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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 17123
Experience:  General practice attorney
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Can a girlfriend that I was engaged to for a short time who

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Can a girlfriend that I was engaged to for a short time who does not have her name on the house but gave me the deposit money on the house have any claim? It is a relationship that isn't working. She refuses to move. She is a disabled vet with two children (one of which has profound autism). She receives enough money to get a place but she feels that because she gave me the deposit money I can't kick her out. She states that she is getting a lawyer and I'm going to regret my decision. I am in North Carolina. She was offered (when we were applying for a loan) the opportunity to be on the loan but refused. There is no cohabitation agreement, no lease, or any other written agreement. I have went through legal eviction procedures. Does she have any claim?

ScottyMacESQ :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacESQ :

No, she would not. Since NC does not recognize common law marriages (marriages that you can enter into by way of consent, rather than a formal legal process) then the fact that you did not get married and the fact that she did not have her name on the house means that she has no claim to the house itself.

ScottyMacESQ :

She does have a claim to the deposit and any other funds that she gave to you, under a couple of different legal theories (promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment)...

ScottyMacESQ :

So she could at best recover the amounts that she paid to you that you used to purchase the property, unless you could show that these amounts were clearly gifts and were not intended by her to be in exchange for any property interest or in anticipation of any ownership rights.

ScottyMacESQ :

Since she's not on the deed AND since she's not married to you, she has no ownership claim to the property. If she was married, then the court could consider this potentially marital property, and the fact that she was not on the deed would not be "fatal" to her case, but not being married means that property titled in your name alone will be your sole property.

ScottyMacESQ :

Again, she could have an economic claim of contribution for the amounts that she gave to you, but that does not give her any ownership interest in the property itself.

ScottyMacESQ :

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

Customer:

She had originally given me an ultimatum that she would not give me the money unless I put her name on the house. I told her that we did not have to buy a house and I could stay in mine. She chose to give me the money anyway. The mortgage lender did list the money as a gift. Does she still have claim financially? She has not paid rent in close to a year and has trashed the house.

ScottyMacESQ :

Only if she did something on her own (rather than some 3rd party) to indicate that this was a gift.

ScottyMacESQ :

But if not, especially under the circumstances, it probably would not be considered a gift...

ScottyMacESQ :

Rather, it would be considered a contingent payment, in anticipation of a condition not yet fulfilled (marriage).

ScottyMacESQ :

(most likely). That is, she was anticipating getting married, and this money given for this purpose was meant to purchase a property for the both of you, not just you (that you could unilaterally kick her out...)

ScottyMacESQ :

It would be very difficult to show that it was intended to be a gift...

Customer:

She signed a gift letter with the mortgage lender.

ScottyMacESQ :

I understand that, and that can be evidence that it was meant as a gift, but more often than not judges will not treat that the same as a gift...

ScottyMacESQ :

The reason is that the loan would not be granted unless she did sign... the "donative" intent to actually give you something was not really present, but rather the intent to procure a loan.

ScottyMacESQ :

You can argue that it's a gift, and if the judge agrees, then she doesn't have a claim.

ScottyMacESQ :

Furthermore, you can use that as leverage against her to get her to settle for a lower amount.

ScottyMacESQ :

But if it really were to go to court, they would need to find donative gratuitous intent, that the intent was truly to give you something, rather than to facilitate a loan.

Customer:

She gave me under $10,000. The bills she has owed for her half of the house bills are $7,000, plus damages to the house. I don't want to have to owe her $10,000.

ScottyMacESQ :

Understood, and to the extent that she benefited from the utilities, etc... and if you can prove the damages, you can hold her to those amounts.

ScottyMacESQ :

Any amount that you owe her would be offset by what she owes you.

ScottyMacESQ :

So if she owes $7,000, for instance, and you owe her $10,000, it would only be $3000 to her.

Customer:

I am going through all the bills online to get exact amounts. I have also printed out color pictures of the negative state of the house.

ScottyMacESQ :

That's good. You will have to quantify the damage (such as if you have to get it painted, have the receipts of the paint, as well labor expenses, etc...

ScottyMacESQ :

It being in a state of disarray is not enough... you're going to have to show that actual money was spent to bring it back to the way that it would have been without her damaging the property in that manner.

ScottyMacESQ :

The utilities and any unpaid rent (if there was a rental agreement) would also be able to offset anything that you would owe her.

Customer:

There was no written rental agreement

ScottyMacESQ :

But an oral agreement?

Customer:

Oral agreement yes

ScottyMacESQ :

You mentioned that she did not pay rent in a year, but was there an agreement that she would pay rent/

Customer:

Yes

ScottyMacESQ :

Then that is enough to hold against her.

ScottyMacESQ :

It's not something that can be enforced prospectively (leases greater than a year have to be in writing) but if she has already enjoyed the benefits of that lease, then you can sue her for that back rent.

ScottyMacESQ :

There can be an oral lease, and to the extent that there is fullfilment of your obligations (allowing her to stay) she would have to pay.

ScottyMacESQ :

*fulfilment

ScottyMacESQ :

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

Customer:

Thank you for your help

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