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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 102356
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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A co-worker became trustee of a property when the owner

Customer Question

A co-worker became trustee of a property when the owner died. He verbally agreed to sell the property to me, in front of at least one other co-worker. Contract pending -"his attorney getting around to it", he agreed to rent the property, no written contract, to me for $300 a month, cash payments supposedly "suggested by his attorney to keep things separate". I moved in April 1, have paid cash rent, with no receipts- only text correspondance when I was inquiring his location so I could bring him the ren money. I installed a water pump in the deep well at my own expense of almost $900 so I could have running water. I also painted all interior rooms, replaced flooring, mowed and did general maintenance upkeep while living there. I had the electric turned on in my name and have been paying monthly bills. I signed the contract at his attorneys office 2 months ago.this morning he texted that he never received July rent. I called his attorney this morning to confirm our closing appointment set for 3 days from now and was told that my co-worker has not signed the contract so they have been unable to proceed with the necessary paperwork and we will not be closing on Monday. I have been paying rent for 4 months and living there and now it looks like he's not going to follow through signing the contract. Do I have legal recourse? Squatters rights?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation. On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and this is one of these times.

Someone in your situation has little recourse. Allow me to explain why. First, while many verbal contracts are binding, some are not and require a written contract. In Missouri, as well as most other states, a contract for sale of real estate has to be in writing, as well as anything over $500, with few exceptions. See HERE. This is called STATUTE OF FRAUDS.

Therefore, the verbal promise is not binding, arguably.

Second, squatter's rights are not satisfied in such a scenario. Squatter's rights are more properly known as adverse possession, and Missouri requires the following for adverse possession to take effect: actual possession, for 10 years, without permission of owner, open and notorious in doing so, and exclusively by you. See HERE. You had tacit permission to reside there until it was sold (or planned to be sold). So someone in your situation was not a buyer, but a month to month tenant without a written contract - or at least that is how the Court is likely to see it.

Please note: If I tell you simply what you wish to hear, this would be unfair to you. I need to be honest with you and sometimes this means providing information that is not optimal. Negative ratings are reserved for experts who are rude or for erroneous information. Please rate me on the quality of my information; do not punish me for my honesty.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

(PS my answer above applies even with the benefits you made to the land, I am afraid.)

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok I do have a written contract for the property iniated by seller but no contract for renting?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
You state: "He verbally agreed to sell the property to me, in front of at least one other co-worker."
But then you state: "Ok I do have a written contract for the property iniated by seller but no contract for renting?"
So do you have a written contract promising the property to be sold to you?
Thank you for your clarification, in advance.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Initially he offered to sell it to me verbally, in front of a co worker. He then had his attorney draft a contract. co-worker informed me it was ready for me to sign which I did 2 months agoat the office of his attorney. Contract has closing date of August 15, 2016. But a phone call to attorneys office this morning is when I found out co-worker hasn't signed and so the paperwork was never ordered. Coworker is trustee of the estate for the property I was buying. Attorney was unaware that co-worker was charging me rent and putting it in his pocket and not deposited to the estate.
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
YOU signed the document... but not the TRUSTEE (who controls it).
Correct?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Correct
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. Then, I am afraid my answer stands as is. While in some nuanced situation only the party paying money can sign and the contract would still be binding, in real estate situations, both seller and buyer have to sign a real estate contract. Otherwise, it is not binding. I am sorry.
Thanks again for not shooting the messenger, in advance.
Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello again. This is a courtesy check in to see if you needed anything else in regards ***** ***** question because you never responded or replied positively. I am simply touching base. Let me know. Thanks!