May I charge rent or force someone to move off property if I own 50% but the owner does not want to charge rent or make someone move off the property?

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May I charge rent or force someone to move off property if I own 50% but the owner does not want to charge rent or make someone move off the property?

My friend bought 2.25 acres of land 29 years ago. She put a trailer on the property and resided in the trailer for 7 years. The year before, my friend let her sister put a mobile home in her backyard. After my friend assured me that her sister’s family would be living in the mobile home on the property temporarily and would move off the property when they were in a better financial state, I agreed to pay half the cost of a new house built on the property plus half of the land purchase price. A quitclaim deed gave me half ownership of the property. Over the next 10 years, my friend and I paid off the house and land. As I had promised, I paid for half of the house and half of the land purchase price. However, all these years later, my friend’s sister/family are still living on the property. They have never paid rent during the 22 years they have lived on the property. There is no lease or other legal document that provides the sister’s family the right to live there. Unfortunately, the term temporarily was never defined as a specific number of years but I’m sure 22 years is way longer than temporary. I want them to move off of the property and, while they are still on the property, I want them to pay rent. When I discuss this matter with my friend, she says her sister does not have to move and they will not be required to pay rent. My friend and I own this property equally. What are my rights? May I make them get off the property against my friend’s wishes? May I require them to pay rent against my friend’s wishes?

Asked on January 2, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, each owner has equal rights to let people live on or occupy the land as "guests"--even as "permanent guests"--without having to pay rent, so the other owner can let her family stay there as long as she wants; and since she is an owner, she has the right to do this, the same way that you could let friends or family stay on the land. You cannot make them leave or pay rent. 
All you can do, if you are and she cannot work this out and you do not want to put up with this situation anymore, is bring a legal action in county court traditionally called an action "for partition" in which the court orders that the property be sold and the proceeds from the sale be divided among or between the owners. That will get your share of the property's value and extricate you from the situation and it is, as stated, your only option.
Note: the family llving there for 22 years gives them NO rights: when stay on land with an owner's knowledge and permission, you acquire no rghts to the property or to stay there, no matter how long you were there.


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