Can one co-owner of property sell it without the other owner’s permission?

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Can one co-owner of property sell it without the other owner’s permission?

I purchased a house with my now ex-girlfriend. My name is first and hers is second on the mortgage. If I don’t want to sell the house can she sell it without my approval?

Asked on March 16, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If co-owners can't agree on as to whether or not to sell jointly held property, the party in favor of a sale can file in court for what in known as a "partition".  This is a legal remedy that allows for the division of property among co-owners.  The way it works is that if a property can be physically divided the court will so instruct.  However, if division would be impracticable, as in the case of a single family residence, a court can order a "sale in lieu of partition".  Afterward, the sale proceeds are equitablly divided among the co-owners.  But prior to such a sale, the court would permit one co-owner to purchase the interest of the remaining co-owner for fair market value.


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