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Richard Price, Esq
Richard Price, Esq, Attorney
Category: CA Real Estate
Satisfied Customers: 59
Experience:  Attorney at The Law Office of Richard Samuel Price
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Family owned 10 acre farmland w/small home in Modesto, CA.

Customer Question

Hello. Family owned 10 acre farmland w/small home in Modesto, CA. About 15 yrs back, Grandfather (GF) and Grandmother (GM) getting too old to work it so my GF made verbal agreement with another farmer, Rob, to do land upkeep. In turn, Rob was able to plant
his crop, peaches, onto 5 acres of land. Since, my GF has passed and GM (partially blind) lives with me and other family 'round-robin' as she doesn't want to be in a home. I want her land to make her money. Currently, through Rob working the 5 acres of land
(non-peaches), GM makes 7-10 thousand a year. Meanwhile, Rob and the peaches are doing very well. Land upkeep has been slipping a bit and there is no 'checks and balances' on Rob as I live 100 miles away. The farmhouse, which was already very old when GM and
GF there is uninhabitable, been 'squatted' in by homeless, etc. It would take far more $ than GM has in her account to make it habitable. 7-10k will not finance GM as she will likely soon need a home to support her. We need her land to make her more money.
That said, selling is something we would RATHER not do unless necessary (to keep it in the family) to help pay for the extra supports. This leads to my questions: 1. If we sell the land, does Rob have any rights as his peach trees are on the land? Again, the
person he made the verbal with, my GF, has been passed for 5 years. We get nothing for the peaches on OUR land. He basically gets to use our land for free. 2. I was wanting to see if we can change the verbal agreement my GF and he struck, as GF is not around
anymore and situation has changed. Is it possible to have Rob pay a 'rent' fee for the land? To get a fair % of what he earns from the peaches? (My GM says, per GF, that Rob verbally agreed to paying 20% of what peaches made, but that never happened). I feel
like my grand-folks farm is financing someone else lifestyle. 3. Who/what kind of lawyer would I go see to make any of these changes happen? I appreciate the consult.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: CA Real Estate
Expert:  Richard Price, Esq replied 1 year ago.

You would hire a real estate attorney to handle this for you. I may be able to help you with this as I work statewide.

In a legal sense, Rob has a revocable license to plant and harvest peach trees on your grandparent's property. He has a right to plant and harvest peaches, and to go onto the land for the purpose of maintaining the trees and harvesting the peaches. But Rob's rights are not permanent. Yes, you can negotiate anything with Rob to change the verbal agreement for the peach tree license. A bare license is revocable at any time. You want to assert your grandparent's rights so that Rob does not gain more rights of an easement. There really should be a written license agreement between your grandmother and Rob and in that agreement, Rob can pay a license fee for the use of the land. Furthermore, if Rob hasn't paid his 20% of income from the peaches, then your grandmother can sue for recovery of that money... but only for the past two years since the statute of limitations on verbal agreements only lasts two years.

One other option for your grandmother would be to get a reverse mortgage to help pay for her health care costs, but that has to be refinanced after she passes if you want to keep the farmland in the family.

By the say, if you haven't done so already, you will need to file an Affidavit - Death of Joint Tenant if your grandfather is still on title to the land as a joint tenant. Furthermore, your grandmother should be holding the property in a living trust.