non-severable property and selling my share of ownership

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non-severable property and selling my share of ownership

My brother, sister and I own a cabin in West VA. The deed lists all of us, and
it was purchased by our father in the 4 names, with him willing his 1/4-share
to my sister upon his death in 2014. Since, decisions have been made by my
sister and brother without me. I have made it clear that I would like to sell
my 1/4-share to them, but in the meantime I expect full disclosure. That hasn’t
happened. Nor has purchasing my share. This past spring, my sister decided the
place should be sold because no one was using it. It was listed in mid-July. I
heard nothing until I sent an email in late September asking for an update. Had
the realtor shown it, what feedback were viewers giving, etc? In October, Sis
responded that she’d investigated renting the property as a vacation rental,
and was meeting with someone. I said I didn’t want to be in the business of
rental property and that if they did, fine, let’s revisit them buying me out.
She is now demanding that I pay up accruals or she’ll ‘pursue legal action.’
She JUST emailed me a ledger showing expenses from early 2015 through now, and
I still don’t have the bills to substantiate those figures — which I’ve been
requesting by email for over a year. Her accruals include non-essentials like
Dish TV. I am more than happy to pay what I owe for my share of normal and
reasonable expenses, even including things like tree removals that I was never
consulted on before the work was done. But I want out. I found out yesterday
that she was moving forward with Evolve rental property company and they were
in the final stages of onboarding to list the property on VRBO and other
vacation rental sites. I stopped the process, because it’s against their policy
to rent property that’s being listed for sale, and WV is a non-severable state
and I haven’t given my okay for the place to be rented. Evolve only had my
sister listed as owner. I don’t know what to do now

Asked on December 7, 2016 under Real Estate Law, West Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

When the co-owners of real estate cannot agree as to what to do with it, the recourse is to file a lawsuit or legal action in chancery court (a part or division of county court) for "partition," or for a court order that the property be sold and the proceeds of sale (less costs of sale and paying off any taxes or loans, etc.) be distributed among the owners. (If the property could be evenly divided physically, the court might order that instead, but that's usually only feasible with unimproved lots.) The case could be settle before or at trial by one or more owners agreeing to buy the dissenting owner(s) out. If you wish to pursue this option, you should retain a real estate attorney to help you: chancery court cases are more complex than, say, filing a small claims case for an unpaid bill or over a fender bender.


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