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Pricey Penny: Am I Incorrect to Inform My Mooching Niece She Must Pay Hire?


Pricey Penny,

Lately, we needed to transfer our mother to a nursing dwelling. Previous to the transfer, my niece had moved in along with her. My mother has dementia and isn’t more likely to return to residing at dwelling. 

The niece was residing rent-free when Mother was right here. She remains to be staying right here and nonetheless not paying. She is unemployed however has been getting unemployment. She has been there since final September. Mother went to the nursing dwelling in February.

My brother is the sturdy energy of lawyer and answerable for bills. We hope to hold onto the home. There are some financial savings to pay for the nursing dwelling for a couple of years. When the financial savings are gone, we could have no selection however to promote the home.

My niece was paying a roommate a considerable sum earlier than she moved in with Mother. She has had many months to save lots of, and her bills are low since she pays no hire or utilities. My brother turned off the cable, however the web remains to be on. Plus there are bills for fuel, oil, electrical, property taxes and upkeep. I reside out of state however come again for prolonged visits and work remotely whereas I’m there. I plan to ship a verify for the web, electrical and so forth. to my brother. I normally keep for 3 weeks or so.

Somebody wants to inform the niece she wants to begin paying for a few of the bills. I don’t fairly know methods to deliver it as much as her. After I talked about it to my sister (the niece’s mom’s twin), she appeared indignant that we’d anticipate cash from an unemployed particular person. 

I suppose I want to determine methods to deliver it as much as her. Earlier than Mother went to the nursing dwelling, there was a giant argument as a result of after Mother stated she might transfer in, Mother then determined she didn’t need her right here. After Mother was moved to the nursing dwelling, it was my concept for the niece to have the ability to keep. So, I really feel like I must be the one to inform her the free trip is over.


Pricey L.,

If you supplied to let your niece keep in your mother’s dwelling, you didn’t absolve her of hire for all times. The dialog you’re about to have shouldn’t come as a shock. Observe that I say “shouldn’t” somewhat than “received’t” right here. I think shock is precisely the response you’ll get.

Give it some thought out of your niece’s perspective. After eight months of residing rent-free, why ought to she have completely different expectations for months 9 or 10?

I do assume that since this association was your concept, you have to be a part of this dialog. However as sturdy energy of lawyer, your brother is the one making the choices. So I believe the 2 of you must discuss to your niece collectively.

What’s good is that you simply appear to be feeling average frustration, somewhat than full-blown rage at this level. Don’t let issues attain a boiling level together with your niece. This dialog must occur quickly.

First, discuss together with your brother on what a great consequence appears like. Would you like your niece out altogether? Are you OK along with her staying if she pays for maintenance and utilities, even when she wouldn’t pay hire? Or are you hoping she’ll keep and finally pay hire at honest market worth?

I’m guessing the perfect situation is someplace between the second and third choices. It’s affordable to anticipate her to pay one thing for hire however most likely not what you’d cost a stranger, particularly because you keep on the dwelling from time to time. You and your brother ought to agree on a greenback quantity that she’ll be accountable for and some other duties you want her to tackle.

No matter your splendid consequence, give her a heads-up that this discussion is coming. Schedule a time to speak about methods to deal with bills shifting ahead in order that she doesn’t really feel blindsided.

Attempt to not lecture her about all the cash she ought to have been saving since September. I get your frustrations. However actually, it’s irrelevant at this level.

Maintain the dialog ahead trying. Present your niece what it’s costing to keep up the house and ask her what she will be able to afford to contribute. She’s getting unemployment, so she ought to be capable to kick in one thing, even after groceries and different bills. You’ll be able to provide to assist her make a budget or revamp her resume. However finally, you should set a really clear expectation for what you want from her going ahead.

What I’m hoping is that a bit strain will give your niece some much-needed motivation and that extra excessive measures, like eviction, received’t be needed. Generally a looming deadline forces us to behave.

This can be a tricky dialog. You had good intentions, however now it’s a must to be the unhealthy man. Please don’t child your self by considering this case will change by itself.

Robin Hartill is a licensed monetary planner and a senior author at The Penny Hoarder. Ship your tough cash inquiries to [email protected].