What is the best course of action to settle a co-purchased property dispute?

I am currently a co-purchaser of a property that I would like to take my name off.
Due to a change of personal circumstances, only the other purchaser currently
occupies the property but has refused to buy out my portion of the equity when
previously asked. As of recent, he has informed me that he is willing to buy but
will not be able to do so until after New Years. To be sure that he follows
through and does not push things off for later dates, I intend on drawing up a
legal agreement documenting a deadline, agreed price and understanding of
actions I would take if he later backs out. My dilemma lies with what would my
actions have to be if he should back out, or refuse to even sign the document.

Asked on October 14, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) If he signs the agreement, it is a contract: you could sue him for "breach of contract" if he does not comply, seeking either a court order compelling him to go forward with the transaction or for some appropriate amount (e.g. related to losses or costs this causes you) of monetary compensation.
2) If he refuses to sign, you may bring what is traditionally called an action "for partition," though your state may have a different name for it. This is a legal action (lawsuit) brought in chancery court (a part of country court which deals with claims for something other than for money and/or what is known as "equitable" relief) in which you ask the court for an order compelling that the property be sold (in a court mandated or supervised sale) and the proceeds (after paying the cost of sale and paying off any mortgages, liens, etc.) be divided between the owners. This is the law's remedy when the co-owners of property cannot agree as to what to do with it: to order the sale, so they can each get their share of the value and go their separate ways. The lawsuit could be voluntarily settled or resolved by the other owner agreeing then to buy you out at a mutually agreed-upon price. This is a procedurally complex lawsuit, compared to those (e.g. small claims cases) typically brought by non-lawyers; you would be strongly advised to retain an attorney to help you.


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