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How do I tackle this? Help please.

(62 Posts)
chicken Sun 15-Apr-18 16:25:35

Here's a bit of background information first. My OH and I live in a large house in an expensive part of the country and the house is divided in two, one part for OH and me and the other part for DD ,SiL and family of grown-up children. OH is going downhill, especially in the memory department and I am beginning to have to take over more and more administration responsibilities. While finding out about the finances, which my OH has previously dealt with, I was horrified to discover that OH has, for the several years that DD and family have lived here, paid all the household bills for the entire house i.e. council tax, electricity, water and sewage bills, heating oil and building insurance. The only contribution from them has been that they pay the telephone bill. We gave them the half of the house legally ( foolishly), they both work, albeit in not highly paid jobs, and they spent the proceeds of the sale of their previous house on a holiday home in France. I feel that we are subsidising their way of life and that, in effect, they are using us and sponging off us. I want to stop this and ensure that they start to pay their rightful share of the bills but know that this is almost sure to cause an almighty row. OH is of the " Anything for a quiet life" brigade but I resent the thought that we (I) scrimped and scraped and went without all our working lives and , although we live comfortably, there is little spare . I shan't say anything to them yet (too angry) but would welcome any advice as to how to tackle this situation. Remember, we are living in the same house, and OH and I are both over 80.

wildswan16 Sun 15-Apr-18 16:35:48

That's dreadful chicken. I think you are sensible to wait until you have come down off the ceiling, but you must speak to them about it. Just say to your DD that you will no longer be able to subsidise them to the tune of £x thousands a year and will no longer be paying their council tax, electric, or insurance. Cancel the appropriate direct debit or standing order payments straight away.

Don't justify yourself - keep repeating that you cannot do it any more and it's time they stood on their own two feet.

Situpstraight Sun 15-Apr-18 16:40:21

No wonder you are so angry, but Wildswan has a good point, wait until you are calm.

Don’t forget it isn’t their fault that your DH let them live there for free! I don’t suppose they put up much of a fight but still, why would they refuse ?

The only problem I can foresee is if your DH told them that they would always live that way, however, you must tell them that times have changed and they have to contribute right away.

mumofmadboys Sun 15-Apr-18 16:41:48

Could you suggest they take over some of the other bills as well as the phone bill so it is more equitably split? Tell them you are running low on funds and need to make it fairer. Do you have other children? Well done on waiting till you calm down.

jenpax Sun 15-Apr-18 16:44:39

Have you discussed this with your OH or is his memory now too bad to do this? What was the agreement when they moved in and you signed over their half? Are the utility supplies separated off into different accounts or is there one for the whole house? You could contact the council and ask for bills to include their names as well or for the property to be reassessed as individual dwellings that way they will receive their own council tax bill! Once you have all the back ground I would try talking to them and say that you are sure that this was not their intention but it looks like you are paying all their bills! You could do this in a calm and factual manner. You need to try to make sure (before broaching the subject) that this is not something your OH agreed to as it will come as a nasty surprise to them that you are changing the arrangements now😳

Eglantine21 Sun 15-Apr-18 17:03:47

Yes, give yourself a day or so to get over the shock.

Don’t assume there will be a row. If you do you will give out defensive vibes or even enter into the discussion a bit aggressively.

I wouldn’t say “look what I have found out. It isn’t right”.
I would let them think I always knew but that now times have changed. Something along the lines of “You know darling, it’s lovely to have you living so close and we’ve always been happy to pay the bills, but I’m afraid our money just doesn’t cover them any more.”

It was an arrangement that was probably very helpful to them when they had a whole family to support and lots of grandparents help out then. There’s a whole other thread about that! They probably think you’re still ok with the arrangement unless you say otherwise.

But everything is subject to change. You may need to pay for some care in the home in the not too distant future.

Do you have any other reason, apart from thoughtlessness, to assume they will cut up rough?

chicken Sun 15-Apr-18 17:07:20

When they first moved here, they were unable to sell their house and so had very little money at the time and I think that was why OH stumped up, but there was no agreement that this was going to be a permanent arrangement. As for making the house into two separate dwellings for Council Tax, that would increase the bill by hundreds of pounds. The utilities are not separate --- one boiler, one oil supply, one electricity supply, one water supply. one sewer, so no possibility of separate bills. OH can't remember what he had for lunch so there's no recall of what he might or might not have said many years ago!

Situpstraight Sun 15-Apr-18 17:12:13

It sounds as though you will have to get your calculator out and work out how much they will have to contribute,might be an idea to do it before you speak to them?

How have you gifted half of the house to them? Is it 2 separate homes? I don’t understand how you can do that but you still have all the utilities under your name, especially as they had the money to buy a holiday home.

My concern is that they will say that they can’t afford it and then you will be upset and it will end badly.

Luckygirl Sun 15-Apr-18 17:13:12

Eglantine is right of course. And so are you to wait and calm down a bit first!

It may be that the arrangement was one your OH offered and there is no question of them sponging or taking anyone for a ride. So hopefully no need to feel angry. Now that their own children are adults, presumably their outgoings are less, and they are getting contribution from their own AC.

If your OH is able discuss it with you, then that would have to be the first port of call, but if you are the one who will be having to make the books balance in the future then I think you should discuss it with your family next door and try to do so in a non-accusatory or angry way - I think Eglantine has the right approach above.

Good luck with all this, and with caring for your OH.

Nanabilly Sun 15-Apr-18 17:38:14

Oh dear what a shock that must be !!!
Firstly I would make doubly sure that they have not been paying even a little something to your husband. Maybe cash payments and it's been swallowed up in the way that ready cash seemś to be.

Secondly try to find out if your husband told them you knew about it and it was agreed by the both of you that you would cover the bills , is he a big softee?

I hope you have a good relationship and can talk to them openly as it will make the conversation easier .
Is the holiday home in France in joint names too . Do you get to use it ?
Seems a tad selfish if you don't.
Good idea to wait until you have calmed down before opening dialogue to sort it out .If I were you I would spend the next day or 2 making notes of questions you need answers to so you don't have to keep going back to them with yet another question.
Good luck I think it's maybe going to be a bumpy road to travel but it will be worth it in the end as you can't afford to carry on doing that for the foreseeable future.

Bridgeit Sun 15-Apr-18 18:21:49

I think you need to be up front & straight forward , tell them that from now on they will have to pay a percentage of said bills. Decide in advance if you think it should be a half, a quarter or a third what ever, ( any contribution would be better than none) They should have no reason to be upset by this , you have already be more than accommodating.

Elizabeth1 Sun 15-Apr-18 18:34:53

I suggest you find out first of all if in fact you are paying all the utility bills etc. Make sure you’re not receiving any contribution for these bills. I would then have the necessary coversation and give them a notice period that you need them to contribute half after all they have half the house. You could say you’re now planning another stage in your life where you may need additional income to supplement any potential and future care needs etc. It’ll be hard for you to broach this subject but I would imagine your family will possibly have this at the back of their minds and it shouldn’t be such a shock to them. Good luck.flowers

Fennel Sun 15-Apr-18 18:55:56

At your time of life (we're nearly at that stage) why not tell your family that you're thinking of downsizing and want to sell. The house sounds as if it would be valuable enough for your share to cover a smaller place.
You would need to get legal advice on how to do this if half the house is legally gifted to them.

Grannyknot Sun 15-Apr-18 19:08:31

I think people will often resist paying for something that they've had for free for years, so I think you have to be firm and assertive.

I'd describe (give the facts) about how it's been without making a judgement, then say that the arrangements are to be different in the future (no need to say why) and from when...

Good luck.

Grannyknot Sun 15-Apr-18 19:09:55

From when it will change, I mean. In other words give them a bit of notice of when the new agreement will be implemented.

seacliff Sun 15-Apr-18 19:10:05

Hi Chicken, I'm sure you're doing the right thing by waiting until you're calmer before talking to them. Your OH sounds as if he's been very generous in the past, perhaps he didn't like to ask them for money after the initial time. And of course they never offered which was not very good of them.

Whatever has happened in the past, you don't want a big family upset now if possible, especially as your OH isn't in great health.

I think you have to calmly say you've been checking the finances as you now have to deal with all this. Say you are in a worse financial situation than you realised, and can no longer pay their half of all bills.

Tell them how much it all amounts to. I would ask for a monthly direct debit from them to you for at least half the council tax and water rates, as these figures are known 12 month ahead. Then either they pay half of every other months bill, or you get a second meter installed and divide the house up.

I don't suppose they will like it, but tough. They've been very very lucky for some years.

What happens if you wanted to sell your part of the house?

lemongrove Sun 15-Apr-18 20:47:46

What a dilemma chicken but you have to have this out with your DH, and then talk sensibly about it to the AC telling them you didn’t realise what had been happening and you now can’t afford to keep it up, much as you would like to ( even if that’s not exactly true.)Hopefully they will see this is only fair.

Charleygirl Sun 15-Apr-18 20:50:09

If they tell you that they are still short of money you could suggest that they sell the holiday home in France because to me that is a luxury, especially as they are paying for next to nothing.

Nannarose Sun 15-Apr-18 21:37:01

I completely agree that you need to leave this a few days. I am somewhat astonished that you didn't know about this, which suggests that you did not have an overall view of your finances until now.

I would suggest considering the following:
how much help do you get (or can expect ) from them? Upsetting them may disrupt the relationship when you can ill afford it.
Consider exactly, in day-to-day terms what you mean by 'comfortably' and 'little to spare'. How will this change if/when you have to pay for your DH's care, and how will your finances change on his death?
How may this impact on your grandchildren?
Are there other children to consider?
How are your wills worded?

You appear to have left the financial decisions to your DH (apologies if I have misunderstood) - that to me means tacit agreement with his decisions. All couples divide such chores between them, but it does mean you go along with what the other one does / has done. Now may not be the time to change something that should have been discussed some years ago.

How much can you discuss this with your DH now? Even if his memory is poor and he can't grasp details, he may still have a good idea about why he made that decision.

I suggest that when you feel able to have a good conversation, you set out to your family what your financial concerns are. I have a feeling that they may be more amenable to 'now I have to think about Dad's care...' rather than 'I disagree with what Dad did, it's going to change now I'm in charge!'. But of course, you will know the best approach. Then ask them to think about what they think would be reasonable.

I do hope it can be resolved.

Grammaretto Sun 15-Apr-18 22:28:27

We shared a house with my DM for a number of years and divided the bills because although we had separate boilers we had only one meter so I understand that the bills can be a bit guesswork.
I hope we were fair to her. Circumstances do change and you will always need to reassess your needs.
Life is expensive when you are bringing up children and relatively easier when you are older.and have all you need.
Are your DD and SIL helping you with decision making now that DH is too old I wonder. If not, could they?
I hope this tricky situation is resolved without rows.

Harris27 Mon 16-Apr-18 10:42:03

I think this needs to be addressed calmly and firmly. You should not have to pay for their lives but until you address this nothing will be resolved.Good luck and I wish you well.

radicalnan Mon 16-Apr-18 10:43:25

I had a similar situation with my dad and it became a legal minefield and family disaster. People who have had something for nothing are loathe to relinquish that. He had shared house with my sister, paid half of everything while her children were small, when they were all grown up, he was a pensioner subsidising 5 well paid adults by paying half their bills.

It ended very badly for all concerned and the legal costs of resolving things were astronomical.

You may get a council tax exemption for part of the property if it falls within a granny annexe arrangement.

I would approach it from the point of view that if care becomes an issue everyone needs to know where they stand financially.

Coconut Mon 16-Apr-18 10:50:39

Yes, a calm chat saying that you had no idea that you were paying for all the bills, and explain your financial situation and concerns. As Fennel suggested, say that you may have to sell the property as you cannot sustain the situation. I so hope that you have a good relationship with them, that this will not develop into a row .... if so, stay calm and reiterate that this in not all about them, your feelings and needs are of equal importance. Maybe they could now reciprocate and take over all the bills and help you out, as they will have been fully aware that you have paid all of theirs. Good luck ..

Legs55 Mon 16-Apr-18 10:55:49

One question crosses my mind, what happens if house has to be sold? Is there a legal agreement gifting half the house to them? Whose name is on the deeds?

This is going to need careful handlingflowers

Kittycat Mon 16-Apr-18 11:02:42

My husband surggestions you ask Age Uk for help to sort this out.