Can a minority interest owner in a property be forced to sell by the majority?

There are 3 people who each inherited a 1/3 interest in a piece of property. Now, 2 of the 3 owners want to sell. Since they are in the majority, can they force the 3rd party to ‘go along’ with them and sell the property?

Asked on August 30, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Colorado


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

When owners of jointly held property cannot agree on ownership matters, such as whether or not to sell, the law allows "partition". This is a legal remedy that entails going to court before a judge who will order a division of the property if practical. If not, they will order that it be sold and the proceeds distributed equitably. If the event of such a forced sale, the court will allow any owner who wishes to retain the propety the right of "first refusal". This means that they can offer to buy out the party or parties who want to sell, for fair market value before offering it to the public for sale. That having been said, a partition action can be a costly and time-consuming process. Accordingly, at this point, you may want to go over all of this with the party who refuses to sell. It's quite possible after being informed of all things, they will be more agreeable to working things out without the necessity of court action.

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