What can I hope to get back from a long term engagement regarding resources that I spent on improving my ex-fiance’s property?

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What can I hope to get back from a long term engagement regarding resources that I spent on improving my ex-fiance’s property?

I have had a long term engagement to a lady who lives out of state. I purchased and spent a lot of money improving her property. In fact, I spent most of the year there for the last 4 years and commuted 4 years before that. What can I recoup from the relationship?

Asked on June 3, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country, if you improved the real property of your former fiance' with respect to materials, labor and money incurred with respect to it, you may have an equitable lien on the property offset by the fair rental value of the property that you received while living there assuming you did assuming you you and your "ex" had some agreement for reimbursement (oral or written) for the work you did on the property.

Your commute time and mileage incurred are not compensable under the law. I reccomend that you consult further with a real estate attorney concerning whether the possible equitable lien you might have on the property is worth pursuing.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You probably can't recover anything, unless there was some agreement (preferrably a written one) between the two of you that either 1) the amounts you were spending were a loan and would be repaid; and/or 2) that by paying this money or making this effort (e.g. "sweat equity") you were acquiring an interest in the property. (For this second thing, the agreement would have to be in writing to be enforceable.) That is because unless at the time you expended these resources, you did so with the agreement that you would be repaid or otherwise recover them, they would have been a gift; and a gift, once given, may not be "ungiven"--that is, if  you gift something to someone, you give up all claim to its return.


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