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Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 1805
Experience:  California lawyer since 1976.
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Hi, I was hoping you could help me out with this situation.

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Hi, I was hoping you could help me out with this situation. My husband and I are both 28, we have a 7 year old and my husband has been disabled with kidney failure since age 19. We finally got his disability in 2004 and wanted to move out of the tiny apartment we were living in. His parents, very well off financially, offered to give us a lot they owned to put a mobile home on. We couldn't get qualified for the home because our income was too low at the time so his parents offered to finance it in their name and we were supposed to give them $9000 for the down payment and just make the payments to them until it was paid off. They said the payments were $340 a month for 180 months. I wanted to pay the house off early so I started out paying $450 a month. Then they started complaining that we werent paying enough and they were having to pay taxes and insurance, etc... So I paid them more. What else can I do? My family needs a place to live? All was well until my husbands mom lost her mortgage job-FOR THEFT! Then what we were paying wasnt enough for them again and they wanted more. On average, we have paid them $543 a month since November 2004 on top of the $9000 down. Here, four years later, they say we still owe them $29000 on a $34000 loan. I keep copies of all of my checks and reciepts but I was stupid and didnt get anything in writing as far as our house-everything was verbal because we trusted them. Now theyre saying it is their rental property, in their name, and even claim all the tax credits for what we pay on it. They are even saying they should be repaid for money they gave us as GIFTS to pay utility bills & buy medicine when my husband was on dialysis. I dont know what to do. We just want to move and get away from them, but they have taken all of our money we should have in savings in buying this house. The $9000 was my husband's entire disability backpayment. They say that if we were to move out, they could charge way more for the rent every month. I honestly dont know what to do here. I just know this is very, very wrong. Is there any legal recourse I can take? ANY answer to help is much appreciated.
Hello DBates and welcome back to JustAnswer. I am truly sorry to hear of the problems you are having with your in-laws. I have to say that in more than 30 years of practicing law, this is one of the most incredibly sad stories I have ever heard.

Unfortunately, this is also a very complex situation, regarding which I can give you only the most basic suggestions. What you really need to do ... what you must do ... is consult with a local attorney who can review all of your paperwork, such as it is, and give you a thorough analysis of your situation. You can find a lawyer by contacting the Tarrant County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service though their webpage at:

The phone number for the lawyer referral service is near the bottom of the home page. You should call them on Monday to make arrangements for an initial consultation with a local attorney.

In the meanwhile, here are my thoughts on your situation:

First, do not be reluctant to cause a scene or embarass these people, even though they are your husband's parents. What you have described is absolutely despicable and they deserve no consideration whatsoever. In fact, on the contrary, you should consider going to the local newspaper and telling your story so they can publish it. Perhaps public shame will cause these people to do what's right.

Second, I wouldn't be too concerned about them suing you. In fact, you should discuss with the attorney you see the possibilities of suing them. You have a contract, even though it was not reduced to writing, and are entitled to have that contract enforced. You are also entitled to an accounting of the status of your payments and the amount still due.

Third, as far as taxes are concerned, you should continue to claim deductions for your payments to them as if they were complying with your agreement. You have no control over what they do on their taxes, but frankly shouldn't care. You do your taxes the way they should be done. If they take unauthorized deductions it will be up to them to square up with the IRS and you shouldn't worry about that.

Fourth, do not worry too much about being thrown out -- if they want to do that, they will have to file a lawsuit, which will give you the opportunity to present all of your evidence and to show the court that you are actually buying the mobile home, that you are current in your payments and that there is no legal basis upon which to force you to leave.

Fifth, you are not required to repay gifts. So, unless you agreed in writing to repay these gifts, it will be difficult for them to convince anyone that they were intended to be loans. Under the circumstances you have described, it is unlikely that any judge would order you to repay those gifts.

Sixth, yours is a very sympathetic situation, particularly in light of your husband's health problems. It is incomprehensible that his parents are treating you and their grandchild this way and, even more so, that they are treating their son like this, given his disability. Anyone looking at these circumstances objectively is going to recognize that you are being taken advantage of by your in-laws.

Finally, do not let these people bully you or push you around. It is probably difficult for you -- and perhaps even more so for your husband -- to stand up to his parents. But, you should do so without hesitation or reservation. Your feeling is correct -- this is very, very wrong and you should not let them get away with it without a fight.

As I said above, contact the Tarrant County Bar Association on Monday and get started doing something about this. And good luck to you and your husband. If you have any other questions, please let me know.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you so much! I do have 3 other questions for you.

First; We have not ever claimed house payments on our taxes, simply because they told us we couldn't. Isn't that going to be a problem in itself since they have been claiming the property as a rental on their taxes all along? Should we file amended returns?
Second; The land that the house is on is also still in their name; they never signed it over to us. That said, the entire property does not have our name anywhere on it except for the stack of reciepts I have for payments, bills and maintenence on the property. Is that sufficient in your opinion?
Third; Im not sure what an "undisclosed buy for" is, but that is the term that the salesman used when my husbands parents applied for the loan. He said he wasnt sure it was acceptable, but that they werent going to mention it to the mortgage company- just in case. Could you tell me what that term means?

Sorry to ask so many things but you are the first person that has actually answered anything at all!!
To get your entire tax situation straightened out, you are probably going to have to have the assistance of a tax accountant. Even though you had nothing in writing, you were still entitled to take the usual tax deductions for interest payments and other deductible expenses, to the extent that there were any. And yes, it may be necessary for you to file amended returns going back as far as you can legally do that. A tax professional will be able to help you prepare the appropriate returns and take the allowable deductions. And, once again, I wouldn't be too worried about your in-laws tax situation ... let them get straightened out with the IRS what their correct status is.

Proving that your inlaws intended to give you the lot, without a written agreement or a signed deed, will be more difficult than proving you are actually buying the mobile home. Since it was a gift, none of your receipts or other paperwork will have anything to do with the land. When you discuss this with a local attorney, you can raise that issue as well, but it seems your best argument in that regard will be that it was all part and parcel of the same agreement and that you are entitled to have the land signed over to you as well. You would have to ask for a declaratory judgment in that regard.

Without seeing all of the paperwork, it is hard to evaluate the sufficiency of your proof, but it is really going to be the believability of your word against theirs as to your underlying agreement that is most important. Then the receipts, checks and bills will be support for your contention that you had an oral contract of purchase/sale.

The term "undisclosed buy for" refers to the fact that your in-laws were actually buying the property on behalf on undisclosed actual buyers. In other words, it was an "undisclosed" purchase ("buy") "for" you and your husband, rather than a purchase for your inlaws. If the salesman recalls this, his testimony would be significant because he could confirm that the purchase was actually being made for you and your husband rather than for your inlaws. You and/or the attorney you speak with should get in touch with him right away and, if he remembers the circumstances, get him to sign an affidavit to that effect right away.

Once again, good luck with this difficult situation. Be strong and I hope it works out for the best. If you have any other questions, please let me know, though I'm off to bed now and won't be able to answer until tomorrow.

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