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Can a co-owner do improvements without another co-owner's approval? Do we all share the costs and profits? real estate reno

Tallahassee, FL |

My siblings and I own my deceased mother's home. It has passed through probate. We all want to sell, but can't agree on a price, realtor or strategy. Some of us wanted to sell "as is". Some want to repair the extensive problems (costing 10s of thousands) and try to sell for a higher price (essentially flipping it ourselves).

We don't get along well. How can we resolve this? I want to sell ASAP. Can I prevent the others wasting time, gambling on a reno and higher price? I've made it clear I will not contribute any funds or sign any loans for the project. If they do the renovation anyway, will I be liable for any of the costs they incur?

Also, won't a contractor need all owners'signatures before starting? To pull permits?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Best answer

    Your question was well-answered by Attorney Marano. Additionally, you may want to seek the advice of a local realtor who has significant experience in the current and former (bubble) marketplace. I personally think that assuming you will recoup all the monies invested in bringing your mother's home up to par will be a gamble that won't pay off. 8 years ago, maybe - but, the market has not reached the point where consumers are paying more than or equal the price the renovations will cost you. Banks also are less likely to take into consideration the full extent of renovations when an appraisal is done, thereby cutting out all but cash buyers from your pool of purchasers. If they won't listen to reason, begin a partition action before you get stuck with the bills.

    Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A. : (727) 647-6645 : : Wills, Trusts, Real Property, Probate, Special Needs: Information provided here is anecdotal and should not be relied upon or considered legal advice. Every matter is different and answers given here are general in nature and may not reflect current Florida law at the time you are reading this posting. Please contact me if you feel you need additional assistance with your matter.

  2. The ones who want the reno can buy out the interests of the ones who don't, then the ones who do can renovate to their hearts content and sell. They will then bear all the cost and risk, but reap any profit. You can all either agree on this, or someone can file an action for partition to force the separation of interests.

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ******

  3. Co-owners in real property who are not husband and wife hold title either as tenants in common or as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. As long as the property is jointly held, each owner is entitled to a right of contribution. In other words, if one owner expends money on maintaining and improving the property, that owner can look to the other owner(s) to contribute toward that expense in an amount proportionate to the other owner's interest in the property. There is no requirement that an owner obtain permission or signatures from other co-owners of the property prior to making the repairs, hiring contractors or pulling permits for the repairs as long as they are willing to pay for the cost of the repairs prior to receiving contribution from the other owners. To enforce the right of contribution, the person who expended the amount would need to commence a court action seeking contribution.

    In the alternate, if a property owner wants to sever joint property ownership, they would need to petition the court to partition the property. A partition is an action where the court orders the sale of the property and then the proceeds are divided among the owners based on their pro rata share of the property. The partition will effectively limit an owner's liability for future expenses related to the joint ownership.

    In the event that the owners cannot work out a private solution to property ownership disputes, such as one owner buying out the other's interest, seeking legal counsel is the best way to determine you legal rights and remedies and to develop a strategy to avoid liablity for future, anticipated property expenditures.

    NO LEGAL ADVICE: This response is not intended as legal advice nor should you consider it as such. It is intended only as general information with respect to a question that you have raised. You should not act upon this information without retaining professional legal counsel. Please keep in mind that merely contacting Bogin, Munns & Munns, P.A. cannot represent you until the firm knows there would not be a conflict of interest, and the firm determines that it is otherwise able to accept the engagement. Any information or documents sent prior to your executing an engagement letter and submission of a retainer deposit cannot be treated as protected by an attorney client-privilege and may be determined by a court to not constitute protected information of any nature.

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