Put downpayment on house and did renovations – not married and now splitting up… can I get any money back?

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Put downpayment on house and did renovations – not married and now splitting up… can I get any money back?

I put down 20K on a house in my girlfriend’s name and then spent 4 years doing renovations and spending thousands on upgrades, etc. while I lived there with her. Can I get any of that investment back now that we are splitting up?

Asked on April 2, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If you are not on the deed then you are not an owner. Further, unless you had an agreement regarding reimbursement, then you are not entitledto it. Finally, since you are not married to the legal owner, you have no legal rights regarding the house. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, unfortunately you cannot, not unless you had a written agreement that you'd receive reimbursement under certain circumstances. You are not on the deed, so you have no property rights. You are not married, so you have no rights as a spouse under matrimonial or family law. And when you pay money or provide labor/work for someone else without their agreement to repay you or give you somerthing for it, you cannot force them to pay, etc. you--you cannot obligate someone without their agreement or consent, simply by what you do. 
(Rather, in a case like this, without an agreement, a court would look at this that you a) did it for your own benefit--to have a nice place to live or b) as a gift to someone you were romanrtically involved with.)


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