Dear Harry: About 10 years ago, my son and his girlfriend needed a place to live. I bought a house nearby from a neighbor who retired to Florida. My son paid me $300 a month to help me with the mortgage and taxes. My hope was to transfer the title to him when the mortgage was paid off. A couple of years ago, the girlfriend wanted to apply for food stamps for her and their four kids, so she asked me to sign a paper that said that she was paying $300 for the mortgage. My son is on SS disability. Now they have separated and she is living with her parents. She is threatening to force me to sell the house and give half the proceeds to her because of that paper I signed. She contends that she is half-owner because she paid about half the monthly mortgage payments. She also threatened us with a "restraining order" to keep us out of the house. The title is still in my name alone, and so is the mortgage. We think she wants the money to make a down payment on a place of her own. Am I in some sort of hot water because of what I signed?
What Harry says: She sure is a beaut! There was never any intention to transfer any part of the ownership to her. That paper you signed only indicates that she was helping to pay for the mortgage instead of getting the place with a regular rental. By some stretch, it might be interpreted as a lease, but certainly no ownership. Greed is not only prevalent among the very wealthy, but throughout the economic spectrum. *