Can a co-owner or real estate force the other owner to sell?

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Can a co-owner or real estate force the other owner to sell?

Property is in the names of a mother and her 2 sons. The mother died and 1 of the sons has lived on the property for the entire time. Can the other son make the sibling that’s been living in the house move in order to sell it?

Asked on January 15, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

When the owners of property cannot voluntarily agree as to what to do with it (e.g. whether to sell it or not), one or more of the owners can bring a legal action (a lawsuit), often called an action "for partition," to ask the court to order that the property be sold and the proceeds distributed. Of course, the matter could also be settled voluntarily, such as by the living-there sibling buying out the other sibling's interest; such could potentially be done over time, with the living-there sibling paying $X per month towards his brother's share of the property. Given the costs of a lawsuit, voluntarily working it out is likely in both brother's interest.


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