Forcing co-owner who isn’t paying anything to sign a quit claim

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Forcing co-owner who isn’t paying anything to sign a quit claim

My girlfriend at the time and I bought a house 2.5 years ago. She was in Canada and I am in the US. She gifted me half of the downpayment and is listed as a co-owner on the deed. We agreed to 50/50 sharing of costs with the intent she would find work and/or move to the US with me asap. The move never happened and she never looked for work. We’ve since broken up. She’s never paid for any upkeep, maintenance, taxes, insurance or mortgage. What are my rights as a co-owner left with 100 of the costs not 50?

Asked on April 25, 2018 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You cannot force her to sign a quitclaim deed: you have no legal right to make her give her ownership interest to you.
All you can do--that is, the recourse which the law provides to you--is to file a type of legal action traditionally called an action "for partition," though your state may have a different name for it. This is a legal action in which you seek a court order compelling that the property be sold to a third party and that the proceeds (if any), after paying the cost of the legal action and sale, and also paying off the mortgage, be divided among the owners. In this legal action, you can ask the court to take cognizance of how much each owner paid (e.g. her gift to you of the downpayment; the monthly amounts you have paid since then) and make allowance or adjustment in how much each owner (you and her) get after the costs and mortgage are paid. But the sale is a fair market value sale; you can't force her to give you here share or interest.
If you are interested in exploring this option, consult with a real estate attorney.
 


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