Can I force owners who hold title as joint tenants to sell a house?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I force owners who hold title as joint tenants to sell a house?

I own 50% of a vacation home; 2 brother-in-laws own 25%. One of them and I want to sell because it’s too expensive. The other brother-in-law does not want to sell. The title is in joint tenancy. The house does not get used. There is a small mortgage. What are my rights? Can we sell since 75% of the owners want to sell? can my brother-in-law force us not to sell? Can my brotherinlaw force us to sell our shares to him at a below market price?

Asked on May 2, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

When co-owners of jointly held property cannot agree as to ownership matters, the law provides a remedy. It is called "partition". In an action for partiton, a property will be divided if feasible. If not, such as in your case, the court will order a "sale in lieu of partition" with the sale proceeds to be equitably divided. That having been said, before the property is put on the open market, any owner who wishes to retain the property can buyout the owners who want to sell, for fair market value.

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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