What are a joint property owner’s rights if they want to sell?

UPDATED: Feb 18, 2012

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What are a joint property owner’s rights if they want to sell?

My brother purchased a house with his now ex-girlfriend a few years ago. As some tales go, this relationship ended on a sour note and my brother is now trapped in a mortgage and a living situation he can no longer bear. His ex is unwilling to sell the house on the market and will not reimburse my brother payment allocations he has made, not even a partial sum? Does he have any options?

Asked on February 18, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Alaska


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Your brother has leared a very expensive lesson here. He may need to move out.  Once he does he can may be able to bring an action for partition which asks the court to split the asset jointly owned down the middle.  With real property that generally results in selling the house and splitting the proceeds (you can't split a house down the middle). It also may force her to reconsider buying him out  He needs to make sure he has the basis for the action which varies state to state but generally if the house has become a burden to upkeep and maintain, etc., it is enough.  He needs a lawyer here.  Good luck.

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