What are my father’s rights as half owner of his late mother’s home?

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What are my father’s rights as half owner of his late mother’s home?

Both my father and his sister want to sell their mother’s home, however his sister’s children are currently living in this house. They do not have any legal right to be in this home as they do not pay anything for rent, utilities, etc. They need to be out in order to get the house ready to sell. What is my father able to do as far as getting them out legally?

Asked on February 2, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If your father and his sister each are 1/2 owners of the home, either one has the right to not just live there but let other people live there, too: any owner has the right to use and occupancy (either by him/herself or by others he/she permits to live there) of real estate. 
Guests (i.e. anyone who is not a rent-paying tenant) do not have the right to be there if *all* owners want them gone. So your father and his sister could together remove them by bringing a legal action for "ejectment" (that's the traditional name; your state may call it something else), which is basically eviction for non-tenants. A landlord-tenant attorney could help them. But your aunt needs to be on board with this: if she continues to allow her children to live there, they can't be removed.
However, the law does have a remedy for when the co-owners of real estate cannot agree as to what to with it: your father can bring a lawsuit for "partition" (again, that's the traditional name; your state may have  a different name) seeking a court order compelling the sale of the estate. In the course of selling it according to a court order, the children can be removed as an impediment to the sale. So if your father is willing to force a sale over his sister's reluctance or objections, he can bring a lawsuit to do so. A real estate attorney can help him do this.


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