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I Jointly Own Property, and the Other Owner Refuses to Sell

J. Eric LeVine, ESQ. April 18, 2022

Real estate disputes often arise when one of the co-owners of a jointly-owned property (any property held in the name of two or more parties) is willing to sell while the other co-owner is refusing to sell. In a situation like this, taking a partition action may be required to divide the property and proceed with the real estate sale. An experienced California real estate law attorney can explore your legal options to resolve the real estate dispute and help you navigate key decisions.Attorney concepts and laws related to real estate.

At J. Eric LeVine, ESQ., I’m committed to offering knowledgeable legal guidance and reliable advocacy to clients in real estate matters, including selling jointly-owned property. I’m available to discuss your unique circumstances and help you understand your different legal options to divide the property and proceed with the sale. My firm proudly serves clients in Laguna Hills, California, and throughout Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.

What Happens When One Person Won’t Sell

A home or property is one of the biggest assets any individual can own. However, co-owning a property with another person can result in several situations that may lead to potential disputes. The co-owners may disagree over usage rights, improvements, maintenance, taxes, as well as a property sale.

If two or more persons own a property, selling such property won’t be possible without the approval of the other owners. Some common situations where one person may refuse to sell include:

  • A divorced couple who jointly owned a marital home

  • Friends or business partners who purchased or invested in the property ownership together

  • Family members who inherited real or personal property

When this happens, the co-owner who is willing to sell can file a partition action to divide the property or force the sale of the jointly-owned property.

What Is a Partition Action?

A partition action can be described as a legal action taken by a property owner to divide a real or personal property between or among two or more co-owners. Under California law, co-owners of real property, including tenants in common, tenants by entirety, and joint tenants, can file a partition action.

Types of Partition Actions

The different types of partition actions in California include:

Partition in Kind – Partition in Kind requires the court to divide the land by its proportional value. This only applies to properties involving acreages, such as undeveloped lands or rural properties.

Partition by Appraisal – Partition by Appraisal allows one or more co-owners to purchase the other owner’s interest at a value determined through a court-ordered evaluation.

Partition by Sale – Partition by Sale allows a co-owner of real property to force the sale of the whole property even if the other co-owner isn’t willing to approve the sale.

Partition by Judgment – Partition by Judgment allows the court to divide the jointly-owned property based on the evidence presented by the co-owners.

A knowledgeable real estate attorney can enlighten you about the advantages and drawbacks of each partition action, determine which is right for your unique situation, and walk you through the partition process.

The Partition Process

In a partition action, every party who has an interest or claim in the property, including owners, lenders, lienholders, and future estates holders, will be named. Here are some of the steps involved in the partition process:

  • File a partition complaint in court.

  • Serve the complaint on all named defendants.

  • Proceed to a court trial (there is no right to a jury trial).

  • The judge will render a decision to determine the interests of each party and the manner of partition.

  • Also, the presiding judge will appoint a referee to oversee the partition process and make necessary recommendations.

An experienced attorney can help file your partition action, guide you through the partition process from start to finish, represent you diligently during the court trial, and help divide the proceeds fairly.

Working With a Skilled Real Estate Attorney

In the event that one of the co-owners refuses to sell the property, petitioning a partition action may be necessary to divide the property between or among the co-owners. A skilled real estate attorney can enlighten you about the various partition options and determine the best course of action.

For over 40 years, I have devoted my career to handling complex real estate matters involving the division and sale of jointly-owned property. As your legal counsel, I can help you understand the various types of partitions and help you decide the right option that best fits your unique needs. Also, I will work intelligently to protect your legal rights, help file the partition action in court, and ensure a smooth real estate transaction.

Contact my firm – J. Eric LeVine, ESQ. – today to schedule a simple case assessment. I can offer you the brilliant advocacy and detailed legal counsel you need to navigate crucial decisions when dividing or selling a co-owned property. My firm proudly serves clients in Laguna Hills, California, and throughout Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.