Do I owe any money from the sell of a house to a person who has abandoned the property?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I owe any money from the sell of a house to a person who has abandoned the property?

I bought a house 10 years ago with a girlfriend. She left a year later and stopped paying anything towards the mortgage. The cops ordered her removed and banned from property. The house is now for sale and she wants money from it. I cannot sell the house without her signature because she is on

the note. Is there any legal stance on getting her removed from the note and/or is she entitled to any profit from the sale?

Asked on August 25, 2017 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There is no legal obligation that a person live at property to be entitled to a share of the proceeds from selling it. If she is an owner of the property (e.g. on title or deed), she is entitled to a share of the money. There are grounds, if she has not been paying the mortgage, taxes, or other expenses, to reduce her share and give you more of the proceeds to compensate you for having paid more to support the property. For example, if the property is worth $300k and you paid $100k more than her for it over the years and there is $80k remaining in a mortgage, if you and she were to litigate over the payment, a court might first order the mortgage be paid, leaving $220k; then give you $100k to compensate you for all the expenses you paid alone, leaving $120k; then split the $120k between you, $60k to each--you would net out to $160k from the sale, she to $60k. But she would almost always, were this to go to court, get something. So working out some voluntary buyout, reflecting (more or less) your greater contributions, is the right way to go.

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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