How do you remove a person from a property deed?

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How do you remove a person from a property deed?

My sister and her ex are both on a deed for a house they got together about 10 years ago. They split. My sister left; her ex stayed. She is the co-signer and he is not making payments, therefore they have garnished her tax refunds. What does she do to remove him from the deed or house?

Asked on February 17, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

She can't remove him, even if he is not making payments on a loan or on property taxes: if he is on the deed, he is an owner, and there is no way for her to unilaterally remove him against his will while she retains ownership *unless* he had been ordered (or agreed) to sell the house as part of the distribution of assets in their divorce. Here's what she can do:
1) Sell the house, and if he won't agree to sell it, she can  bring a legal action asking the court to order its sale (when the owners of real estate can't decide what to do with it, the court has the power to order that it be sold and the proceeds distributed).
2) Sue him for the money he should have paid but did not, and for any additional costs he incurred because he did not make the payments he should have.
These are not as simple as bringing, say, a small claims action over a fender bender or unpaid invoice for work done; your sister is advised to retain an attorney to help her.


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