How can I collectrent from my brother after a verbal agreement?

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How can I collectrent from my brother after a verbal agreement?

My brother moved into my home over 10 years ago. He was to pay rent of $50 per week (a verbal agreement that my family is aware of). He paid me roughly 10-12 times in all these years, approximately $600 total. He moved out 11 months ago and now lives with my sister. How can I get the money from him that he owes me? How good or legal is a verbal agreement? We’re talking in the neighborhood of $2500 x 10 years, approximately $25,000.

Asked on June 25, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Legally, a verbal (or more properly, oral) lease is enforceable, just like most oral contracts are enforceable. You won't be able to collect back past the statute of limitations, which I believe is six years for a matter like this, so you'd have to write off amounts older than that.

To collect, you will need to sue him, so you'll need to file a lawsuit. In New Jersey, if the amount you're suing for is $15,000 or less, you can bring it in Special Civil Part and potentially represent yourself (be a pro se plaintiff) rather than hiring an attorney. This is NOT recommended, but representing yourself is always an option, and it's easier in Special Civil than in the Law Division generally. (If you limit what you're suing for to the threshold for Small Claims, you can bring the action there, making it even easier.)

You will need to be able to prove the existence and terms of the agreement, which you can try to do through your and others' testimonty. You'll also need to prove how much was and was not paid. No law suit is ever a given or guaranteed to win, but from what you write, it'd be worthwhile to at least consider and, ideally, consult with an attorney.


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