Can a Jointly Owned Property Be Sold by One Owner?
There are many reasons that people own real estate together. The most common way is for married couples to co-own their family home as well as other real estate. It is even common for nonmarried couples to purchase property together. Another way that people end up owning property together is through inheritance. Whether a testator left property to their children or if through intestate succession siblings or other relatives inherit a house or other real property, the result is that two or more people end up co-owning property. As a result, they end up having to make decisions together as to how to manage the property and how to dispose of it. Problems can develop if the co-owners do not agree on what to do with the property. For example if two people co-own a house, one owner may want to keep it and live in it, while the other co-owner may want to sell it. Disputes over property can become contentious and the co-owning relationship may become untenable. Under Florida law, there are options that allow a jointly owned property to be sold by one owner. To discuss these options, contact an experienced Palm Beach County partition lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates.
One option that allows a jointly owned property to be sold without the permission of all owners is an action for partition. FL Stat § 64.011 et seq. Partition is a lawsuit during which the court severs a co-ownership relationship. While partition actions are sometimes initiated during the estate administration (link to: https://www.flprobategroup.com/estate-administration.html), they are also commonly initiated outside of the estate administration process. There are two possible outcomes of a partition action: partition or sale.
The court determines that the property is divisible such that no co-owner will be prejudiced, the court will order a partition. FL Stat § 64.051. The result of a partition is that each of the owners will own separate portions of the once co-owned property.
If the court finds that the property is nondivisible, making partition impossible, the court will force a sale of the co-owned property at public auction and the property will be sold to the highest bidder. FL Stat § 64.210
A partition action is initiated when a co-owner of property files a complaint with the court in the Florida county where the property is located. Because of the technicalities involved, contact an experienced Palm Beach County partition lawyer to help you initiate your action for partition.
The complaint must be initiated by a co-owner and include the names and addresses of each co-owner, joint tenants, tenants in common, coparceners, and other persons with an interest in the property. The complaint must also include the percentage interest each has in the property. FL Stat § 64.041
As an experienced partition attorney serving Palm Beach County will explain, the court will then make a determination as to the interests of each party in the property and whether partition is possible. In determining whether partition is possible, the court will consider:
- Whether it is practical to divide the property among the co-owners
- The length of ownership of each co-owner
- A co-owner’s sentimental attachment to the property
- How the property is currently being used by a co-owner, and the potential harm to that co-owner if the property is partitioned
- The degree to which the co-owners have contributed their pro rata share of the property taxes, insurance, and other expenses related to the maintenance of the property
- Any other relevant factor
FL Stat § 64.209
If partition is not possible, the property will be sold. Note that the parties to the action for partition will be responsible for fees and expenses associated with the action such as attorney’s fees and taxes. Those expenses will be apportioned to each owner according to their proportionate interest in the property. In apportioning expenses and distributing the revenue from the sale, the court will take into consideration the amount of mortgage payments and other expenses that each co-owner contributed.
Because typically real estate is a valuable asset, it is not unusual for co-owners to argue over what to do with it. There are options to consider that will allow you to sell your interest in the property or sever the co-owner relationship. To discuss partition and other options related to your co-owned property in the greater Palm Beach area, contact an experienced partition attorney in Palm Beach County at the Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC. are uniquely qualified to handle your legal needs. Contact us at 561-710-4000 for a free no obligation consultation. We serve clients in Palm Beach County, Dale County, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.