Dear Penny: How Do I Kick Out My 32-Year-Old Daughter After 2 Years?

A mother and daughter have a disagreement.
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Dear Penny,

I have a 32-year-old daughter who seems to think that it’s OK to not pay rent or be a contributing adult while living with me. I have told her many times that she has to move out, and then she asks for time to get her finances together. That was two years ago. 

She has become a drain and a strain because she is not helping me in any way. I'm on a fixed income. I love her, but I have grown not to like her. Any advice would be appreciated.

-L.

Dear L.,

Most of us don’t make big changes when life is going great. So make life uncomfortable for your daughter.

Set a hard deadline for when your daughter needs to be out. Make sure it’s realistic. She’ll need enough money for first month’s rent and a security deposit, plus utilities and basic furnishings. But it shouldn’t be too far out in the future.

If your daughter is working, three months’ notice seems reasonable. If she’s not working, you’ll need to set the deadline a bit further out. But as a condition of temporarily extending her living arrangement, she’s required to apply for a minimum number of jobs each week.

Dear Penny

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Assuming your daughter has a job, you can tell her that she needs to pay rent if she wants to stay for the next few months. Require her to set up automatic transfers so that part of her paycheck automatically goes to you. Save the transfers in a separate bank account so that it’s there for her when the move-out deadline arrives.

After you give your daughter her deadline, tell her you’ll be checking in for weekly status updates. Ask her about what steps she’s taken to find a new place, obtain employment, etc.

I’m not sure what your daughter means when she says she wants to get her finances together. But if she needs guidance, a good place to start is by checking her credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. She should see any debts she has listed there — but if there are accounts she doesn’t recognize or errors, she’ll want to dispute the information now in case a future landlord checks her credit.

If she has debt, she should set up automatic transfers for at least the minimum amount. Savings is also a crucial component of getting your financial life in order. You’re going to help her out there by requiring “rent” payments.

As long as your daughter is living with you, don’t cook for her or clean up after her. You can also set house rules, like no friends over after a certain hour. The goal is to make growing up more appealing than living with you forever.

If your daughter outright refuses to leave, you may have to escalate things. You could talk to an attorney about how you can legally evict her. Of course, you should go this route only if all else has failed, as evicting your daughter will have lasting damage on your relationship.

Some parents also go the “cash for keys” route of giving their kids money to leave. I don’t know if you can afford to part with the cash your daughter would need to move into an apartment. But if the goal is to get her out of your hair, the financial sting could be worth it.

Again, I’d recommend this only if you’re out of options. Paying your daughter to leave your house won’t help her build strong finances in the long term. Plus, you’ll have to stand firm and tell her no should she run into trouble and ask to move in again.

If your daughter were 22, I’d advocate for a gentler approach. But your daughter is 32. She’s had a free ride for two years. Perhaps being treated like a child will motivate her to start acting like an adult.

Once you finally get your finances in order, you want to keep them that way. Here are several moves to make now.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].