Property I, Pages 374–377

Esteves v. Esteves

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, 2001

Facts:

Plaintiffs and their son, defendant, bought a house in joint tenancy, each paying $10,000. Defendant did some improvements but soon moved out. Plaintiffs continued to live there and paid a total of $61,892 in expenses on the house. After eighteen years, plaintiffs sold the house for $114,453.18.

Procedural History:

Trial court held that defendant was liable for half of his share of expenses, minus the value of the improvements he made, and that plaintiff did not have to pay rent for living there.

Issue:

How are expenses and rent obligation divided between a possessor and non-possessor in joint tenancy?

Plaintiff's Argument:

Defendant should pay for half the house's expenses from the last eighteen years.

Defendant's Argument:

Plaintiff should pay their rent value for the last eighteen years.

Rule/Holding:

A co-owner must pay for his share of expenses, even if he is not occupying the property. An occupier does not have to pay rent to the non-possessor, but such value should be deducted from the non-possessor's expenses.

Judgment:

Reversed and remanded.

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