You and the Law – 8th November 2011

House gift

My brother never left home and, when he married, his wife moved in with my mother, too.  My mother has now died without leaving a will, and my brother is saying she gave him the house, and that his name and that of his wife are on the title deeds.  He improved the house a bit and my mother became a tenant in her own home.  Should he pay my sister and I some money for the house?  LS

Not if your mother gave it to him before she died.  It has belonged to your brother and his wife since the date she transferred it into their names, and its ownership isnit affected by her death.  She was entitled to give away anything she owned as she chose, even if you don’t think this was fair.  You are probably entitled to a third share of anything else she owned, since she died without leaving a will, but you can check whether what your brother says is true by looking at the proprietorship register at the Land Registry.

Pet rule broken

My brother owns a flat in a block of eight.  His lease stipulates that no pets are to be kept on the premises, but he has bought a parrot and I know that other residents in the block will complain.  I have tried to persuade him to get rid of it, but he refuses.  What is the worst that can happen?  BG

If the residents complain enough it’s possible that the freeholder or any management company will insist that your brother observes the terms of the lease.  Ultimately the landlord could go to court to try to evict your brother, but this would be a last resort.  The court would be unlikely to allow forfeiture of his lease without first giving him a chance to get rid of the bird.  But he could end up paying any costs of action to make him obey the no-pets rule.

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