Can one co-owner of real property force another co-owner to sell?

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Can one co-owner of real property force another co-owner to sell?

I am co-owner of a house with my sister (we inherited it after our mother’s passing). I have had to move into the house due to unemployment and no income. Also, I have a permanent handicap that is making it hard to find a job. We had verbally agreed to 5 or 6 years before I had to buy her half, then she changed it to 1 year, and now she wants to force me to sell the house so hat she can get her half. This will leave me with no place to go. Can she force me to sell leaving me with little money from the sale and no place to go, or do I have rights since I live here and there was a verbal agreement?

Asked on December 17, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for your situation.  Unfortunately, I think that she can try and force you to sell.  She will have to bring what is known as an action for partition of the property which basically asks the court to split or partition the house in to the 50/50 share that you each have a right to.  But what really happens is that the court can not split the house in half literally so they force a sale of the property to divide the proceeds in half.  Your agreement was an oral contract, that is true, but contracts regarding real property have to be in writing to be valid.  maybe you can convince her that waiting will help increase the value and she will get more money in the end?  Otherwise, there may be nothing else you can do.


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