Can a co-owner be forced to pay his/her share of the bills on a house?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can a co-owner be forced to pay his/her share of the bills on a house?

My 3 siblings and myself each own a 25% interest in my late mother’s house. It was signed over to us well before her death and she had life use of the house. Now that she has passed 1 of my siblings is refusing all contact with the 3 of us and through her attorney has only agreed to reimburse us for all the expenses associated with the house once the house is sold. The remaining 3 of us have

continued to pay the utilities. The taxes and insurance are due soon and it will be a hardship on us to pay these too without the input of her share. Since she refuses contact there is also no way we can get the house sold. What are our options as we’d like her to contribute her portion of the bills as they come in and we’d like to get the house sold.

Asked on December 7, 2017 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, there is no way to force her to pay (unless there had been a written agreement or contract among you for her to pay; if there had been, such could be enforced). What you can do is if she won't cooperate in the sale, bring a legal action in county court for "partition": for a court order mandating the sale of the home and the distribution of the proceeds thereof. Furtheremore, in such an action, you can also present evidence that some owners have not paid their fair proporation of the bill(s) and potentially get the court to order that the other owners get reimbursements from the sale proceeds of the extra amounts they paid. If you want to explore this option, you are strongly advised to consult with an attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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