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CONTRACTS 7: In the absence of a written agreement, plaintiff was not entitled to the house.

This case involves a dispute over the ownership of a multi-unit home located (the house). In January 2010, plaintiff and defendant began living together as a couple, and on December 21, 2011, the parties’ daughter was born. On December 26, 2012, defendant purchased the house; according to plaintiff, she provided the funds for the purchase of the house, but the couple agreed to title the house in defendant’s name alone upon the advice of the real estate agent.

The reason for this is disputed; plaintiff testified that she wanted to receive favorable tax treatment by declaring another property as her principal residence, and she believed that defendant could receive favorable tax treatment by declaring the house to be his principal residence. She testified that she believed that the owner had to live in the house for one year before renting it to qualify for the tax exemption, and for that reason, she and defendant agreed that the property would be titled in his name initially, then after one year he would convey the property to her.

By contrast, defendant testified that plaintiff was reluctant to title the house in her own name because she feared deportation. In any event, the parties do not dispute that they intentionally titled the house in defendant’s name alone.

Defendant testified that the parties discussed that future real estate purchases might be titled in plaintiff’s name or in both their names, but that he did not agree to convey the house to plaintiff.

In January 2016, defendant moved out and plaintiff continued to live in the unit with the parties’ daughter. Defendant thereafter mailed to plaintiff a Notice to Quit, directing plaintiff to vacate the house. Plaintiff then filed a complaint to quiet title.

At the conclusion of the bench trial, the trial court noted that the conflicting evidence regarding who paid for the house was not pertinent to the outcome of the case because plaintiff had not demonstrated the existence of a contract.

The trial court held that in the absence of a written agreement, plaintiff was not entitled to have the house conveyed to her because an oral agreement to transfer the house was barred by the statute of frauds. The trial court entered an order dismissing plaintiff’s claim for quiet title to the house and dismissing defendant’s counterclaim.

Are you involved in a real estate dispute in Michigan? Are you seeking an efficient and effective resolution to a property litigation matter?

To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced real estate litigation attorneys, contact our law office in Plymouth, Michigan.

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