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Understanding Some Basics on Partition Actions in Real-Estate Co-Ownerships

August 2, 2022

When more than one person owns real estate, each owner has the right to possess the property. Co-owners of real estate also have the right to cease being co-owners whenever they wish. Unless there is an exception, a co-owner of real estate cannot be forced to continue being a co-owner if they want to quit being one. In fact, the law even allows co-owners seeking to terminate their interest in a property to do so by proceeding to court to force the partition of the property. Yes, partitions may be both voluntary and involuntary. Usually, partition actions arise when other co-owners refuse to sell their interests in a property or buy out a co-owner’s interest in a property for a fair price. Below is more on partition actions in real-estate co-ownerships.

What Is a Partition Action?

To “partition” real estate generally means to bring a proceeding in court to force the physical division of the property or sale of the property and have the proceeds from the sale distributed among the co-owners. Usually, a partition action arises when one party to jointly-owned real estate wishes to terminate their interest in the real estate property by forcing its sale and having the court divide the money obtained from the sale among the co-owners.

It is crucial to note that co-owners of real estate who have not waived their legal right to partition have an absolute right to bring a partition action to the court.

Types of Partition

In California, there are three forms of partition;

  • Partition by Sale – This method allows a co-owner of real estate to force a sale of the entire property even if other co-owners are not willing to sell their interests in the real estate property. If the court determines that the sale and division of the proceeds will be more equitable than the division of the property, it will likely order this type of partition.
  • Partition by Physical Division/Partition in Kind - Usually, this form of partition applies to properties involving acreage. However, if ordering this type of partition would result in a co-owner getting a share of the land, which is worth substantially less than the share of the money obtained through the sale of land as a whole, the court will opt for another form of partition.
  • Partition by Appraisal – This type of partition lets co-owners purchase the interests of other co-owners at a price assessed in a court-ordered appraisal. However, this form of partition can only occur if all co-owners agree to it in writing.
Requirements to File a Partition by Sale Action in Court

Forcing the sale of a jointly owned property is a commonly used remedy when disputes arise. Therefore, it is crucial that you understand the requirements to file a partition by sale action in court. The following are the requirements that need to be met for a person to file a partition by sale action in court;

  • It must be impractical to divide the property in question physically
  • One or more of the co-owners must be willing to sell the property, even if the others are unwilling
Contact Us for Legal Help

If you need more information on partition actions in real estate co-ownerships or are wondering how to file a partition action, contact our experienced lawyer at SAC Attorneys LLP at (408) 436-0789.

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