Friday, November 6, 2009

Greedy Daughter Post -- Cont'd

In my prior post, I wrote, "I told my sister that ... if she [buys a rental property and rents to our parents], SHE will have to be the one to take care of our parents when there's an emergency. I should not be looked upon to care for my parents, especially if I'm not getting any money from parents." Some of you thought this was callous and cold, but also gave me the benefit of the doubt. So I guess some background information is in order.

My sister gets transferred around the country quite frequently by her employer. And by the nature of the work she does, she rarely gets to live in big cities. She often has to live in the ex-burbs (i.e., the sticks) where the closest airport may be about a 30 to 50 mile drive away. Over the past 10 years, she's lived in Maryland, Washington, Alabama and Texas. She is now moving to Arizona. I, on the other hand, have stayed put in San Diego for the past 9 years.

My sister has a strong personality and, in my opinion, is often not very empathetic. In some ways, she may just be more honest and upfront about airing her frustrations about our parents to their face than I. (I just rant and rave about them on my blog behind their backs. So perhaps I'm just two-faced.) My mom once confided in me that she often finds being alone with my sister a bit "unpleasant."

My parents have really never had any real emergencies in the past that required any significant assistance from my sister or me. But I know that my parents are now at an age where emergencies will arise, whether it's health related or financial. I also know that I'll probably be the one that gets the first call for assistance. Will I ever tell my parents to take a hike if they pay rent to my sister? Of course not.

I guess I made the comment to put my sister on notice that she can't use distance or inconvenience as an excuse to lay the lion's share of my parent's care on me. I especially feel this is true if her mortgage is going to be subsidized by our parents.

But some of the comments I received were enlightening. It never occurred to me that the landlord-renter relationship may not be as easy as I think it is. This would especially be true if my parents defaulted on their rent. (After all, they almost stiffed me in the past during financially tough times.) I guess I could also see friction arising if there are any disagreements about maintenance and upkeep of the property.

Bottomline is, family is family and fighting over money is really self-defeating and pointless.



Upon further reflection, I guess this was just a tangential rant about a more deep-seated fear of mine - - when and how much will I have to care for my parents in their old age?

9 comments:

Money Beagle said...

Great follow up post. Best of luck and let us know how things go one way or another!

Miss M said...

There is often a lot more to the story than can be told in a few hundred words, stories about family would take a lifetime to explain! This could be mutually beneficial to your parents and sister, or a disaster waiting to happen. At this point it's hard to judge, you can only point out some of the potential problems they'll encounter if they decide to do it and let them make up their own minds. Family is frustrating!

Sallie's Niece said...

I generally think family and money shouldn't mix, despite the fact that having your parents as renters sounds like a good idea. But I think it's about time you and your sister talk to your parents about the future and their expectations of both of you. I know that being the only one of my siblings living away from my parents (now) that some problems could arise for us in the future but my family (hopefully) still has some time to work it out.

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Nicky at Not My Mother said...

I'm a new reader and haven't been through your archives but I thought I'd comment on this. My husband and I are on the other side of this situation: a few years ago when his parents were struggling financially we bought their house from them to help them out. The mortgage was costing them too much but the rent for that house in the area was manageable. So now we rent to them.

Now, I don't know the housing market where you are but the point is where we are, it costs us more to own the house than is covered by their rent. It depends on the interest rate, obviously, but last year when rates were high (we are in Australia) it was costing us $600 PER MONTH to keep them there. Sure we could claim some of that back on tax (again, different to your situation) but it still hurt. It also didn't help that the reason they were in this position was because they basically financed his brother in law's business - and when the marriage broke up he defaulted on them. Meanwhile both his sisters still use his parents as unpaid childminders several times a week even though they're struggling.

So from our point of view, we actually think we've done our bit and future *financial* aid should come from his sisters. We've done all we can. We may feel differently about non-financial aid, as long as the sisters aren't taking advantage anymore.

Sorry for the long comment. To sum up, like you said already, don't assume the landlord/tennant relationship is an easy one, and maybe also don't assume she's necessarily coming out ahead on this. But also: DON'T let yourself be the only one taking care of them in the future! :-)

Nicky at Not My Mother said...

Oh gosh, how could there be anything I left out of that last comment? But I also wanted to say: we feel very stuck having this house with them living in it. You can't exactly turf them out of the family home very easily. So it was a large burden on us last year, and now we're starting our own family and will have less money coming in I'm afraid of what will happen in the future. Whereas with a non-family tenant, you don't feel that obligation or guilt.

YMMV. Sorry again :-)

Ms. MoneyChat said...

hmm, as an only child i can't really relate but it was a great discussion.

Donna Freedman said...

Family stuff is never easy. Take a few deep breaths, then feel free to SCREEEEEAMMMMMMM if you need to.
Now: Here's what I think. You should clarify it to your sister that you will NOT be the unpaid helper to the absentee landlord. If your mom calls and says "the garbage disposal won't work," you need to tell her, "Gosh, better call sis to ask her which plumber she prefers."
(Actually, what you should do first is tell her to press the reset button underneath the unit. And if that doesn't work, try an allen wrench in the socket in the middle of the bottom of the unit.)
Seriously, though: Make sure that landlord sis has a list of handymen/plumbers/HVAC companies/etc. and that she gives it to your parents. It is not, *not* *NOT* your job to make calls to get estimates. That is the LANDLORD'S job. The fact that the landlord is their daughter doesn't matter.
They are accustomed to calling on you for help. Naturally, if your mom was sick you'd stop in and see if there was anything you could do, or if your dad needed help doing the Christmas shopping you'd pitch in.
But do NOT allow yourself to be your sister's unpaid gofer. That way madness lies. If she really needs somebody to do it, tell her your usual rate is $20 an hour but the friends-and-family discount is $18 an hour. Then ask for a retainer, because she'd probably find a way NOT to pay you.
Okay, now *I* sound cold.

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