Co-owner can force sale of property


October 02, 2005|By JONATHAN A. AZREAL

A few years ago, a relative left a property to her two siblings, half each, so both names are on the deed. Now, one wants to sell the property, but the other does not want to sell. So, the one who wants to sell has asked the other to buy him out. If the one who wants to keep it does not have the money or otherwise refuses to buy, does the one who wants to sell have any recourse?

If the co-owners cannot agree, either can go to court and force a sale of the entire property. The legal action is called a partition suit. The owner who wants to sell brings suit against the other co-owner(s), requesting the court to order a sale of the jointly owned property and to divide the net proceeds among the co-owners. When it is impractical to divide the property, a court usually will order a sale in lieu of dividing the real estate.

Frequently, once a lawsuit is filed, the defending party will work out an agreement with the complaining party to sell the real property at a private sale. A settlement avoids the risks and expenses of a court-ordered auction sale, and leaves the owners with more control over the sale process.

I suggest you contact your attorney to discuss whether a suit for sale in lieu of partition is a proper remedy in your particular case.

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