspicious at best.  Good luck. 


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