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Occupation Rent: What is it and who gets it?

From time to time our clients ask us about occupation rent. Occupation rent can be owed by one co-owner of a property to the other if the other is forced out and denied enjoyment of the property. Think of it like the co-owner enjoying occupation of the home paying the other co-owner some amount of rent for that exclusive enjoyment. 

However, occupation rent is rarely ordered in family law disputes. The first reason is that occupation rent is a discretionary remedy normally only available as a shield to a claim by the occupant to share in expenses. The second reason is that the complexities of family law (are children also residing in the home? does somebody owe the other spousal support and/or child support? who is paying the mortgage – if any – and who then benefits from the increased equity created by those payments?) are such that occupation rent is rarely appropriate. Or if it is, it is merely a factor in considering support obligations and who gets what from the equity in the family home.

A court may instead say that the person living in the home must pay all the expenses but get the benefit of any equity created by the mortgage payments they make. Or a court may temporarily or otherwise reduce the spousal support obligation, if any, of the spouse who moved out on the basis that they faced increased costs associated with moving out. 

While we look for every way to benefit our clients, we will encourage you to focus on the big picture, and not the minutia of every obscure remedy possibly available. In family law, courts are rarely impressed by technical legal arguments, and are much more concerned with equitably sharing the fruits of the parties’ relationship and the consequences of its dissolution.

Your situation is unique, and we are here to help you navigate it. Schedule a consult with one of our lawyers to learn more about how occupation rent may impact you.