Building left to husband verbally

Question ID: 28988

When my husband and I got married, we lived in a house with my parents-in-law. Although the house was in my father-in-laws name, my husband did and paid for extensions and renovations to the property, which consisted of a main 3-bedroom house with a 1-room outbuilding and office in the yard. We lived here for about 10 years during which time my parents-in-law moved to another province to stay with my brother-in-law.

After 10 years, my husband and I as well as our 2 children went to stay overseas for about 6 years during which the house was rented out. When we returned to South Africa (now 14 years), my parents-in-law had moved back to this house with my brother in law and his family. We (4 of us) had to stay in the outbuilding and my husband began working from the office. For the sake of family harmony, we did not protest. My parents-in law passed away some time later but before he passed away, my father-in-law transferred the title deeds of the property to my brother-in-law’s name. However, he verbally said that the outbuilding and office belonged to my son.

My husband and I eventually got divorced and he moved out of the property so that my son and I could still live in the outbuilding. He also continued to pay the water-and electricity bills for the entire property to my brother-in law. My daughter was married and living with her husband. My son and I continued to live here. However, we were repeatedly told by my brother-in law’s family that we were living on their property and should move out as they wanted to rent out the outbuilding.

A few months ago, my daughter had a baby. My son and I went to live with her for about 4 months, during which we left many of our possessions in this outbuilding. We regularly went there to fetch things we needed etc and to use our phone. We also repeatedly mentioned that we would be returning. My ex-husband continued to pay the water-and electricity bills to my brother-in law which he took. At the end of 4 months, we went back to the outbuilding only to find that my brother in law had changed the locks on hearing that we were returning there. They swore at us and now refuse to allow us unsupervised entry. When we need anything from the house, we have to be accompanied by my brother in law who opens the house for us and waits while we take whatever we need and then locks up after us. We are being forced to rent a house in the meantime while this matter is resolved.
Please advise if my brother in law is justified in doing this. What is your opinion on this?

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Asked on April 17, 2008 12:00 am
Private answer
Your brother in law is NOT justified in his action because your ex-husband was paying the water and lights bill and he was gladly acceptingthe same. However, we suggest that rent another place and get your ex-husband to pay for that voluntarily.
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Answered on April 17, 2008 12:00 am