When you live in a home owned by a family member, transferring the home title from owner to tenant can be complicated. Just because you’ve been living in a home for an extended period of time and paying the expenses (as in this case), that doesn’t make you the homeowner.
Q: How do we get the title of the home we live in to transfer to us? My grandma and grandpa are the owners of our home but it’s been my mom and us (her two kids) living here, paying the real estate taxes and expenses on the property for over 25 years. How would we get title transferred into our name so we can homestead or even sell because no one else cares about the property or even attempts to help us with the taxes?
A: The home is owned by your grandfather and grandmother. It is their home. They own it. You’ve been living in the home for 25 years but that doesn’t make the home yours or even give you the right to own the home.
You’ve been able to use the property for 25 years, but there is no way to transfer the home’s title into your name without your grandparents’ permission. As owners, your grandparents have the right to sell or give someone else the home.
It seems reasonable to us that if your mom, you and your sibling are living in the house, and getting the benefit of the home, that you pay all of the expenses of the home. You didn’t mention any other circumstances that would require other family members to pay the real estate taxes on this home, so we can’t address any other issues you might have with the home or the taxes. You also don’t mention whether you’re paying rent in addition to all of the expenses.
We do know that if the home’s title was in your mother’s name, the obligation to pay the real estate taxes would rest solely with her.
In some states, the real estate tax bill is substantially higher for a home that is not owner-occupied. This issue may be at the heart of your question. Your property taxes would be quite a bit lower if your mom owned the home and become more affordable.
If your grandma and grandpa have passed away, then the issue you need to research is who actually owns the home now that they are gone. If they left a will, that document will specify who should get title to the home. If they left no will, the probate court would use state law to determine who should get the home as an inheritance.
Depending on how your grandparents held title to the home, the home’s title might be passed to your grandparent’s children and they would share ownership in the home. Now if your mom has other siblings, she and they would have to get together and determine if they will all share the ownership of the home or whether the siblings would agree to give the ownership of the home to your mom.
All of those issues and questions that come up from those issues would need to be resolved between the family members. Once they are, you can figure out how to transfer title to the home from whoever owns it to whoever the new owners are.
Of course, it would be easier, and less costly, if everyone got along in your family. Good luck.
Ilyce Glink is the Publisher of ThinkGlink.com and the author of many books on home buying and selling. Sam Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney.