What are the options for a co-owner of a property when the other owner wants out?

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What are the options for a co-owner of a property when the other owner wants out?

I bought a home with an ex-fiance in the peak of the housing market. I stupidly pulled monies out of my other property (now upside down) as a down payment and to remodel the kitchen, install new appliances, new windows, etc. My ex contributed about $2,000. I put in over $100,000. He moved out 5.5 years ago and since then I’ve been exclusively making the payments. I even paid off the second. I didn’t want to walk away from my responsibilities and have made many sacrifices as to not lose the home. This summer, I tried for an assumption and was denied. My ex is demanding I sell or refinance. What are my rights? What are his?

Asked on December 27, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, in a situation such as this, the co-owner who wants to sell has the right to pursue what is known as "partition". This is a legal remedy available to co-owners of property when they cannot agree as to whether or not to sell the property or other ownership matters. A partition allows for the division of property among co-owners if the property can be physically divided.  Where division would be impracticable (as in the instance of a single family residence) a court will order a "sale in lieu of partition" and an equitable division of the proceeds among the owners. Before doing so however, it would permit a co-owner to purchase the interest of the remaining co-owners at fair market value.

However, this is just a general summary. You really should at this point consult directly with a real estate attorney in your area further on the matter.


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