If you share the title and the mortgage on a residence with another person, can they force you to sell it?

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If you share the title and the mortgage on a residence with another person, can they force you to sell it?

I have been making all the mortgage payments for over 10 years, paying all the taxes and insurance, etc. Can they force me to sell the residence? I have asked for a quick claim and have offered to get their name off the mortgage since they haven’t paid anything on it. They are not interested. Someone said they could not force me to sell, and if they pass away the residence just goes to me and is not included in their will.

Asked on October 30, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I'm afraid that you can be forced to sell. In the law there is a legal remedy known as "partition". This is an action available to co-owners of property when they cannot agree as to whether or not to sell the property and/or other ownership matters. A partition allows for the division of property if the property can be physically divided. However, in a case where division would be impracticable (e.g. a single family house) a court would order a "sale in lieu of partition" and an equitable distribution of the proceeds among the co-owners would be made. However, before doing so, one co-owner would be permitted to purchase the interest of the remaining co-owner at fair market value.

Note: The distribution of proceeds would be "equitable" which means that you would most likely be given credit for the sums that you alone were out of pocket to maintain/improve the property.

As for automatically taking over the property upon the death of your co-owner, it depends on just how title to the property is held. If it is as "joint tenants with right of survivorship", then you would take over sole interest upon the other owner's death. If it is held a "tenants in common" (or there is no speciic designation), then your deceased co-owner's share would pass to their beneficiaries/heirs.


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