Can I evict my sister out of the house if she has her name on the deed but not on the mortgage loan?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I evict my sister out of the house if she has her name on the deed but not on the mortgage loan?

About 10 years ago I made the biggest mistake helping my sister purchase a house in which she promised she will be paying the mortgage/rent. She lives in the house while I live out-of-state. Then 2 years after the purchase, she decided not to pay the mortgage/rent and the

mortgage become behind payment for over 7 years now. If her name is on the deed, does this means she is a co-owner of the house even though my name is on the mortgage? Does she has the rights to stay? Can I remove her name on the deed so I can evict her out? She thinks she can live in the house for free while damaging my credit.

Asked on August 21, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The deed determines ownership; the mortgage is how received--and has to repay--a loan. If she is on the home's deed, she is equally an owner with you; you may not evict her, becasue one owner may not evict another and because her right to use, possess, etc. the home is equal to your right. You have two options:
1) Sue her her the money she owes you, under the agreement for her to pay rent and/or the mortgage, and under the theory of "unjust enrichment": it is legally inappropriate and unjust for her to get the benefit of living there without paying for the home--the problem is, if she does not have cash and/or a decent job working for someone else (so you can garnish wages), it can be very difficult to collect; and/or 
2) Bring a legal action for "partition": for a court order that the home be sold and any proceeds, after paying off the loan and costs of sale, be distributed. Courts can order this when the owners of real estate do not agree as to what to do to it. Potentially, when distributing any proceeds, the court can take account of the amounts you have already paid and give you more of the proceeds. Actions for partition are complex, compared to many lawsuit; you are strongly advised to retain an attorney to help you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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