Partition of Real Estate – One owner wants to sell; the other doesn’t
- July 15, 2010
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What happens when two or more people own real property and one wants to sell but the others do not? The law does provide a way out of this dilemma. It is called a Partition Action. One must file a suit in Circuit Court to partition the property, naming the other owners as defendant(s). A hearing will be held, usually before the Master In Equity. It is a non-jury proceeding.
After testimony is taken and evidence is presented concerning ownership and value, the Court must make a ruling to either actually physically divide the property into as many pieces as there are owners or to order the property to be sold and the proceeds divided. If many acres of land are involved, with or without a house, the Court will almost always find a way to divide the land in kind. On the other hand, if only a house and lot are involved, it will almost surely result in a sale of the property. Any of the defendants are free to make an offer to buy the entire piece from the other owners. The price must be fair market value less, of course, the portion he owns. Also, if one of the owners has kept up the property through maintenance, payment of property taxes, etc. she is entitled to reimburse her expenditures in the proceeding.