property ownership

Before my father died he turned ownership of his commercial property to my nephew with the stipulation that it was ours jointly. My name couldn’t be put on the deed because I owed a school loan and my father thought a lien could be put on the property if I couldn’t make payments. I have recently moved back from San Francisco and am staying in the house with nephew and his family. I am having issues with both he and his girlfriend. What are my rights? Would I need an affidavit from family members stating that what I am saying is true?

Asked on September 20, 2018 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You don't own the property and there is no way to establish that you do.
1) You are not on the deed: the deed establishes ownership.
2) A contract to buy or acquire real estate in the future must be in writing to be enforceable; an unwritten, non-contractual promise, statement of intent, etc. about propety ownership is not valid in CA.
3) Even if there was something in writing saying that he wanted you to share in the property, unless you gave him something in exchange for that promise (e.g. paid something to him; cancelled a debt he otherwise owed you; etc.), that would not constitute a binding contract. For there to be an enforceable contract, each side or person must get something of value.
Unfortunately, nothing in your question indicates an enforceable right to the real estate; it does not appear to be yours.

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