If my sister, my brother and I own the house that our father left us when he died and my brother lives there, how do we get him out?

My brother has been living in the house for about 10 years for free, except for paying utilities. Now he has ceased paying the utilities and the city is threatening to put liens against both my sister’s home and mine. There is no water or electricity on at the house and he still lives there. What can we do to force him to leave so that we can clean and get the house ready to sell? My brother does not work or have any other income. He is not disabled other than laziness.

Asked on August 31, 2014 under Real Estate Law, Florida


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for the situation. As owners you all have equal rights to the home.  You should speak with a lawyer about bringing an action for "partition" which asks the court to split the asset between owners.  There are certain criteria that must be met (generally it has to be a financial burden to the owners requesting partition).  In the case of a house the court usually orders the asset sold and the proceeds distributed.  Good luck.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If your brother is an owner of the house, you can't force him out of the home--he has as much right to be there as you. What you can do is sell the home. If he resists the sale, as he likely will from what you write, you go to court and get a court order (which you'll likely get: not only do 2 of 3 owners want to sell, but selling property and distributing the proceeds is how courts commonly deal with situations where the owners disagree about what to do with property) directing the sale. The order can also require him to cooperate in getting the property ready for sale. You should consult with a real estate attorney about the situation. Good luck.

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