Landlord/tenant opinions requested

I say “opinions” instead of “advice” because I well know I can’t ask for legal advice from a message board for a host of reasons. Anyway, here’s the scenario:

My mother and I jointly own some property, which includes her residence. A granchild of hers (one of my nephews) also lives there.

My brother lives in a mobile home on the property, with his wife, three children (daughter, 24; son, 20; daughter, 15), and the older daughter’s one-year-old.

They have no lease or contract or anything. My deceased father offered to let them set up there.

Now, the situations:

There have been some instances of vandalism, which my mother and nephew think were the result of actions by my brother’s son.

A dog was apparently stolen, which might have been done by the older daughter’s BF (the father of her child). He is a crack-head, and has spent some time as guests of the taxpayer for various B&E, and other thefts to support his habit. There’s no question that the dog turned up missing a few hours after a visit from the BF.

In both cases, I think it’s very plausible that a) the nephew does vandalize (has vandalized) when no one’s around, and b) the daughter and the bf stole the dog to sell it (rednecks are really into “registered” pit bulls).

In both cases, however, there’s never been enough proof to take it to court.

So. . . .

In general (I know MMWV), what are:

my brother’s rights, so far his residency? (Can he make a claim on the property based on the past 14 years his home has been located there?)

his son’s rights? (If he is incontrovertibly found vandalizing, can he alone be served with an eviction notice?)

his daughter’s BF’s rights? (I don’t trust the crack-head, whether he stole the dog (and possibly other stuff) or not, but he does have rights to see his child, I presume? I’d personally prefer him not to set foot on the property.)

I know I need a local expert before deciding anything “actionable,” but I wouldn’t mind having a heads-up on what to expect should the need to pursue it further arise.

Impossible situation.

Why exactly is a 20 year man vandalizing on the property he lives on? Most vandals at least have the decency to vandalize out of their living space.

Re the crackhead BF and the daughter that’s just bad news all the way around.

Unless your brother’s occupancy is provided for in the will or some other document 14 years is typically (in most areas) not long enough to make some form of workable adverse possession argument. You realy need a lawyer for this one.

Real world, unless your brother gets the 20 and 24 year old out of there it sounds like your property is going to be a nexus of white trash bad behavior for some time to come. You need to get them off property, no other solution will do. Overall, this can’t be the first time his kids have gotten in trouble, how proactive has your bother been about handling these situations in the past?

Some links for SC Landlord-Tenant law

In skimming through the SC statutes it appears your bother is essentially a “tenant at will” and without a written lease or agreement of some kind effectively has a month to month tenancy, or at most a year’s tenancy, if he can substantiate that there was an oral agreement of some kind to let him live there.

IMO trying to pry the 20 year old and the 24 year old (with baby) off the property is going to be an impossible task. They’re either all going to go or none will go.

Just some observations and things to think about:

the oral agreement that your brother could live there was with your dad, who is now deceased; that contract ended with your dad’s death. Does the brother pay rent to you and your mom? Since there is no written lease, if you want him (or any of the individual adults living there) to leave, give them thirty days notice, then if they’re still there, go see the local magistrate - they evict people all the time and can help you with the process. The 20 yo son is an adult. Whether or not he is vandalizing your property, he can be evicted. Be aware – there will undoubtedly be a fight. What do you want to do?

How is it you and Mom own the property and Bro does not? Did your dad have a will to that effect? If he died intestate (no will), Bro may has a statutory claim to a portion of the estate. (Depending on his age at his father’s death, he may have a claim even if Dad had a will).

Since he’s living on the property with your permission, Bro cannot claim adverse possession because it has a “hostile” element, which permission precludes.

However, depending on the length of time he’s lived there after Dad’s death, he may claim ratification of the agreement (you took up the agreement), or maybe promissory estoppel (Dad made a promise to Bro that he could stay there and Bro relied on that promise to his detriment), and laches (and you waited to long to kick him out). Timing is everything.

Re: drug addict bf - does he have an order of the court granting visitation? If not, then no, has no right to see the child. A landowner can keep anyone she wants to off her property. Even if he has visitation ordered, he can see the child away from your property.

This is a huge familial mess. Would it be possible for Bro to buy out your share so you don’t have to worry about it anymore?

Bottom line: No matter how it turns out, there will be hard feelings. Figure out exactly what it is you want to accomplish, then, if you want things changed, go get yourself a lawyer.

Thanks for the info. Just let me clear up a few points:

Not his own home, but tool shed, the chicken coops beside my parents’ home, and my uncle’s (who lives a 5-minute walk away) riding lawn mower, possibly the riding lawn mower I bought for my mother and nephew. He’s only been caught with my uncle’s lawn mower, not with the one I bought–but it has had a number of weird non-grass-cutting related maladies. A number of my father’s tools have been found in our pond when the water level dropped–and he has had a reputation for throwing other kids’ bicycles in the pond when they ticked him off. So far as why–I think it’s a combination of a)revenge and b)he can because no one will tell him “no.” My (25-year-old) nephew who lives with my mother always picked on him when he was younger. Now he’s all grown up, and maybe it’s his way of picking back. And no one (not his mother, my brother, or my mother) seems to want to take any disciplinary action.

No rent, and no contribution to property taxes.

I said “brother.” Legally, he’s my half-brother from my mother’s previous marriage. However, my father did die intestate, which under SC law gave my mother a half interest in the property, and the remaining half to my younger sister and me. I bought out her share.

In the same respect, his two older “children” are step-children from his wife’s previous marriage.

Deciphering trees in rural Dixie is not for the faint of heart.

Not that I’m aware of. I made that assumption based on the fact that he hasn’t had any court order forbidding visitation.

No, but I wish he could. He’s always managed to stay a step or two in front of the repo man–but only a step or two. But even if he could, I won’t sell so long as my mother is alive.