Advice for Friend -Living in House He Doesn't Own

So this is the whole story.

I have just found out from a close mate that the house he lives in, is owned by his brother who lives overseas. Now my mate has been living in this house for 20+ years and has been paying for every bill accountable ( electricity, water, council rates, taxes etc.).

This predicament came about recently when his father passed away and when I asked him about if he was going to inherit his father's house, he said he had to talk to his mother. Following his conversation with his mother, he found out that his brother who has been living overseas for over 30 years has both the ownership and the deed to the property.

Now here i where the complication comes, his older brother has been married for little over 2 years and they have a daughter now. After he told me this, i said mate you need to talk to a lawyer because your brothers wife can kick you out of the property as you don't own it. After i told him that, he said next time he goes to visit his brother he will talk to him.

And here is some more back story, originally his grandparents had 2 plots of land, one for him and one for his older brother. His parents decided to sell my mates plot of land to build a house for their family, so my mate lost his gifted land to build their family home.

Details Chronological order

1970s - Grandparents gift each son 1 block of land
1987 - Older Brother moves overseas and takes land deed with him
1988 - Parents sell mates block of land to build family home
1990 - father builds house and gets written onto the land ownership
2017 - Older Brother decides to get married and have a family
2018 - father passes
2018+ - Mate and Mother live in house

Is there any suggested advice that I can give my mate?


  • Yes advise him to defer to the consensus of opinion on Australia's foremost bargains website.

    • You got a bargain deal for him than, at least?

      • -4 votes

        …i said mate … your brothers wife can kick you out of the property as you don't own it.

        You must be a lawyer, as only lawyers can give legal advice in this country.

    • Is there any suggested advice that I can give my mate?

      I wish there was someone or a body of people who are qualified to advise people about the law and represent them in court.

      They should invent them and call them…………… maybe Lawyers?

    • +2 votes

      That comment should appear on just about every forum post.

  • Is there any suggested advice that i can give my mate?

    Yes, it goes like this:

    hears crickets chirping

    Stay out of it?

    • lol, if i want to keep the mate than yes. But that again i have lost mates by letting them date dodgy birds and not saying anything. The worse thing was they married them.

      • The chances of having more than one mate, who happened to marry dodgy ladies, who you just happened to know were dodgy but didn't tell your mates, and it was a big enough issue to have lost those mates, is so remote…. that you must have many, many mates, so that losing another one just for not giving him legal advice shouldn't really matter

    • Stay out of it?

      Ding! Ding! Ding!

      We have a winner ladies and gentlemen!!

    • +1 vote

      You want him to tell his mate to stay out of it?🤨

  • 1) Set up a lease agreement. There's notice, etc. The brother could agree to 6 month notice.

    2) Unlikely that your mate got nothing in will. But it may have been that your mate hasn't seen the will. Have a look over it.

    • Good idea about the will, it will stake his partial ownership in the property. i can ask him about that.

      • My wife's dad died and his long term girlfriend and her kids (from a different marriage) got almost everything as he didn't have a will. His girlfriend and her kids do not get along with my wife and siblings.

        My wife and her siblings talked to a lawyer and they got his super but none of the property.

        The biggest argument was that the long term girlfriend was reliant on my wife's dad whereas my wife and her siblings are all successful in their own right.

        • Even if there was a Will, she likely could have contested it in her favour, the law is set up to benefit those who need it most so that that person doesn't become dependent on the government.

          • @tryagain: Yeh it was sheer laziness in the girlfriends part tho. She was 50, could easily have got a job but just chose not to.

            You can set up bloodline trusts to avoid this from my understanding.

  • Don't worry about stuff that might not happen.

    been paying for every bill accountable

    But not Rent?

    • he had assumed his father owned the house for 30+ years considering his father built the house himself.

      • So if your friend has been living in the house for 20 years, where was he living in the prior 10 years?

        Where was the Father living and now where is the Mother living?

      • So he has lived there for 20 years rent free, while the brother got nothing, and he wants more?

  • +17 votes

    Why is it always someone’s friend who these things happen to? Why don’t these “friends” ever post for themselves?

    I would definitely be looking for the will and proof the house went to the brothers name (and when?).

    Definitely worth contacting a lawyer if anything strange is discovered

    • Doesn't it sound a bit stupid that you have been living in a house for 20 years that was built from the selling of your asset, but your parents forgot to write you into the ownership of the property. And now you find out after 20 years+.

      • Depending on how old this person is, I find it a bit silly they didn’t think until now to look into it.

        Also, why isn’t the mum owning any of this? Why did the death of their father kick her out of ownership?

  • 20+ years and has been paying for every bill accountable

    Unless he is also paying the mortgage, it seems fair that he is paying for all this in lieu of actual rent.

    I mean, would you expect the brother who is living overseas to be paying electrical bills?

    Assuming it is a 50/50 ownership, it would be fair for the person who is living there to pay for all the outgoings and may even supplement the other person's mortgage (if one exists).

    You don't own a house just because you paid the bills just like employees don't own the business because they've worked there.

    • So ownership belonged to his father who passed away recently and the older brother. The father didn't write a Will as his death was sudden. There is no mortgage on the house or land, the land belonged to the older brother while the house was built from the sale of land that belonged to my mate. So no mortgage. The house was built exactly 30 years ago, i have known him 20 years only.

      • +24 votes

        This thread is pointless because you don't have all the information, you don't have access to all the information, you don't know who has all the information.

        You don't know what you don't know. We don't know what you don't know.

      • The owner of the property is on deed.

  • htf can the wife kick him out of the house, she doesn't own it.
    you think cos i'm married wife can kick my dad out a house i own entirely mysself?

    • She’s technically entitled to like half of his assets because of their relationship status.

      • +2 votes

        She’s technically entitled to like half of his assets because of their relationship status.

        You mean 'legally', right?

        • Yeah that one, haha thanks!

        • and why is she legally entitled given

          1.) she contributed no money to the purchase
          2.) she took out no liability to obtain the mortgage
          3.) the property was purchased even prior to them knowing each other
          4.) she is putting no money to the repayments.

          there is no way this guy is holding that property on trust for her in anyway.

          you have watched too much tv, or listen to many stories.

          • @unclesnake: She's legally entitled because it's the law.

            • @brad1-8tsi: well funny my 2nd wife never got my house which i had paid off before we even met, and why would she, we had no kids, and she contributed nothing

              its done on case by case basis you dont just get 50% by being married.

            • @brad1-8tsi: so if u had a million dollar liability she is now responsible for half of that?

              18/4/2019 meet bird at bar, have a terrific night
              19/4/2019 get married whilst still drunk
              20/4/2019 get divorced.

              judge : your 100 million dollars of assets is now half hers, its the law.

      • Yeh cos it works like that

        Your married one second and everything is halves

        Maybe once you have kids, but hate to be the one to point this out, it is often 70/30

        • I've just been through a property settlement that would make your eyes water and never want to be in a co-habiting relationship again.

          I know how the law works in respect to marriage, dependant & non-dependant children, length of relationship, contribution to assets, who brought in what & when, etc.

          Wive's trump kids, parents, siblings, fairness and common sense.

      • +2 votes

        (IANAL) In Australia the law now aligns to assets that are entirely acquired by an individual prior to marriage remain the sole property of the individual after divorce.

        Assets that are jointly contributed to during marriage are jointly owned and dealt with proportionally at divorce.

        The wife would have no claim on the house if the husband owned it prior to marriage and she contributed nothing to it.
        If she contributed part of the running costs, she would have a tiny claim based on the amount contributed but it would be maybe 1% of the value.

        Divorce is no risk here however death is, since then she would likely receive 100% if there's a will directing it or 33-100% if there isn't, depending on number of other family members alive at the time.

    • Married life, the wife is the real boss

      • +5 votes

        In your opinion, is the wife one of those "dodgy birds" that you mentionned above ? I'm only asking so that I could use the expression "dodgy birds". I've never used it before 😁

  • +5 votes

    This is going to be controversial but if your mate hasn't paid a mortgage or rent for over 20 years, he should have a sizeable savings : why can't he move out and buy his own place?

  • Sounds like the story of Jacob and Esau

  • We all know who the favourite brother is…

    Jokes aside, some families don’t draw the legal line that clearly - perhaps the brother will give him a fare share of capital gains if it was ever sold.

  • Adverse possession. I’m not a lawyer, but it might be worth looking into it if they have been living there for 20 years…

    • wont work as its his brother you are talking about, for adverse possession to work he would have to show that he has attempted to locate the person that owns the property, this also has to be done over a period of time. The fact that its his brother it would be highly unlikely that the court would transfer the title to him.

      • Maybe the wrong term… considering OP has been paying everything for the house for 20 years with no input from the brother… it’s one of those things that really requires them to lawyer up. As soon as a new wife gets involved in family, it’s gets super ugly. But cheers for the info. I’d have to look into it some more.


    Get in contact with the lawyer who managed this case for your "Friend" Maybe there is a chance to get everything.

    • Under law, individuals are granted ownership of a property if they have openly occupied it for more than 12 years without permission from the owners.

      Except that he had permission

    • This is great actually, he would qualify under squatters rights.

      • squatters right is the way to go here! Time to get a lawyer!

        • I can't believe the advice here… No one here knows the details of the situation, not even OP.

          Time to get a lawyer? Against his own brother? Who has literally done nothing wrong and everything is unfounded speculation at this point.

          Advising to lawyer up is sending him on the same path that has torn apart many families before him.

  • +4 votes

    any suggested advice that I can give my mate?

    Tell him to ask his friend bob the builder to build him one.

  • I hope he's paying the other brother rent and not being a free loader for 20+ years

    • Nope hes never payed rent, his older brother has never ever lived in the house because it was built from the sale of my mates land. Otherwise the land had no house on it.

  • 20 years, he'd qualify for adverse possession although its going to be complicated and will definitely destroy the family, what he really needs to do is sort out a formal arrangement while his mother is around to confirm the properties history. FWIW I'd say buying the property of his brother for 50% of the market rate would be fair.

    • It don't sound like OP was the sole occupant of the property for 20 years. It was a family property. The mother is still alive may still be living in the same property.

      • Mother is alive living in the property with my mate. Brother has been living overseas for the pass 30 years. My mate takes care of his mother and use to take care of his father.

  • Is the family home going to your mate?

    • Legally no, because he was never put on the land deed after his land was sold. The father died suddenly and didn't put his name on.

  • The brother owns the land, but your mate built the house on top of land he doesn't own. Irrelevant where the money to build the house came from.

    Unless there was another contract signed between the brothers when the house was built this is a legal nightmare if the family doesn't work something amicably amongst themselves.

    Possible forced sale of the land and house? Squatters law works in your friends favour?

  • +10 votes

    So there's a couple of ways this can go.

    He can sit down and talk to his brother and try to come to a fair agreement about who gets what - this is the Ozbargain way as it is free.

    The really expensive, stupid but most common way is to lawyer up and go to mediation and pray they can agree and it doesn't have to go to court.

    Encourage your friend to go for the first option.

  • What the hell does this have to do with you or us!!?!??

  • Tell him to buy his own house, or buy the house

  • Assassinate the brother, wife and their daughter. That's the only way.

    • Also the mate and his mum.

      I'm sure that was the story line in a Midsomer Murders episode.

  • I mean if his older brother isn't saying anything does he have to say anything? Why try and stir the pot for no reason

    • He's a non reactive bloke and will just be content. With the value of property in Sydney i can't see his older brother just letting the house stay with my mate.

  • Your friend has had dirt cheap rent for 20 years, surely in that time he saved enough to buy a place of his own?
    Re the parents home… It sounds like his brother may have purchased the parents home for them… Did he? If so then it is his. If it was willed or gifted to him then the same applies.
    If your friend has no official title to the block of land he claimed was "gifted" to him then again it is a case of too bad.
    If he is serious about his claims and has proof of his entitlement then he should see a solicitor or just move on.
    Sounds like he may have been "cruising" with his fingers crossed and the free ride has come to an end?

    • i don't know many people who make that much money from scratch in such a short time. His working time in the workforce is only 12 years at most. Doesn't sound a suitable option at all. "Cruising" is the best description of him

  • If the Father’s name is on the title to the land, alongside the brother, then wouldn’t the Father’s share have been passed onto the Mother? In that case, then she should restructure her Will to pass this on to your friend; perhaps detailing the events of what happened to justify this one-sided distribution in case the brother fights it.

  • Hold on, why does a 50 year old man still live with his mum? Wtf is going on there?

    • 30 and he looks after his mum. He moved out ages ago but had to move back in to look after his folks

      • So he was paying the bills at 10yo? 😂

        Now my mate has been living in this house for 20+ years and has been paying for every bill accountable ( electricity, water, council rates, taxes etc.).

  • Top