My brother, sister, and myself inherited a rental property in Massachusetts. I live in North Carolina and my sister lives in Maine. My brother lives in Massachusetts.. He collects the rent and is taking cash from the rents collected for his own personal use. Can he do that?? What are my options?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Your brother is not permitted to use the rental income from the property for his sole personal benefit. I suggest that you consider filing suit and having a third party--such as a property manager--appointed to collect rents and distribute the net income from the property among the three of you. Depending on how much rent has been diverted by your brother, you might want to consider recovering money damages from him (which could be done within the same lawsuit). Regardless of what you choose to do, you should definitely engage an attorney to represent your interests. For further information go to my web site at www.lawfang.com.
This is a very common situation among co-owners - especially family members - and our Firm has experience dealing with cases like yours. Your brother has no right to divert rental income to himself, although he may be able to make some argument that he is paying himself a reasonable management fee. It may depend on the circumstances, and you definitely don't want it to continue without a form agreement. I think you need to sit down and formalize your ownership structure in the property and have a difficult conversation about who wants to continue to own the property and who would like to take his or her share and invest it elsewhere. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you would like to discuss further. firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-357-4898.