How can I sell a house that I co-own with my boyfriend if he refuses to sell?

Recently on our forum we had a user ask, "How can I sell a house that I co-own with by boyfriend if he refuses to sell?"

As you might imagine, this is a common problem. Whether you have purchased property with a partner or spouse and are no longer together or property needs to be divided among family members, if you are the co-owner on property and the other owner refuses to sell, you have the option to force a sale or division of the property through a partition sale or partition division.

Who can force a partition sale?

If you are the co-owner of a property and your name is on the title, you may file an action for partition. There are two types of partitions: partition in kind (also known as partition by division) or partition by sale. Property which can be divided, such as a large piece of land, could be separated through a partition division, allowing for each co-owner to receive their own piece of the property in their own name. They could also dispose or keep their property as desired.

If you own a home or property which cannot be divided, however, you will need to request a partition by sale. After the partition by sale, the property would be sold to a third party, and the proceeds from the sale would be divided among all property owners. Consider, however, if your ex has been making mortgage payments or he has paid for improvements to the home, the court will make adjustments when determining the co-owner's interest in the property.

For instance, the court will make sure that following the sale all of the expenses are paid. This can include the costs for the partition and payments for any existing property liens. The court will also ensure each party receives their portion of the proceeds as determined by the court.

What do I do to file a property partition?

If you are considering a partition action you may want to consult with a lawyer. If you and your ex voluntarily enter into the partition it can be less contentious and easier to agree how to divide the property or how to file an action for partition to sale. If the partition is involuntary you may have to seek a court order to force the sale.

Next, you will want to hire your own appraiser to determine the value of the property. Depending on the value of the home and your ex's willingness, he may decide to buy out your share of the property. If he is not able or not willing to buy your share of the property it is time to firmly tell him what you want. You do not need his permission to sell. If he refuses to the partition for sale it may be time to hire a lawyer who specializes in real estate litigation.

Issues to consider prior to a forced sale

Unfortunately, if you have been forced out of a home you co-own you may need to take emergency action to protect your investment. For instance, you may need to go to court and have the court issue a temporary restraining order and injunction to prevent waste, protect your property, and eliminate unlawful interference of the sale.

As you can imagine, the easiest course of action is to avoid a forced partition for sale and for him to voluntarily agree to put the home up for sale without legal action.

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