Partition with tenants in common

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Partition with tenants in common

I owned my home for 7 years contract
for deed then needed to get a
mortgage but needed someone else to
sign as well. My significant other at the
time did so on title and mortgage we
are tenants in common. He moved out
after 4 years and never attempted to
return on the property. Now 21 years
later he wants 150,000 but has not
contributed any . Advice please

Asked on May 6, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If he is a tenant in common with you, he is part owner of the home. He is entitled to a share of the equity in the home if and when you sell it; you need his consent or permission to sell it, unless a sale is ordered by a court (e.g. if one of you brought an action "for partition" to get a court order compelling the sale of the house, which is something one owner can do if they and the other owner[s] cannot agree as to what to do with the property); and even has  the right to access, occupy, use, and live in the house, the same as you. By putting him on the deed, you gave him rights equal to yours.
If the matter does end up in court, it is likely that a court will give you some credit or adjustment to reflect the greater amounts you paid than him (courts have an inherent "equitable" power to try to work fairness in many cases, within the bounds of the law), and so if you and he can resolve the matter without a trial (e.g. in mediation), it would be appropriate to similarly adjust what he might get to reflect that you made payments which he did not. However, you need to start from the perspective that as a tenant in common, he fundamentally owns the house as much as you do, and therefore has the same rights as you, subject only to some equitable adjustment for your payments.


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