If a brother and sister own a house jointly and are fighting over the mortgage, bills etc., can one sue the other for possession of the house?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If a brother and sister own a house jointly and are fighting over the mortgage, bills etc., can one sue the other for possession of the house?

And if one party wishes to walk away from the mortgage, what are the repercussions?

Asked on December 29, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

When co-owners of property, either real or personal, cannot agree as to ownership matters the law provides a remedy known as "partition". In a partition action, the court will order the division of the property.
However, in a case in which division is impractical, such as you have here - a single family dwelling, the court will order a sale in lieu of partition. Accordingly, the property will be put on the open market and sold for fair market value; the sale proceeds will then equitably divided among the co-owners. First, however, if any party wants to keep the house they can offer to buy out the other owner. If both parties want the premises, then the property is put up for sale to a 3rd party.
 At this point you should consult directly with a real estate attorney in your area. They can best advise you further.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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