People own property jointly for many different reasons. Maybe you bought a place with your college roommate so that you wouldn’t have to pay rent in your twenties. Maybe you bought a house with your long-term romantic partner despite your decision to not get married. Maybe you inherited real estate when a family member died.
However you came to own property jointly with others, you will share both responsibilities and property value with the other owners. You will not be able to make unilateral decisions about the property, like the decision to sell or refinance, without the permission and involvement of the other owners.
What happens when you no longer agree on what to do with your jointly-owned property?
You can file a partition action
State law does allow those who own property together with others to ask the courts to intervene. After all, property ownership is a responsibility that comes with big expenses and liability if you fail to maintain the property and have adequate insurance on it. When one owner of a property initiates a partition action, they can ask the courts to separate everyone’s ownership interests.
This can happen in several ways. If the property involves acreage, the judge could cut it into multiple parcels and give certain parcels to each of the beneficiaries. They could order the sale of the property with everyone sharing the proceeds. The judge could also allow one or more of the owners to buy out a co-owner at a fair market price, possibly by refinancing the property.
Understanding what rules help protect you as a property owner can help you maintain control of your biggest assets.