Costs of labor and materials on jointly owned house by one owner living there to improve the house for sale

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Costs of labor and materials on jointly owned house by one owner living there to improve the house for sale

My daughter, who is 50/50 co-owner of house, moved me out 2 years ago. She promised they would be selling the house and moving to CO within 6 months. Instead, she and her husband have lived there until the present time, making over $12,000 in improvements. Now she is willing to put the house on the market but wants me to pay for the entire $12,000. I offered to pay her 1/2. Since I didn’t agree to any of the repairs made, I don’t feel I legally owe her any of it. What does the law say?

Asked on April 14, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Arkansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

They do no not have any intrinsic legal right to additional compensation for improvements they voluntarily or unilaterally made. The 50/50 ownership means at base that you and they each get 50% of the proceeds; there was no agreement from you to give them a larger share in exchange for the improvements; and if they lived there for an extra 1 1/2 years or so, gaining the benefit thereof, while you did not live there and gained no corresponding benefit, from even an "equitable," or fairness, point of view, the improvements can be seen as her and her husband's "rent" for getting to live there while the other owner (you) did not. There is thus no basis for her to demand the money. That said, it is probably better to do what you are attempting and try to compromise on an amount, than fight with your family over and possibly hold up the sale, if they will not agree to sell without getting some additional compensation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption