Dad wants freeloading brother (and ferrets) gone – but how?
September 15, 2019 4:45 PM   Subscribe

My elderly, disabled dad owns a cottage at a secluded lake. It is not his primary home. It’s an investment property he uses for weekend vacations, but keeps mostly closed in the off-season. Unfortunately, it's not available to him because my brother is semi-squatting in it.

Last year, dad begrudgingy consented to let his son/grandson (my brother/nephew) live at the lake due to their financial hardship. No lease/terms were formally settled; dad just verbally acquiesced to my brother’s constant badgering. Dad deeply resents the occupancy, but worries that the lake house is the only thing keeping his son/grandson from homelessness – a fear my brother stokes. Consequently, my brother/nephew live rent free, and my dad pays all of the lake house’s utility bills, insurance fees, maintainence costs, taxes, etc. He asks only that my brother/nephew agree to some simple terms: no smoking, no pets, no overnight guests.

However, Dad’s recently confirmed that my brother has moved in a long-term boyfriend and at least five ferrets. He’s also learned that my brother has made multiple copies of the housekeys to distribute, and has been concealing his boyfriend’s tenancy (and ferrets) for months, and sending the whole group off to hotels when my father comes to visit.

Dad wants human and animal occupants out of the house, but he doesn’t want to “make” his son/grandson homeless. He understands he’s being manipulated, but WILL NOT take legal action against his own child, and especially in a way that would endanger his connection to his grandkid.

So I’ve been enlisted by dad to solve the situation without exploding the family. Lucky me. My solution is to draft a lease that codifies my dad’s terms, and gives my brother until the end of the current school year to find a new place for himself and his son. This maximizes my brother’s chance of finding stable footing, minimizes impact on my nephew, and permits my father use of the house next summer. (I don’t give a ferrets’ collective ass about the boyfriend or animals).

I want to ask about the following particulars:

The cottage has three legal bedrooms. Can I help dad create a lease that allows my brother/nephew two of the bedrooms, while preserving the third for his own use?
Can I add a clause that says my dad doesn’t have to call my brother/nephew and give warning that he’s showing up to his own house?
Can I “ramp up” the rent every few months (starting from just utilities, and ending at a fair market value)?
Can I create a penalty/fine for bringing ferrets into the house?
Can I create a lease with an end date that cannot be renegotiated by either party?

Other details: Father’s disability is progressive. Brother has often tried to assume control of the lake house. In fact, he’s lived in it rent-free on four or five occasions in the last decade.
posted by mr. remy to Human Relations (42 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is there some way you could arrange for him/them to start a lease somewhere else, paid for for a few months -- maybe somewhere that's more attractive in some way but inexpensive? Something that would be a move up for them -- maybe closer to employment -- but where failing to pay the rent wouldn't be between family members?
posted by amtho at 4:53 PM on September 15 [6 favorites]


A lot of the specifics about which you're enquiring are going to depend upon local tenant/owner laws. Are you able to enlist legal help? Because this is full-on-lawyer territory. That doesn't mean you're jumping right to eviction proceedings and family explosion, though! You need to know what sort of tenant rights may already apply to said brother/nephew/boyfriend/ferrets, given their residency, and next you need to know what sort of freedom you have to codify your preferred terms into a proper lease. You could start by contacting any tenant/landlord organizations in your jurisdiction for a free consultation, a referral, or a legal clinic appointment, if you don't want to start by retaining your own personal lawyer, but I'm pretty sure a lawyer is going to be needed eventually.
posted by halation at 5:01 PM on September 15 [6 favorites]


Not a lawyer but I think you can do everything except for #4, the problem is that you have to figure out what the consequences will be when your brother inevitably violated the terms of the lease. So, if the lease says he need to pay rent on the first of month and he doesn't what happens next? Lease says no ferrets and there are ferrets, then what?

Having a written lease will probably help if your Dad gets to place where he is ready to evict your brother so I think it is a good thing. However, you need to be realistic about how much the written details of a lease will impact your brother's behavior.

Amtho's suggestion can be a good way to spend money to create a peaceful change in the living situation - your Dad has be both very clear that continuing to live in the cottage is not an option and be willing to help financially to make the move out happen.
posted by metahawk at 5:01 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]


How old is the grandson? Is he almost on his own or years from that? Man, I don’t know about Dad enlisting daughter/sister to kick out a family member with a kid. I’m sorry that you’re being put in this position. I like the idea of setting him up for success in some other location. Throw money at it seems best option but homelessness is no joke. Especially with a young kid.
posted by amanda at 5:03 PM on September 15 [5 favorites]


I'm a lawyer with an rented property and a tenant I'm not all that thrilled about and I even don't handle my own landlord tenant disputes because that's not the area of law I'm an expert in. Please find a real lawyer familiar with the laws in the jurisdiction where the lake house is to help with this.

Do not start sign a lease or start charging rent until you know for sure whether and how that changes his right to remain in the home. That might make your situation substantially more difficult.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:11 PM on September 15 [22 favorites]


If you want to attempt to do this without a lawyer (and getting screwed out of even a week's worth of rental opportunity on a lake house may be a costlier alternative than paying for a lawyer to draw up a document that does what you want), then you will need to do a little digging into the state's leasing laws, especially as regards access to the property and termination of the lease.

I suspect your father can write into the lease that the 3rd bedroom is not included in the rented property but he may need to also write in stipulations about access through the rented portion with reasonable notice (such as 24 hours). It is more questionable whether it would be legal to write a lease where the tenant waives all right to advance notice for the landlord's entry into the property without advance notice.
Alternatively, you could look at the wording of leases that are designed for situations such as landlords renting out a bedroom in their primary residence, with shared use of the rest of the house, and to consider himself a resident of the lake house even if he's not there most of the time. In such cases the landlord obviously does not need to give notice to enter their own home.

No overnight guests may also not be, strictly speaking, legal as far as tenant law in the state. But it's pretty common to include language that limits the stay of overnight guests to no more than X consecutive days or X days out of a month.

As far as termination of the lease, probably the course of action would be to include language that the landlord can terminate the lease without penalty with X months advance notice (depending on what state law requires) or communicate their desire to not renew the lease X months in advance of the end date for the lease period.

As far as graduated rent...it may be possible to have the rent amount increase over the course of the lease? I've seen leases where the tenant is granted an abatement (not required to pay the monthly rent) for an initial period of the lease and that may be a simpler way to accomplish the same thing--set the monthly rent at X + utilities but, for example, allow the tenant an abatement of rent for the first two months so they only pay the utilities during that period.

You can certainly stipulate no pets (in which case your recourse is eviction if they violate it) or else set up a pet deposit/pet rent if they chose to keep the ferrets there.

It's important to know what the time frames and process is for evicting a tenant for violation of the lease terms, which may be different depending on the nature of the violation (nonpayment of rent, for example).

All, that said, you can write a perfectly legal lease and if you're not willing to legally enforce your rights when they are violated, then the lease will only be worth as much as--as they say--the paper its written on.
posted by drlith at 5:13 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]


but WILL NOT take legal action against his own child

Then it doesn't matter what you put in the lease. It's already been demonstrated that your brother will disregard the rules.

But Nthing that you need a lawyer that deals with leases in your locality rather than advice from the internet.
posted by Candleman at 5:15 PM on September 15 [38 favorites]


Came to say exactly what Candleman just said. If your dad’s not willing to enforce a lease, it doesn’t matter what it says, and your brother knows it. Sure, he’ll sign a lease that says no ferrets if he knows he’s not going to face any consequences for having ferrets. That’s no different than the situation you’re in now.

And landlord/tenant laws are screwy and different wherever you go so whatever you end up doing, you NEED a local lawyer. He’s probably already got some tenant rights, even if he’s not paying rent, so what you can/cannot do may be restricted.
posted by Weeping_angel at 5:19 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]


and has been concealing his boyfriend’s tenancy (and ferrets) for months, and sending the whole group off to hotels when my father comes to visit.


Maybe your dad should visit more often. Weekly, perhaps.
posted by jon1270 at 5:25 PM on September 15 [7 favorites]


Your dad can’t have it both ways. He can’t let your brother walk all over him with no consequences AND get to complain he is being taken advantage of.

So what is your dad getting out of this? It sounds like the connection to his grandkid is the key. Has he considered offering to house the kid/take custody? The homeless father sounds like a bit of a hot mess and might actually be relieved to have less responsibility. If the father is not amiable to giving up custody what supports can be found locally (like welfare) and within your father’s income level (renting an apartment near the school sounds good). Talking to a social worker familiar with your local system would probably be helpful, not just in helping you organize resources but also helping you tease out the dynamics of the family situation (is your brother always the “fuck-up”? Are you always the saviour? Is your father always a “poor-me” victim?)

Your dad has put you in an unwinnable position - when things blow up (and they will, with your dad’s current plan), you will be a convinient fall-guy (for both sides, most likely).
posted by saucysault at 5:28 PM on September 15 [16 favorites]


Start with putting in an exterior camera security system. Might want some cameras hidden. This should change his ability to hide bf.
posted by Sophont at 5:32 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]


Maybe your dad should visit more often. Weekly, perhaps.

"elderly, disabled......Father’s disability is progressive"
posted by thelonius at 5:38 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]


Unless Dad is willing to enforce consequences, brother will continue to take advantage. Is brother a drug/alcohol abuse/ gambler, or engaging in illegal acts? Is nephew safe?

You and Dad should talk to a lawyer, brother may have some legal rights.

I would start by requiring brother to put utility bills in his name, as well as plowing, mowing and any non-critical maintenance. The problem with requiring brother to pay insurance and taxes is that Dad would get the consequences of non-payment, and that's not acceptable. It may be worth it to pay a property manager to collect rent and enforce a reasonable lease. They can be tough where your Dad isn't.

Dad should visit, re-take the best bedroom, put a lock on it, and visit as he chooses, without warning. He can ask anyone to leave who is not approved, and get someone to remove unapproved pets.

To be blunt, brother's being a jerk, stressing Dad. My message to Dad would be: leave the more valuable property to you, and deduct from any inheritance to brother, based on brother helping himself. Crummy situation, hugs to you and Dad.
posted by theora55 at 5:54 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]


Thank you, thank you. Many good responses, lots to thing about. Also, sorry to thread-sit, but I wanted to add that my father is not willing (or able) to help my brother financially. He needs all of his own money for expensive, ongoing medical care. He's been extraordinarily generous to my brother already. In the past few years dad's co-signed brother's leases and given him tens of thousands of dollars for security deposits (all of which which my brother lost due to ferrets, boyfriends, and damage). Conservatively speaking, my father has provided upwards of $50k in free rent. Also: nephew is still in his single-digits.
posted by mr. remy at 5:57 PM on September 15


There's no way out of this other than 1) father paying brother to move; or 2) father selling the house. Every other solution will lead to more strife.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:15 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]


Selling the house could even result in brother moving into father’s primary home unless there’s something else that will keep that from happening.

I agree that if the father isn’t going to take legal action, it doesn’t matter what the lease says. It seems like a social worker for brother’s situation may be the way to go.
posted by FencingGal at 6:51 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]


Or perhaps have your father hire an agency to manage rental of the property, and have them provide a lease for the Tennant?
posted by nickggully at 6:59 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]


I have no idea about the legalities of this but why don’t you tell him the house is going to be uninhabitable due to sewage / power / renovations happening and that he’ll have to move out for a while. Give him an end date that allows him to find other accommodation. Then turn off the power (or whatever) until he leaves. Basically, make the house unliveable but give him a warning that this will be happening. Once he’s out, change the locks. I know this may be ethically and morally dubious, having said that, no more than what the brother is current doing and your dad isn’t careful, he may never get his home back or it may be uninhabitable when he does. Fight fire with fire.
posted by Jubey at 7:24 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]


So basically, your father has no boundaries (tons of money spent, badgered into saying yes, will not take action) and neither do you, because you’ve accepted that it’s your job to solve this for your dad. And you’re hoping that a lease and a deadline will resolve it.

I dunno, man. A lawyer may help you draw up a lease but I don’t think that will help that much.

In your shoes, I would back out of the intermediary role. Your dad knew and knows that your brother has boyfriends and ferrets he is willing to make his son homeless over. I actually think housing an innocent grandchild may be worth the loss of vacation home and presence of boyfriends and ferrets, but if not, your dad can probably call a lawyer and ultimate whoever oversees evictions. There is no reason to assume any other outcome is likely, because your brother apparently has longstanding habits around this. There is no piece of paper or legal incentive greater than providing a good life for one’s child. Your brother isn’t capable of making decent decisions.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:36 PM on September 15 [18 favorites]


It sounds like brother is capable of paying rent (I understand father has put down deposits for other homes but the brother has paid rent and is paying for food etc for son so he has or earns money). So the idea that father is somehow heartless and is making him homeless sounds like a bit of a stretch.

Yes, he won’t be living in THAT home but he will have the capacity to move to another home and has a boyfriend who may be able to contribute too. So far brother has been able to trash houses and move on because father has bailed him out and been the fallback option. I can understand why he doesn’t want to be that anymore and these are reasonable boundaries to have.

The fact that brother has in the past tried to take control of the summer home and is savvy enough to move people out before father gets there.. I don’t think brother is mentally ill, I think he’s prepared to take advantage of an old sick man for as long as possible.
posted by Jubey at 7:55 PM on September 15 [11 favorites]


If your dad is unwilling to take legal action against your brother, a lease doesn’t matter at all. If he breaks the terms of the lease, then what? So what?
posted by katypickle at 8:17 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]


I would talk to an appropriate lawyer about elder abuse laws and start keeping records of your brother’s actions (as directed by lawyer) in preparation for potentially getting the authorities involved yourself.

This situation is either going to result in legal action or your dad (and you, long term) being totally screwed over by your brother, more than he already has. After your dad dies expect this asshole to try to manipulate you for full inheritance of the house or have you on the hook for property taxes, etc., while he lives there and treats it as if you have no ownership. You need him OUT and the longer he stays the harder it will be to get him out.

This isn’t about money, this is about not letting an immoral person get away with it.
posted by D.C. at 8:40 PM on September 15 [9 favorites]


The law is not going to save you here, if your dad won't enforce it. And in general, legal solutions to landlord-tenant issues are the costly, time-consuming approach. This is really about hammering out an agreement with your brother that he'll abide by. That's the lens to look at this through. What will actually get him to leave? Is a lease negotiation the right format for these conversations to take?

If your father isn't willing to bring negative consequences (and I get that -- lawsuits are awful experiences and a huge waste of money), then a practical option might be to bribe your brother. Cash for keys. Your dad can do this without putting in more of his own money by offering to refund portions of the rent at future dates under certain conditions. In this way, he could be ensuring that your brother has a security deposit and first month's rent for his next house.

That says, everyone is right that none of this will work if your brother refuses to abide by the agreement and your dad refuses to enforce it. (I doubt a property management group would get in the middle of a family situation. But maybe? They typically charge ten percent of gross rent.) Also, if you think brother might try to retain tenancy by pulling in a legal aid attorney, then you need someone familiar with local laws to make sure the lease is solid, especially given that he's already living there now. But I'll take some guesses in the interest of actually answering your questions:

The cottage has three legal bedrooms. Can I help dad create a lease that allows my brother/nephew two of the bedrooms, while preserving the third for his own use?

Having leased a bedroom before, I think it's fair game to lease out two bedrooms.

Can I add a clause that says my dad doesn’t have to call my brother/nephew and give warning that he’s showing up to his own house?

I wouldn't put it that way, as most jurisdictions require the landlord to give notice. I'd merge this into a clause about the bedrooms. "Property X is a three bedroom property, of which Mr. Smith is in the habit of using Bedroom 1 for his periodic trips to the lake. This lease serves to allow Mr. Jones and his son Bob to rent Bedroom 2 and Bedroom 3, and to share use of the common spaces such as the kitchen and bedroom with Mr. Smith."

Can I “ramp up” the rent every few months (starting from just utilities, and ending at a fair market value)?

You need to confirm that you're not in a rent control jurisdiction, that there aren't limits on the number of rent increases that can occur in a single year, and that a lease serves as adequate notice. Where I am a landlord, you can do 1 rent increase / year; it must be no greater than inflation unless certain conditions are met; and you have to give 30-60 days notice (though maybe the lease counts as notice).

Can I create a penalty/fine for bringing ferrets into the house?

You could probably establish "pet rent" (unless these are emotional support ferrets). I haven't heard of financial penalties for breaking a lease, but I don't see why you couldn't do that. The wording might matter here.

Can I create a lease with an end date that cannot be renegotiated by either party?

I have no idea on this one. I doubt you could create something your dad couldn't renegotiate. Could you get a 3rd party renter to be moving in on that date?
posted by slidell at 9:00 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]


All these people saying "talk to a lawyer" are missing the part where your dad isn't going to take legal action against his son and small grandson.

The best and only workable idea here is to have your dad announce he's having cameras installed tomorrow because he's concerned about illgal dumping or illegal hunting or whatever. See what this curtails.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:06 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]


Your questions seem to be technical questions about drafting a contract, but what you have on your hands is an emotional family problem. There's so much information missing here. Where is the child's other parent? Is the child going to be attending school? Is it good for him to be living on a secluded lake with an irresponsible parent? How old is the child exactly? Have you tried a family therapist? If not, why not?

I suspect you are taking a dry, legalistic approach because you think that will minimize drama, but what if you considered a different and more emotional angle on this? A mediator?
posted by cranberrymonger at 9:38 PM on September 15 [7 favorites]


I'd start by telling your brother (if you're on speaking terms) that you know about the boyfriend and the ferrets, and your dad does too, so maybe grow up a little and deal with the situation. Road, Damascus, etc.
posted by rhizome at 9:53 PM on September 15 [5 favorites]


All these people saying "talk to a lawyer" are missing the part where your dad isn't going to take legal action against his son and small grandson.

Regardless of that, it's still important to understand the legalities of the local landlord/tenant laws, because there's a very real chance that the brother (or even just the boyfriend) will have to be evicted at some point (even if it's after the father is no longer making the decisions). Paying for an hour or two of qualified advice now will be much better than when the father's health takes a plunge necessitating raising funds or when the estate is in probate and absolutely everything is stressful. The latter is especially important if there is a mortgage on the house, as the bank will generally demand that the balance be paid off or the house sold, which is complicated if the brother and boyfriend have legal rights as tenants.

OP should also make sure that the home owner's insurance policy covers the current situation.

My best suggestion is to try to sell the lake house as quickly as possible. It's a liability rather than an investment at this point and if OP father's health is going to keep it from being a frequent vacation home, regardless of the brother, selling it while there's not a million other stressful things going on is a good idea. Other lake houses can be rented for when his health does allow travel. As long as it remains in the father's possession, the brother will find a way to manipulate the father into allowing him to stay there.

The brother is going to continue to have the boyfriend hang around and ferrets. If the father must continue to support this behavior, it should be via helping get set up renting someplace else again rather than staying in property that will need to be sold at some point. It's not fair to OP but based on the follow-up, it's pretty clear that the brother is set in his irresponsible ways and that the burden of being the responsible one will fall on OP. Mitigating the damage such that the brother's issues becomes a landlord's problem rather than theirs when everything is hard to deal with should be the goal.
posted by Candleman at 10:04 PM on September 15 [14 favorites]


Pay them a lump sum of cash to move out and change the locks.

Don't hand over the cash until they're actually out.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:46 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]


To QFT cranberrymonger's comments above, is your nephew safe? Where is this child's other parent? Are they aware that this is the kid's current living situation? Is he being properly fed, clothed, supervised and cared for? Fuck the ferrets, this is a young minor.

Is your brother "just" manipulative, or does he also dabble in drugs/alcohol? Is his son planted in front of the TV to play video games or does he actually parent him? Does a kid under 10 understand that lakes are intrinsically not places where you can screw around? What is the school situation in a vacation lake community? Whose address is your brother using for bills/mail/school registration?

If your brother has been there for a year, is he taking his son for routine medical care? I know here in NJ, you need physicals/booster updates at regular intervals for school. Otherwise, they ride your ass and start sending letters home until you provide proof of care. Maybe the school needs to know what's going on a Ferretpalooza.

One other thought - are your brother and his BF just sitting around hanging with the ferrets at night or do they go out on the weekends? Who is watching your nephew?

Perhaps framing the discussion from the perspective of your nephew's best interests is the way to go; i.e., get your shit together, stop squatting and be a responsible parent. Or Consequences.
posted by dancinglamb at 11:59 PM on September 15 [6 favorites]


Your brother knows that he can manipulate your father fairly easily and knows that he can leverage his child to avoid consequences. To be blunt, he's pretty sure he can stay there until your father dies, after which he's planning to inherit the cottage as well as a portion of your father's assets. This is his plan. He's confident enough that he's got it on-lock that he's moved in his boyfriend and the ferrets. He's making the bet that your father won't enforce anything and he's confident you won't either. And, if you don't, your brother's plan is very likely to succeed.
posted by quince at 12:49 AM on September 16 [19 favorites]


Adding to quince’s comment above, your father could create some leverage by writing brother out of his will, and offering to put him back in once he moves out. Couple that with a lump sum that will keep them housed for a while and maybe it’s a compelling enough deal. Don’t let your dad co-sign for any cheaper housing for brother; given brother’s record as a tenant, that is surely a liability. Lump sum is much cleaner.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:06 AM on September 16 [2 favorites]


In fact, he’s lived in it rent-free on four or five occasions in the last decade.

What prompted your brother to leave the last 4 or 5 times?
posted by sunflower16 at 1:44 AM on September 16 [8 favorites]


Stupid question maybe but has father ever actually asked brother to leave the house? If so what was the response? This isn’t referred to anywhere. Or is he just assuming that brother won’t move?
posted by Jubey at 2:26 AM on September 16


I feel like people in this thread are being needlessly cavalier about the welfare of the ferrets. While they're not the most important thing, a statement like "screw the ferrets" is not being kind to these animals.

That being said, I agree with quince and qxnt above - the brother is a manipulator and doesn't deserve any leeway on this. Give him notice that you're evicting him within a month or two, maybe with a small lump sum he can use as a security deposit somewhere else. He seems like he can pay rent at other places, so let him learn to stand on his own feet. He's consistently violating your father's trust.

Your dad should also re-write his will by changing the brother's inheritance into a trust for your nephew's education. Otherwise that money will just get squandered.
posted by Spacelegoman at 2:27 AM on September 16 [8 favorites]


If he's moved in and out over the last several years that poor fucking kid has been uprooted over and over. Unless there's some other reason why kid is worse off there, maybe it's worth letting him and his parent stay for the kid's sake. The brother is getting away with something, but it isn't the child's fault. It is indeed possible to do something even if one resents it. The kid's tender brain and life are more important than, well, anything in this question.
posted by Mistress at 2:58 AM on September 16 [2 favorites]


(upon second reading that comes off as harsh - not meant that way! The frustration and powerlessness your dad feels are important. Hence my second suggestion - a therapist can help him unpack his feelings around this situation, and this could be of great benefit to your dad in helping him decide what to do, or at least reducing unnecessary pain around the situation. My heart goes out to you all)
posted by Mistress at 3:18 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]


Agreed that the single-digit kid comes above all else -- the boyfriends, the ferrets, the money, the vacation house, absolutely everything. I think the only thing you can do is some family therapy, but that might be really useful.

It might be different if it wasn't a vacation home, if there was daily abuse of your father, but it is a vacation home and there's no obvious abuse in your question. I think all of this is the cost of a child's well-being -- and that's a cost I'd pay. I'm sorry you're going through this.
posted by heavenknows at 3:26 AM on September 16 [3 favorites]


Does your Dad have all of his affairs in order?
- Medical Power of Attorney;- Financial Power of Attorney;- Will drawn up by an estate lawyer;- Executor who is neutral and responsible in such will.
What would happen if your Dad's illness gets so bad that he cannot make decisions? Are you his POA? Someone else? No one?
This situation may go on until your Dad can no longer legally manage his affairs. If he has not done so already, encourage him to seek out an attorney to get these things in place, as it seems like your brother should not be any of those things and hope he hasn't manipulated Dad into such (or will try to do so in the future, have seen this with people who try to take over just because they are there, they feel they should be the POA and get the parent to agree to that, and put them on bank accounts as joint account holders, etc.).
Because there doesn't seem to be a way for you to solve this issue right now, as it stands. Think consulting an attorney about elder abuse is one way to get information, but are you willing to report your brother for elder abuse if it turns out he is doing so?
My folks had a lake house years ago. One of my brothers was using it as a weekend getaway and bringing his girlfriend and friends there, and leaving it a mess. They were also taking things that they wanted, some were small items like cookbooks, some we never knew about, but they were not taking care of the place, or even doing the dirty dishes when they left, resulting in mice and ants, etc.
My Dad finally sold the place, and then no one had access to it.
At the very least, someone needs to tell the guy Dad can't afford the utilities anymore. Don't think it's legal to live somewhere with a child and no electric or water. The consequences of that might make your brother and the ferret loving boyfriend at least contribute something to the upkeep of the house, while you and Dad figure out what you really want here. He wants the boyfriend and animals out? He wants your brother to start paying rent and utilities? He wants them all out and living on their own, paying their own way? That last scenario seems unlikely, given your brother's track record.
I had a brother who moved in with my parents in oh, 2000, and didn't move out. Dad died in 2014, brother kept living there. Sister was the executor and didn't want to throw him out or make him pay rent. He eventually died, while still living at the family house, which then went back to the bank (due to liens & no estate money to pay for it, as my brother had eaten away at Dad's meager savings and SS money while Dad was still alive).
Does Dad want to go use his lake house? I mean, it's his house, and if I were very ill, I'd love a little R&R for my health. Can you appeal to your brother based on Dad being sick and needing to get away to his own house, without other people squatting there?
You are all adults. You and Dad go to the house and talk to your brother together. Tell him no more boyfriend with ferrets. What is he going to do? His name is not on the title. Point out that if Dad dies, an executor is going to make him pay rent to the estate, at the very least, and might possibly evict him to sell it as a representative of the estate, so he'd better get some other plans in place ASAP. That will give him time to think about it ("hey, I'd better plan for what's going to happen when Dad dies."). This would only work if Dad has the POA's and a solid will in place, the knowledge that there is no way your brother can touch Dad's accounts or assets should Dad become incapacitated. Then you can say, "well, Brother, your time is limited here, rent free, because as soon as Dad gets too ill, [Person] is their POA and there is no way that [Person] is going to continue to let you live here. So I'd straighten up and fly right, if I were you, Brother."
Hope your Dad does have his POA's and will in place, if not, urge him to do so ASAP before anything else, to avoid future financial abuse, because that's what it looks like he is doing now, financially abusing your sick and old father. IANAL.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:54 AM on September 16 [6 favorites]


nthing finding out if there are other relatives who can look after kid . draining finances is elder abuse and my uncle did this to his parents even after he was written out of their wills.
posted by brujita at 7:21 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]


You can also suggest to your father that tne lake cottage be transferred to your name, in fairness because your brother received $50,000 and free rent over the past decade. (Your father would most likely have to give you a year’s worth of utility/taxes/maintenance so you are not out of pocket for doing him this favour). He can structure the transfer so that your father has the right to access the property (such as booking specific vacation use). Then you can tell the brother you will be renting the house out as of the end of the school year so he can plan ahead for other accommodations.

I assume you would be okay with being the heavy and are less likely to be manipulated by your brother. That way, if you are being put in this uncomfortable position by the choices the two of them have made at least you get some compensation from it (assuming the property is worth something and/or you either sell it or want/can afford to keep it). You should seek advice from a lawyer how this may affect your father’s entitlement to various programs however.

Ignoring this problem is not going to make it go away so your father should be taking proactive steps to regaining control of his own life while he still has the health and faculties to do so.
posted by saucysault at 7:34 AM on September 16 [3 favorites]


So I’ve been enlisted by dad to solve the situation without exploding the family.

My dear mr. remy, as others have noted above, that is not possible. You cannot solve the situation because your father is unwilling to take legal action. If he transfers the property to you and you take legal action, the family still gets exploded.

My elderly, disabled, dying slowly dad has a new housemate every time I visit, which is twice a year. Sometimes he gets tired of a housemate and throws them out successfully. Sometimes he is unable to throw them out for months and months because that requires legal action that he does not usually have the attention-span and other abilities required to follow through on the legal action. Usually he prevails by just annoying the hell out of them sufficiently that they give up. (I have considered that option for myself, honestly, but love is a verb, supposedly, so here I am visiting.)

Your dad has exactly two choices and he cannot outsource either of them however hard he might try. 1. He can suck up his unhappiness about having his lake place occupied (but maybe attempt to insist on using one bedroom at will, having someone install a lock on the bedroom to keep it unoccupied, etc.). 2. He can face the possibility of more family drama than he is currently facing and actually take legal action and face the consequences.

Your dad is attempting to outsource his discomfort with reality to you. Do you truly want to tackle this impossible task? I salute your courage and devotion but I do not see how you can possibly pull this off.

Like some other folks, I am extremely concerned about your nephew and his well being. I do not know what the deal is with your brother and I am not going to pretend I do. But new boyfriend, a bunch of animals, and a child sounds like a situation in which the child may well be neglected. Please do not let your understandable desire to help your dad distract you from what may be a potentially harmful situation for his grandson.

Cameras? By all means, if they are legal. I am just so worried about that kid. Apologies if I am overreacting but my siblings were neglected by my dad when they were in single digits and older; it did not turn out well.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:11 PM on September 16 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry your dad and you are in this situation.

Shut off the utilities: the gas, the electricity, the water. If it's a tank of fuel oil, have it pumped out. Remove all the firewood.

Put the place on AirBnB/VRBO and tell them guests are arriving in 3 weeks. Me and my 5 burly bros will be the first to sign up. (3 bedrooms).

Have your dad write brother out of the will, and say that if brother vacates and stays out for 3 years, dad will amend the will to get him back in.

Would any relatives be able to house the kid, offer that if brother clears out.

Putting up security cameras sounds like a great idea. Put in a doorbell with a microphone that can be listened to on your cellphone. Make sure brother knows it's capabilities. Put a smart-speaker on the dinner table. All that stuff may well be destroyed, but it might help. Pay a private security firm (mall cops) to drive by every hour and make a big display of taking photos. Make it not worth brother's while to stay.

Say your dad really needs more income and rent it out to paying renters. (Again, me and my 5 bros). What if people showed up with a U-Haul claiming they're expecting to move in, and your brother has to call your dad, but your dad isn't answering his phone, so brother has to drive to dad's to ask why the place got rented out?
posted by at at 11:04 PM on September 16 [3 favorites]


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