Can one co-owner lock out the other co-owner?

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Can one co-owner lock out the other co-owner?

I own a house with an ex-boyfriend; he is on the title but not on the mortgage. He has not paid me anything towards mortgage payments in months and is living there for free, not to mention damaging the property. I am currently trying to buy him out of the house but he is constantly stalling to avoid leaving. Can I change the locks to ensure he no longer stays there?

Asked on July 9, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, one co-owner may not lock out the other: since you are both on the title, you each have equal rights to possession (basically use and occupancy) of the home. What you can do, if you can't resolve this with him, is to bring a legal action asking the court to order the property to be sold and the proceeds distributed (split) between the two of you; this is sometimes called an action for "partition." Filing this action may also prompt your ex-boyfriend to finally agree to sell to you, to avoid the costs of litigation, plus marketing and selling to a third party.


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