What is a joint tenant’s liability regarding a house that they move out of?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What is a joint tenant’s liability regarding a house that they move out of?

My boyfriend and I bought a house 27 years ago which is in both our names; we have an extra lot in both of our names held as a tenancy in common (I think it is called). He has become very very difficult to live with, not physically abusive but verbally. If I leave but still pay the real estate taxes, am I responsible for maintenance and bills that he incurs still living in the house?

Asked on March 27, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You are responsible for the maintenance and bills in some or all of the following ways:
1) If any bills/accounts are in your name as well as his (e.g. if the electric bill is in both your names), the vendor or utility can go after you for the money, whether or not you live there.
2) Your boyfriend could sue you for you share of any costs or bills--if you're not living there, a court might make you pay less then half, even much less, of certain costs, since he, and not you is benefiting by the expenditures and therefore he should pay them--but this is a very subjective issue and you can't be sure how a court would rule.
3) If neither of you pay the maintenance costs and the house is damaged, etc., they reduces its value, which obviously hurts you if you are part owner.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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