Dear Penny: Am I Wrong to Make My Unemployed Niece Pay Rent?

Dear Penny,

Recently, we had to transfer our mother to a nursing house. Prior to the transfer, my niece had moved in along with her. My mother has dementia and isn’t probably to return to dwelling at house. 

The niece was dwelling rent-free when Mom was right here. She remains to be staying right here and nonetheless not paying. She is unemployed however has been getting unemployment. She has been there since final September. Mom went to the nursing house in February.

My brother is the sturdy energy of lawyer and in command of bills. We are hoping to hold onto the home. There are some financial savings to pay for the nursing house for a couple of years. When the financial savings are gone, we could have no selection however to promote the home.

My niece was paying a roommate a considerable sum earlier than she moved in with Mom. She has had many months to save, and her bills are low since she pays no lease or utilities. My brother turned off the cable, however the web remains to be on. Plus there are bills for fuel, oil, electrical, property taxes and upkeep. I dwell out of state however come again for prolonged visits and work remotely whereas I am there. I plan to ship a test for the web, electrical and so forth. to my brother. I normally keep for 3 weeks or so.

Someone wants to inform the niece she wants to begin paying for among the bills. I don’t fairly know the way to deliver it up to her. When I talked about it to my sister (the niece’s mom’s twin), she appeared indignant that we might count on cash from an unemployed individual. 

I guess I want to work out how to deliver it up to her. Before Mom went to the nursing house, there was an enormous argument as a result of after Mom mentioned she might transfer in, Mom then determined she didn’t need her right here. After Mom was moved to the nursing house, it was my thought for the niece to give you the chance to keep. So, I really feel like I must be the one to inform her the free trip is over.


Dear L.,

When you provided to let your niece keep in your mother’s house, you didn’t absolve her of lease for all times. The dialog you’re about to have shouldn’t come as a shock. Note that I say “shouldn’t” quite than “won’t” right here. I suspect shock is precisely the response you’ll get.

Think about it out of your niece’s perspective. After eight months of dwelling rent-free, why ought to she have completely different expectations for months 9 or 10?

I do suppose that since this association was your thought, you ought to be a part of this dialog. But as sturdy energy of lawyer, your brother is the one making the selections. So I suppose the 2 of you need to speak to your niece collectively.

What’s good is that you just appear to be feeling average frustration, quite than full-blown rage at this level. Don’t let issues attain a boiling level together with your niece. This dialog wants to occur quickly.

First, speak together with your brother on what an excellent final result seems like. Do you need your niece out altogether? Are you OK along with her staying if she pays for repairs and utilities, even when she wouldn’t pay lease? Or are you hoping she’ll keep and finally pay lease at truthful market worth?

I’m guessing the perfect situation is someplace between the second and third choices. It’s affordable to count on her to pay one thing for lease however in all probability not what you’d cost a stranger, particularly because you keep on the house every so often. You and your brother ought to agree on a greenback quantity that she’ll be chargeable for and every other duties you want her to tackle.

Regardless of your splendid final result, give her a heads-up that this dialogue is coming. Schedule a time to discuss how to deal with bills transferring ahead in order that she doesn’t really feel blindsided.

Try not to lecture her about all the cash she ought to have been saving since September. I get your frustrations. But actually, it’s irrelevant at this level.

Keep the dialog ahead wanting. Show your niece what it’s costing to keep the house and ask her what she will afford to contribute. She’s getting unemployment, so she ought to give you the chance to kick in one thing, even after groceries and different bills. You can provide to assist her make a price range or revamp her resume. But in the end, you want to set a really clear expectation for what you want from her going ahead.

What I’m hoping is that slightly strain will give your niece some much-needed motivation and that extra excessive measures, like eviction, gained’t be essential. Sometimes a looming deadline forces us to act.

This might be a tricky dialog. You had good intentions, however now you’ve to be the unhealthy man. Please don’t child your self by pondering this example will change by itself.

Robin Hartill is an authorized monetary planner and a senior author at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tough cash questions to [email protected].

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