If I own a home in which my nephew was living and he did renovations, am I liable for paying for them?

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If I own a home in which my nephew was living and he did renovations, am I liable for paying for them?

My nephew was living there and was supposed to be trying to get a mortgage to buy it. He renovated the house after general conversations about it. He did not specifically tell me when and what he was renovating. He couldn’t get a mortgage so I asked him to move out. Now he wants me to pay him for the renovations he started but did not complete. Am I legally responsible for the cost of the renovations?

Asked on January 28, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, you are not obligaged to pay him: if someone unilaterally (on his own) renovates a property without getting the approval of the owner for the renovations (as your write was the case here), the owner does not have to repay or reimburse him. Without your consent, he had no right to make renovations, so he can't charge you. Moreoever, even if you'd agreed to let him do renovations, they are typically considered to have been for his benefit (e.g. to improve the place while he was living there) and you would not have to reimburse him unless you'd agreed to do so. Indeed, you could potentially sue him for the cost to undo the renovations, if they are not things you wanted, or to complete them, if they are incomplete (as indicated).


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