As a unmarriedperson who was in a relationship for 10 years, do I have any rights to shared real estate?

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As a unmarriedperson who was in a relationship for 10 years, do I have any rights to shared real estate?

My girlfriend of 10 years and I decided to buy a foreclosed home in her name. The agreement was she would pay the mortgage and pay for the material to fix up the home. I would pay all expenses and renovate the home. It needed major work. I ran a construction company at the time and used my contractors at reduced rates and would approximate my labor to be around $30-$50k. I also spent several thousand dollars in additional material. The project took about 2.5 years. We have been here 3 yrs,. now and she suddenly told me to get out and has no plans to give me anything. Do I have any legal recourse?

Asked on July 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

IF you can show that there was an agreement that in exchange for doing the work, etc., you would gain or receive some ownership interest in the home, then you *may* be able to enforce that agreement--the problem, even if you have such an agreement, is that agreements in regard to real estate typically need to be in writing to be enforced. Without an agreement--especially a written agreement--you *may* be able to show your entitlement to some compensation for the work you did (for example, reimbursement for some or all of the expenses), but you also might not be able to receive compensastion: a court could conclude, based on the evidence and whatever your girlfriend testifies, that the work you did was either a gift to her or "rent" for living there.

It would be worthwhile to consult with a real estate attorney, but without a written agreement, be aware that you are starting from a very weak legal position.


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