Interested in your thoughts about a little tough love

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    Jun 13, 2011 12:43 AM GMT
    Here's the situation: My spouse's daughter and her kids live in a house that my spouse and I own. We bought the house for her to live in at a time in her life when she was struggling to go to school and make ends meet. She has never paid us anything for rent, and this wasn't a problem initially. In the ensuing 10 year period, she's graduated from college, landed a reasonable job, and got married to a mistake of a guy who she's in the process of divorcing currently. She still doesn't pay rent to live in the house.

    The problem: I'm closer in age to her than I am to my spouse. So, I socialize with her occasionally, and I am witness to a lot of things that she does that she doesn't want my spouse to know about. I've only told him a few things that were critical, but mostly I've kept my mouth shut, until recently. I went over to her house because the air conditioning stopped working. I was pretty stunned when I walked into the house and discovered that she's on her way to being a hoarder. Moreso, I also discovered that she's made some changes to the house that I don't approve of. I was really upset that she has spent money to buy new appliances and threw out the old ones. She hasn't paid rent, but she bought new appliances!

    The tough love part
    : I had to escort an HVAC guy around the house to estimate the new system that has to be installed. I was really embarassed because of the mess, and I decided to take pictures. I showed the pictures to my spouse and told him that we can't continue on this path. So, I've pushed him now to seriously consider how we're going to get out of this situation because it needs correction soon.

    Okay, so here's the question for you -- what would you do? How would you resolve this in a way that's positive for everyone -- without ruining the relationship and trust, and without totally messing her up for the future? I'm interested in hearing your point of view and how you'd proceed.
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    Jun 13, 2011 12:46 AM GMT
    she should be paying rent if she has a job and if she's hoarding she has an issue causing that behavior. as someone from a house full of semi hoarders, i think they're clinging to something as an insecurity and/or not cleaning as a way of avoiding themselves, their past, and any self maintenance.
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    Jun 13, 2011 12:53 AM GMT
    It's time to end her free ride and you both have to be on the same page. If she's working she can afford to pay you something even if that amount is less than rent for a similar house in a similar location. She should also be paying all the utilities and those should be in her name, not yours. As for making changes to your house.. not without express permission. Treat that house as a rental property only that you're giving her a break on the actual rent if you can afford to do so. That's fair imho
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    Jun 13, 2011 1:04 AM GMT
    I know it's too late to say this, but I would never have agreed to buy the house for the daughter to live in to begin with. The more sensible approach would have been to let her move in with you two temporarily. Sure, it would have been somewhat of a hassle for everyone. But that just creates an incentive for her to improve her financial situation and move out ASAP.

    But now, it looks like you two have spoiled her. And it looks like the hoarding is a sign of some mental issue she's going through. She's become dependent on others to take care of her, and will probably marry the next-available-guy who will also treat her poorly.

    I think you should tell her that you can't afford to keep the house. She can either start paying rent, or find a place of her own. I mean, were you guys planning to let her live there forever, rent free? Or were you expecting some guy to marry her and take her off your hands? I hope you weren't counting on the latter. Because I'm sure any next-available-guy would love to live in a house where someone else was paying for the rent. Time to end this now.
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    Jun 13, 2011 1:07 AM GMT
    Kick her out and move me in. I'd love to have free rent and utilities for a few years.
  • 24hourguy

    Posts: 364

    Jun 13, 2011 3:15 AM GMT
    .....it sounds kind of like money (rent) isn't so much the issue.....but the fact that she is not taking care of the place is. If it is an option, could you guys just sign it over to her or sell it to her for a really reasonable price and just be relieved of responsibility and burden?
  • chgobuzz1

    Posts: 155

    Jun 13, 2011 5:03 AM GMT
    My thought would be to do one thing more since you done so much. Help her get the help she needs before you take her house away from her or pile that responsibility on her when she can least handle it. But be aggressive and thorough. If you just give her the house she will not be able to handle it and end up ruining it with more hoarding.

    Usually a low sense of self-worth is the root cause of poor husband choices and buying stuff to fill a void, taken to an extreme in this case. That will take time to fix but can be fixed if she is willing to do the work and sees a need to do the work.
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    Jun 13, 2011 6:13 AM GMT
    sell the house and move on. Seems too late to correct anything....you decided to tolerate it for too long...not her problem! Any attempt to lay down rules will result in conflict!
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    Jun 13, 2011 7:31 AM GMT
    Well its his daughter, so why doesnt he just do what any parent does and step in?
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    Jun 13, 2011 8:59 AM GMT
    If I was the Father, I doubt I would kick her out on the streets without an interim period for her to really attempt to sort her life out.

    I would however rent out the other rooms in the house and make sure she has the smallest one, it's only fair.

    She may need professional help regarding the semi-hoarding and other life choices she has been making, or the lack thereof. Her agreeing to see somebody to help improve her outlook and behavior, perhaps paid for via the rent from the new housemates, could be the condition for her staying in the house, as opposed to it being sold from under her feet.

    I'd get short term lodgers to move in and share the house and maintenance with her. I bet she will want the house back all to herself as soon as possible, and to do so she would have to pay rent, so now there is an incentive to do so.icon_cool.gif
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    Jun 13, 2011 9:15 AM GMT
    Thanks for the responses so far.

    I agree with everyone who said she should pay rent. She's been working for three years, and there is always a reason not to do this. My spouse usually caves in when he gets push back from her, and it's frustrating. It didn't get under my skin until I saw the new appliances, and then I wondered why she had money for that when she didn't pay rent. Money isn't really the issue here, except that it is symbolic.

    The option to sell the house is certainly something that I considered. That would solve at least one problem, but it creates a bunch more. Living at my house isn't an option because it's too small. Giving her the house is not an option. It's still an investment property, whether it's being taken care of or not. It would be a huge $$$ loss to give it away. Of course, letting her continue to hoard stuff could result in a huge loss too.

    Everyone missed the fact that she has kids as well. I don't want to see them in a situation where they could be exposed to health hazards in the house. I also don't want to see the kids out on the street. So, that is a factor.

    We don't have a bad relationship with this woman, btw. I enjoy doing stuff with her and the kids. This is just something that's gnawing at me, and I'm trying to find a positive outcome.
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    Jun 13, 2011 9:23 AM GMT
    She really should have a lease, even if it said that she had to pay $1/year while she was going to school. It would have saved you and your spouse all the headaches.
    Instead, now you're holding back from telling your spouse bad things that his daughter is up to and he might not be upfront with what he wants to do about the house and his daughter with you. Now you could have a talk with your spouse about what he plans to do with the house and his daughter. He might not want to do anything. You two might want to sit down with his daughter and work out a lease-purchase plan with her.
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    Jun 13, 2011 10:54 AM GMT
    Ermine saidShe really should have a lease, even if it said that she had to pay $1/year while she was going to school. It would have saved you and your spouse all the headaches.
    Instead, now you're holding back from telling your spouse bad things that his daughter is up to and he might not be upfront with what he wants to do about the house and his daughter with you. Now you could have a talk with your spouse about what he plans to do with the house and his daughter. He might not want to do anything. You two might want to sit down with his daughter and work out a lease-purchase plan with her.


    She does have a lease, and it would be easy to say that she didn't uphold her end of it and she's out. That would be a simple, legal way to handle it, and no one would ever argue about the decision making process.

    I like your suggestion for a lease-purchase option. That's definitely something that I have been exploring.
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    Jun 13, 2011 11:08 AM GMT
    I guess what I am hearing is that there at alot of excuses for her that would put her in a difficult situation. However, there is concern on your part as to the care and maintenance of the house. It seems like this could be a dog chasing it's tail story until you, the owners of the house, decide what you need to happen and how much rent you want to see. Once that is decided, it sounds like you can implement it, maybe compromise with her a little, and then release yourself from the outcome. You aren't responsible for her hardships, but are you enabling her to keep from taking care of herself? Might explain some of the hoarding?
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    Jun 13, 2011 11:46 AM GMT
    paulflexes saidKick her out and move me in. I'd love to have free rent and utilities for a few years.


    Paul, we'd find other ways to make up for your rent. icon_wink.gif
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    Jun 13, 2011 11:58 AM GMT
    kevinap saidI guess what I am hearing is that there at alot of excuses for her that would put her in a difficult situation. However, there is concern on your part as to the care and maintenance of the house. It seems like this could be a dog chasing it's tail story until you, the owners of the house, decide what you need to happen and how much rent you want to see. Once that is decided, it sounds like you can implement it, maybe compromise with her a little, and then release yourself from the outcome. You aren't responsible for her hardships, but are you enabling her to keep from taking care of herself? Might explain some of the hoarding?


    This is an excellent observation. Yes, I am concerned about care for the house and also for the kids. In addition, we could very easily create a hardship for her. I'd rather find a positive way forward because she is a part of my family, and I assume she'll continue to be a part in the future.

    I didn't think about the possibility of being her enabler. That's something to consider.
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    Jun 13, 2011 12:02 PM GMT
    chgobuzz1 saidMy thought would be to do one thing more since you done so much. Help her get the help she needs before you take her house away from her or pile that responsibility on her when she can least handle it. But be aggressive and thorough. If you just give her the house she will not be able to handle it and end up ruining it with more hoarding.

    Usually a low sense of self-worth is the root cause of poor husband choices and buying stuff to fill a void, taken to an extreme in this case. That will take time to fix but can be fixed if she is willing to do the work and sees a need to do the work.


    I agree with your assessment. Given the combination of what you're suggesting and also what kevinap suggested, any ideas about the kind of resource we should be looking for?
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    Jun 14, 2011 7:23 AM GMT
    Having been involved with an addict of sorts, I somewhat consider hoarding as an addiction within itself. From everything I've learned about addictions, what we do in a normal response to most situations is exactly the wrong thing to do for an addict. I guess this may seem extreme, but my belief is that when you learn about the extremes of any situation, you're prepared for everything in between.

    The thing is, you can't control what is going on with her. You can only set boundaries for yourself and your rental property. In doing so, you must recognize that there will always be "push back". That is something you can't cave in to. When you and your partner decide what is best for the house and that it is now time for you to receive rent, then pursue that in a fair and respectful manner and release yourself from the outcome. Know that the boundaries of business and family have been crossed and not by you. She has definitely taken advantage of the situation and why wouldn't she? Release yourself from trying to teach lessons and stick to the business. You want rent and you want the house to be free from clutter that could consume your investment. Those are your rights. Once a decision is made, you must never ever ever cave in to her needs again......trust me, she will push them.

    you could check out al-anon or an online group through yahoo to gain more perspective on addictions or hoarding. I've lucked out being involved in a couple of really amazing groups that provided a wealth of information and knowledge.

    best of luck.
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    Jun 14, 2011 8:35 AM GMT
    If this house is a business venture between you and your partner in effect you're paying her rent by allowing her to not pay any. Did I get this right you guys are paying her utilities also? Commercial property taxes? Wow. I have to believe your partner may have given her the money to buy the new appliances, and told her "don't worry I'll take care of you" This whole thing doesn't sound good to me. You probably need to tread lightly but stand your ground on this. Your partner...her dad...is never going to let anything happen to his baby and grand kids. If she won't sign a lease to you guys, you may want to ask your partner if he will buy out your half of the house. Or maybe trade his half of another property to you on this one. By you guys not setting up rules on the house you have allowed her to be irresponsible. hope for the best and plan for the worst. I guess those are my tough love thoughts on this. Good Luck
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    Jun 14, 2011 9:28 AM GMT
    Well she isn't your kid so technically she isn't your problem. If you see some shady stuff going on that you don't approve of then by all means inform the father and let him handle it as any good parent would and should in this situation. By saying nothing and trying to be the "friend" you cause a problem. Other then that there really isn't much you can do.

    This is a rather delicate situation since it involves your spouse's kid who is pretty much the same age (or pretty close to it) as you meaning you have no room to tell her what she can or can't do with the house. The one thing you don't want to do in this case is cause problems between a father and his kid. You've already made the mistake of pampering her by buying her a house so technically she can with it whatever she wants. It sounds like you didn't set any ground rules and as you clearly stated you never expected her to pay rent. That was your bad to begin with so in her mind she is gonna feel like she's done nothing wrong and, sadly, she hasn't. It's her house and she can do whatever she wants.You and your spouse have only yourselves to blame on this one. I mean she has lived there for 10 years and you are just now gonna say something about it? Not a good way to start things off and if you really wanted something done about her behavior and changes to the house then you would've said something a few years earlier. Something like this doesn't just happen in a day meaning you had to of known what was going on beforehand and decided not to say anything. Again your bad.

    I say let her fit the bill for air condition and then if her situation with hoarding is that serious then have an intervention. Other then that you have no jurisdiction since she is a grown woman and not some kid and more importantly she isn't YOUR kid so let the father take that role and let him deal with daughters action. Only get involved if he asks for assistance or if the situation requires you take matters into your own hands.

    Lesson learned I hope.