Renting to brother. Now having issues

15 Replies

So I have an interesting question: I have a SFH that I'm renting to my brother and his family. He was so excited when I evicted my last tenants a little over a year ago bc he really likes this house and wanted to live there. I gave him a bit of a break on the rent being that he's family n he pays faithfully. Now I'm having 2 problems: I don't know how to tell him that I need to raise the rent even if only $50. The other problem: he has people over every single Sunday. They aren't strangers or no one has complained but it's about 12-15 people each time. Those ppl happen to be my sisters n their kids. I never get invited nor do I care to go if I did but how do I handle this? I only know about the parties because they post all the pictures on Facebook otherwise I wouldn't even know so if it was a stranger who I was renting to I would never know. I don't know what to do

And please don’t tell me the old line “don’t rent to family members’’ as I already know but he was going through something at the time n I meant to help him (my nephew had cancer)

Regarding raising the rent, you just tell him rent is going up and give him whatever notice you’re legally required to give. 

Regarding him having people over, if no one is complaining and you don’t want to be invited, why do you need to do anything? He’s allowed to have people over. 

Hi Maria,

Go visit him in person and:

1. Tell him the rent is going up $50.

2. Ask him why you never get invited (either you will get invited from now on or will at least know why).

Good Luck!

Just be straight with him. Tell him you need to increase the rent slightly but it will be a good bit under market price.

Have you tried liking his FB pictures so that he knows that you know? Or even add a comment "glad you guys are having a good time", or something similar?

Clearly you are shying away from notifying him about raising the rent. Maybe because he’s your brother and you don’t know how he will take it, or you think it might spoil the relationship you have with him — I can empathize with you.

 Given the circumstances, I would suggest you either notify him via text or Email — whichever way you typically communicate with him more frequently. 

Let him know that the extra money is to offset inflation, wear and tear along with rising taxes. Keep the text brief and friendly. 

As for the ‘excessive’ family gatherings at your house: you have no control over it. If neighbors aren’t complaining, he has the right to have people over. It seems you might - deep down inside - be a little upset about this, but understand that for whatever reason they prefer you not attend. Keep this transaction with him strictly business. 

To your success!

Originally posted by @Scott Mac :

Hi Maria,

Go visit him in person and:

1. Tell him the rent is going up $50.

2. Ask him why you never get invited (either you will get invited from now on or will at least know why).

Good Luck!

Mostly agreed... the biggest hurdle most of us have is the fear of rejection and unfavorable opinions. I understand he's family,  but my answer number 1 is to phrase it in a way that you would if he wasn't your brother.  It will command respect. Respect us harder to earn then adoration.  As for number 2. While he's partying, work on yourself and your future.  Bring it up if you want, or sit down and read the Richest Man in Babylon. (Don't know why i thought of it but something in your post reminded me of  Sharru Nada)

Thank u guys for ur replies! I will contact him tomorrow and tell him.

Believe me when I tell u my reason for all parties have absolutely nothing to do with me feeling left out. I took myself out a while ago for personal reasons (that would have to be another post lol) I’m just aggravated at all the parties bc each one of my siblings own a house n none of them want ppl over bc of the infamous “cesspool “

@Maria Marrero you can’t say you don’t care about these parties every Sunday and then post a long thread complaining about said parties lol.

Why is the party even an issue? Are they wrecking the place or something? If they’re not violating the lease what’s the problem?

Just tell him you’re raising the rent. Follow your local laws.

And even though you don’t want to hear it: don’t rent to family members, this will only end badly

@Maria Marrero this is not a problem with Rent but relationship issue.

First of all, you're not invited to family gathering, why? That's the major question. Maybe because it's your house you're renting to your family member and they expect you to rent it cheaper?

To make it even worse, if you increase the rent - you'll be seen as a crook, if you don't - you still won't win.

Even if you sell the house - your brother will see it as retaliation that you're not welcome in his house.

There is much more to this story you don't tell, and I get it's too personal. But that's the root of the problem, not lower rent.

ok so seems like this has turned into 'she's trying to raise the rent bc she's not invited to the parties' so I guess I will take a few minutes and make this clear: I don't have time to go to a party every Sunday or even one Sunday per month.  The reason they no longer invite me is because I never went when they did ask me to, because its my only day off and I cant spend it sitting around drinking beers. Its not only to their parties that I don't go, if my other sister has a party at her house I don't go to those either.  I like my day off, once in a while I would send my kids to the party if its one of my nieces/nephews parties but I cant see myself being in the same house weekly.  The other thing I did not mention is: when he had his own house he NEVER wanted people over because he would say it was too much wear on the house not to mention the beloved cesspool.

Now to give a little background on the raise: I am renting to them below value by about $300-400/month. I haven't raised the rent in 2 years because they take really good care of the house overall, never charged them when they got a dog [and didn't even ask me for permission], never charge extra when another person spends 3 months there [my brother's mother in law spends the summer], never said anything about the pool they put in the yard because I really dont care about those things since this is family & I know that my bother would never do me wrong [the wife might lol]. So I was just feeling bad because its weird to raise the rent but I think I've been fair enough so far but taxes & insurance do go up every year & I feel that I am already renting super low - for a 4 br SFH they pay $1300.

So I called him early, only told him $40 because he started the conversation with: You have to see the pantry, I added shelves to it & fixed a hole that was behind it... As if I wasn't feeling bad enough, I almost didnt even tell him at that point because I felt so guilty but somehow I was strong enough & told him the rent was going up $40 - He immediately said 'WHY' and I told him listen insurance/taxes went up for the last 2 years & I have been taking the loss but I cant take the loss alone anymore.  He wasn't happy & the conversation ended shortly after but I did what I needed to do.  Should he decide he wants to move, I can rent this house so fast for like $1600-1800 easily! and yes I know, got it: NEVER RENT TO FAMILY AGAIN...

@Maria Marrero

Even if it is $40, you still were able to do it and get it closer to market rent and decrease the amount out of your pocket.  I'm sure you appreciate that he's taking good care of the house and doing small improvements, but as you said your costs are going up and you shouldn't be expected to supplement his living there.  

When you renew the lease, make it part of the lease.  Give him numbers.  Ie if your insurance has gone up $400 over the 3 years and your taxes $500, use those.  As hard as it is, treat him the same as you do your other tenants.  Tell him it is hard for you to talk about this the same way you would with another tenant, but the reality is you are losing money because the costs of the house aren't covered by the rent which is $300-400 below market value and if you don't raise the rent to offset the losses, you will need to sell the house or rent it to someone else at market value which is $1800.

@Maria Marrero

Maria, I sympathize with your situation but you should look at this situation from another angle. If the market rents are in the 1600-1800/month range then I’m sure your brother is aware of the low rent that he’s receiving. For him to ask the question ‘but why’ to a $40/ month increase ( which is $1.33/ day... a cost of one of those beers he drinks) shows that he has no consideration of your financial responsibilities and/or no appreciation of the low rent benefits that you’ve been giving him. I would put in his head that he should think about relocating in the near future (make up any excuse you want) as it’s not going to be any easier to raise the rent next year and it’s just not worth straining a families relationship for 40 bucks a month.

If this was a challenging situation for you then you may want to think about getting a property manager who will do the ‘dirty work’ for you and get market rents. Family or no family your rental property is a business and you must decide whether to run a business or a charity. Again, I sympathize with you on this as I’ve been on a similar situation.

@Erick M. I love your answer so much, it actually warmed up my heart, Thank You!  You see it saddens me to see how he doesnt see this at all.  I am to blame for giving him such a low rent but as you could understand, he was going through so much at the time my nephew had cancer & I too was burned out from the current tenants who lived there for 5 years and I ended up having to evict them.  He knows I can rent that house for even more than $1800 because of the location but he would never admit to it.  They love this house and when I had the last tenants there they would always ask me to rent it to them but I kept telling them I had those people there.  I know he doesnt think of me at all [I am a single parent of 2 doing my best & pulling from every direction I can to move up in the world].  I dont think I was unreasonable with a $40 increase.  The deal was we were going to help each other out [I give him low rent, he would take care of anything that went wrong in the house] however when things have gone wrong I still get the call and I have been having to pay for the parts but he does the labor so I am appreciative although there hasnt been that many wrong things [thank God].  I almost wish he would move but I am sure he wont find a big place like this for what he's paying but we'll see.  


Another way to think of this situation is that you are subsidizing your brother and his family.  Kind of acting like a charity, but without the great tax benefits.  If you could easily rent this house back out for $1800/month, then you are shorting yourself and your own family an extra $400/month.  Each and every month.

And if you're good with that, that's fine.  But it sounds like you aren't and are pretty resentful.  I don't blame you.  I love my sister and her family but no way would they be getting $400/month of my money to help support themselves, lol.  Plus, it sounds like you started renting to them when they were on hard times and maybe that's not as much the situation anymore.  

At any rate, if you decide you want to close that rent gap more, I'd have a "come to Jesus" talk with them.  Show them the numbers.  Tell them you can't subsidize them for this much money anymore.  Decide on your timeline.  Like raising the rent another $100 6 months from now and another $100 one year later. 

Ugh, this puts such a sour taste in my mouth... I get that he's family, but he is clearly using you. He was in all likelihood ecstatic with the rent increase. Why? Because he's probably been expecting one for a while, and no longer has to "look over his shoulder" for the increase now. He threw a hissy fit over it just for a show and probably hung up the phone and bragged to whoever was around.

Even if that didn't happen, he is still CLEARLY using you. I would be firm, treat it as any other rental. Tell him going forward to field ALL repairs and ALL requests (dog, pool, stripper pole, you name it) to you BEFORE any work is performed. In return, you will be moving the rent up to market rents. Offer to do it over a period of time to "help him transition". And if he doesn't agree to that, then offer him the current rent for 6 months while he finds a place that is more in line with his budget.

As for the parties? treat it as any other tenant. I hope you did a walk through inspection before. And if these parties caused any damage then take it out of his deposit.

Just reiterate that this is not personal, it's a business. And if he wants to continue to be a customer of your business then he needs to realize that it isn't a charity house.