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How to get house money back

(8 Posts)
Alfieismydog Thu 14-Aug-14 10:08:14

This is long, but I wanted to put everything important down and not drip feed.

I am 40. When I was 17, my grandmother died. She told me she wanted me to inherit her house as my parents would sell it, but she didn't leave it to me in her will, but to my mother, who sold the house.

However, my parents used the money to buy a flat, which they let me live in as a student, rent free. They told me this was 'my' flat from the inheritance money and a good investment for the future. I would have preferred to have kept my grandmother's house as was her wish. I had a strong attachment to it but didn't want to be ungrateful.

My parents kept a key to the flat and dropped in whenever they wanted. I had no privacy. When I spent two months studying abroad, my mother went through my personal papers and threw away letters from an ex in case my then boyfriend found them. I only discovered this when I came back and found personal items missing.

I decided then I didn't want to live in the flat and moved into student accommodation. The flat was in my mother's name and she was going to let it out. My parents extensively refurbished it and intended to use it as a weekend place. They stayed perhaps half a dozen times in ten years and eventually sold it.

In the meantime, I qualified in my profession and had several moves in rented accommodation or in employer provided accommodation, in my early to mid 20s. Moving frequently was part of this professional path and not in any way unusual.

In my mid 20s I met a man who would become DH1. We looked at buying somewhere together and looked at what mortgage we could obtain and afford. My father is an accountant so I also asked his advice.

He then told me I could have my grandmother's money towards a flat. The flat was bought with a combination of DH1 savings, my savings and what I thought was my grandmother's money. My father then said he would 'top up' the rest as an investment as long as I didn't tell either my mother or my DH1. I was to pay him instead of a mortgage. It looked like a good offer. I didn't have much financial nous at the time and I trusted him. I did not tell my DH1 for several years and felt uneasy about pretending we had a mortgage.

A few years later, DH1 and I were married. My DF said he would like to help us buy a bigger home. Same arrangement, he 'invested' quite a lot of money this time and we paid him instead of paying a mortgage. My DH1 still did not know and I thought until very recently that my DM also did not know.

On paper, I owned the house outright and my name was on the title deeds. Some years later, DH1 and I split up, amicably. I wanted DCs and he did not and we both felt if I put the man before the desire to have DCs, I would regret it and resent him. We had a very amicable split and I am remarried with two DCs. DH1 is in a new and stable relationship. We have sporadic contact, unfortunately in recent times at a few mutual friend's funerals and he corroborates my version of what follows.

Before we split, I told DH1 about the financial agreement with my DF. He was surprised I had not told him but took it well. He also said that it was my home, he didn't want me to lose it and just wanted back the initial money he had put into it. I thought this was extremely honourable and I bought him out.

I went to work overseas for a prolonged period. During this time I let out the house. I had put the title deeds for safe keeping in my parent's home in their safe, along with other valuables. They and I called the house 'your house'. By this stage it was apparent that my DM knew of the financial arrangements with DF and had for some time. I felt silly as I hadn't spoken to her about it, as per my agreement with DF, yet she had known all along, it seemed.

While I was overseas, the property management company I had engaged to look after the house and tenants had serious difficulties. They were a husband and wife team. The husband became seriously ill with cancer and the wife wasn't coping. She didn't pay me rent owed and wasn't able to provide financial records as she had done for the previous year. I contacted my DF to say I would be late with payments. He was really lovely about it, told me he didn't need the money, that it was more important that my house was well looked after and that I could keep the rent and invest it.

Sad though their story was, I terminated my arrangement with the managing agents as I was still not being sent rent on time or the correct amounts, repairs were not happening and in short, I felt I was managing the property from 8,000 miles away in another time zone. I flew home to sort several things out including appointing a new management agent. While home, my DF very kindly offered to look after the house and tenants. He has significant experience managing commercial properties and said it would be a 'good project'. He got good tenants, looked after repairs well and was always really upbeat and 'you're welcome' about it.

However, when I then wanted to sell the house, he went from helpful to taking over the process entirely. He even forged my signature on the sale of the house (I wanted to sell it and was appalled he had done this), saying it was necessary as I had 'abandoned' the house and left him with it. His lawyer knew the signature was forged and they did this anyway. I was very shocked and the way my DParents presented it was as if it was inevitable as I was overseas.

The money from the sale of the house has gone into an offshore account controlled by my DF. It is a really complicated arrangement and involves a trust structure I don't know about or understand. This happened in 2010.

Also in 2010, I returned to the UK, expecting to be able to buy a property with the proceeds of the house sale. I would have also either paid my DF money on his investment or paid him back a lump sum. Just before I returned, he stopped referring to the house as 'your house' and started calling it 'my investment property'. He was angry and told me that because of my stupidity DH1 could have 'taken half' of it away. My understanding is that legally DH1 could have had part of the house in the divorce settlement but chose not to. I also think that it is right that when people are married their assets are joined. I am starting to doubt if I am indeed stupid and naive because of what happened next.

Throughout 2010 I looked at different properties to buy. DF found something wrong with all of them, i.e. they were not in the immediate neighbourhood of my DParents. Eventually, I rented somewhere close to my DParents with a view to buying there in time as I couldn't see how I would ever be able to buy a house again otherwise. I felt really stuck.

While in the rented property, I met my now DH2. He is a divorced man and has two DCs who are at university. We also have DD (3) and DD (under 1). I live in his house which he rents at a reduced rate from his employer. He does a specialised job that I cannot go into detail on, but the accommodation is part of his package. He leaves this job at the end of October and we need to find somewhere else to live.

During the past year, since September 2013, I have been looking for a home for us. DF registered with several agents in his choice of neighbourhood for us, the area where I was renting. He offered us a lot more money as that is a very expensive area and tried to find us a house there. We did not want to spend so much on a house that is a big commute from my workplace. I wanted my DD to go to school and nursery close to where I work so I can get home in emergencies and do the school run. My DF said that he and my DM would do that and they want to look after their grandchildren and be near them.

We found a really lovely house and a few other lovely properties in an area we want to live in. It is in the same city as my parents, but the other side of the city so not on their doorstep. My DF accused me of being selfish and not thinking of my children's education. I showed him all the ofsted reports from good local schools and emailed them too him as he wouldn't look at them. He told me he was too busy to read my emails and refused to give me the money back from the house.

When I was pregnant with DD2, things came to a head as I was having sleepless nights over the money and my DH woke up to find me in tears over it all. He told me DF not to upset me and control me and that we don't want additional money, just my inheritance money. My DF and DM are denying there is any inheritance, just their generosity which they are withdrawing because they say I am emotionally unstable. As evidence of this they cite my frequent moves on qualifying, which all others in my position had to do as we had 6 month contracts. I am currently on a 2 year contract so they say I don't have a job in two years. I have never been out of work, but these short contracts are not unusual in the area I work in. I am really successful in my chosen career but they treat me as if I am a delinquent 14 year old. I have no siblings and until I married DH1, I thought this was a normal way of interacting.

For four years I have tried to get my money back through logically presenting places I should be 'allowed' to live. I have failed and I am worried. I can prove I owned the house but I have no idea where the profits from the sale went. Apart from money going out of my bank account to DF, I cannot prove we had an arrangement financially. He is insisting he made an investment decision and could make another one if he thinks it is sound.

I am under a lot of pressure from DH2 to 'get it sorted'. He doesn't want to rent forever and thinks I should be more assertive. When we stood up to DF when I was pregnant he didn't speak to us for 4 months until DD2 was born.

Sorry for a very long story. What are my options legally? Is there any way I can get some of this money back?

Namechangearoonie123 Thu 14-Aug-14 10:15:03

You need to see a solicitor.

Your awful parents have done nothing for you except infantilise you and they are very manipulative.

I don't think you've got much chance of getting the money back unless you have a piece of paper saying it's yours.

Basically they invested their money to benefit from rising prices and probably as some dodgy tax avoidance deal - they have utterly fucked you over.

If the solicitor says there's no chance of you getting the money you will need to find a way to move on without them - they are beyond awful and you have done nothing wrong.

Namechangearoonie123 Thu 14-Aug-14 10:16:51

It's really, really clear they don't want to give you the money. - they are now saying so openly.

I stress again you've done nothing, they probably always had this planned. They think they can tell you how to live and control what you do.

Alfieismydog Thu 14-Aug-14 10:21:45

The thing is, they were willing to give me the money, and a whole lot more too, if I had agreed to live in a specific area. They were viewing and shortlisting houses, telling me how ungrateful I was when I didn't want to live in them and telling me I wanted to live there and had promised.

Thanks for being so blunt though, probably what I needed to hear.

My name was on the house deeds. Is this enough proof or not really?

Namechangearoonie123 Thu 14-Aug-14 10:40:18

I honestly don't know. It's possible that after that it looks like you gave them the money, did you sign anything for him to then hide it in a trust?

You really need to see a solicitor, it's definitely worth it.

I feel so sorry for you, they sound dreadful. I can only hope they'll back down and give you the money.

If it was me (and it's not so feel free to ignore it) I might con them and buy in the area they want, pick anything. Look really subservient. And then when it's in your name sell it and do what you want. If it's really yours they can't do anything.

sunshine999 Thu 14-Aug-14 11:27:54

I have a lot of sympathy for the situation you find yourself in - can't be easy! I had a similar issue about 10 year ago when I used money left to me by a family member when they died to buy a property somewhere my mother was very strongly opposed to. I still remember now how hard that was - and she (thankfully!) didn't have any control over the money it'self.

In your situation I think that I would try and solve the money situation before you purchase anything iyswim.

So, I would sit down and try to work out what belonged to me morally without a shadow of a doubt. So, any money that DH1 invested in the property if you repaid him, any money that you repaid to your father, any savings that you put in etc etc.

Then I would try and do the same to work out what belonged to your father without a shadow of a doubt - ie money he lent to you which you hadn't yet repaid - ie effectively the "mortguage" with him

Then work out what is a grey area - eg anything which was gifts from your parents, increase in value etc. Only you can know what is genuinely confused and what isn't.

Then I would sit down and write an e-mail to your dad explaining that you have decided to put of purchasing for a few months to give you and he a chance to sort out the money stuff before you make any decisions about a property.

Send him the amounts which you have worked out, and ask him to repay now what you are sure is yours and to ask him to make clear to you what his feelings are regarding the grey area stuff. Whatever you send him make sure you would be happy with this being the outcome as the e-mail could be used in the future if you go down a soliciters route.

Slightly sneaky but I would also write in the e-mail that you are sorry that you have been so negative about their house suggestions. Explain that if you are honest you do prefer the area around your parents and you're sorry you've upset them by looking elsewhere. That you are sure that it isn't their intention but that you feel manipulated over the issue with the money which is what is pushing you to look elsewhere because you are so upset about it.

And, so after speaking to DH you would prefer to have your money in an account of your choosing and the issue resolved so that in a few months time you can start house searching hopefully in a much more positive frame of mind. And that at that point you would be really greatful to have some help and support in house choosing, suggestions for properties etc from your parents.

Obviously once the money is in your own account you can then buy what you like. But, you know your parents best. Do you think this would work?

Greengrow Thu 14-Aug-14 13:47:39

The house that was sold was in your name. (I don't think your grandmother's wishes are relevant - she left in a will her money to your mother so that is a bit of a red herring here in law). Your father stuck the money off shore. It might be hard to prove it is your money and find it. That seems to be the bottom line issue.

What about buying the house your father wants you to buy.
Then once it is all registered in your name without him knowing sell it to obtain the proceeds to spend how you like? He will play ball with that as he will feel he is still controlling you and once you have the sale proceeds he cannot stop you doing what you like with them.

Caveats to that - is there money you still owe your father?
Was there what is called a "consent order" or stamped sealed court order on your divorce? If not your first husband even now can come back and claim a share of this money.

twizzleship Fri 15-Aug-14 01:20:55

fuckers! who needs enemies with parents like that?

i would play it sneaky and clever...buy the house in the area of his choosing, all in your name with the informal 'morgage' deal with your dad (the more expensive the better), soon as you've got assets worth the amount of money he stole off you - because that is EXACTLY what he did) then SELL it without telling him.

either that or just cut your losses right now, you've allowed them to control you. i can't believe you let him get away with forging your signature and not transferring the sale monies to you immediately

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