What to do in a situation of multiple owners of a house cannot agree as to whether or not to sell?

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What to do in a situation of multiple owners of a house cannot agree as to whether or not to sell?

I’ve recently been interested in buying up a property. The 4 owners of the property obtained it as a Trust when another individual passed away. Now, 1 of these owners who does not live there at all, is refusing to sell the property to spite the other 3. It is also presumed that when the homes mortgage comes up to be paid that he will not pay his share of it, the insurance or the taxes. He apparently refuses to pay anything in regards to the home. If the other owners act in good faith and pay their share, does the fourth owner loose rights to the property or are all 4 considered to have defaulted? What happens if he chooses to pay none of his share but the others pay it to keep it from defaulting? This is relevant to me since I’d rather not loose months of hard work and discussions with the family and instead have to switch to talking about the sale with a bank instead.

Asked on May 29, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

1) No, him not paying does not cause him to lose his ownership rights or share of the property.
2) It doesn't matter if they act in good faith or not: if the entire mortgage is not paid, the bank can foreclose on the entire property.
3) If the owners disagree as to what to do with the property, the ones who want to sell can bring a legal action traditionally called an "action for partition" to get a court order requiring that the home be put up for sale--but it will be a public sale or listing, so someone else could bid on it. If the want to explore this option, they should speak with a real estate attorney.
For what it's worth, and based on nothing more than what you have written, you should walk away from this property. There are too many ways this can be tied up on litigation or have other problems (e.g. foreclosure) come up.


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