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Can you legally lock out a person you own a house with,tenants in common and sue them for mortgage payments.

Queens Village, NY |

Can you legally lock out a person you own a house with, tenants in common and sue them for part of their mortgage payments? They do not want to be in the house anymore or pay their share.What kind of lawyer I need to protect my rights? Thank you.

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Attorney answers 5

Posted

You cannot lock someone out of their home. If you do you can be sued for treble damages.

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Posted

No, you can't evict them (or change the locks which is a self-help eviction without the required court permission), unless you have some kind of lease or written agreement regarding your ownership and rights of possession and responsibilities for payment to third parties like banks, other than the deed and mortgage.

You could ask this person to quitclaim their interest to you and you'd agree to pay their share of the mortgage and other carrying charges and perhaps the bank would agree to take them off the note and mortgage (they might or might not), you'd probably have to reapply for a mortgage on your own income and credit. Or buy them out and pay off or refinance the mortgage.

The other thing you could do would be to do a partition action, where you'd basically have to buy our their share (or the house could be sold on the courthouse steps at an auction, like a foreclosure option).

These are the off the top of my head solutions, I would talk to a real estate attorney about how this situation should be finessed. It's not an easily solved problem, and you can't treat a co-owner like a tenant. Even if the person were just a tenant, a landlord can't evict them or lock them out without a court order of eviction, and then the Sheriff, not you, would accomplish this (the reason is to do things through legal channels and prevent potentially violent situations).

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Asker

Posted

So you are saying only the bank can sue him? He can stop paying and mess up my credit. Can I cover his part and sue him?

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Posted

You can cover his part and sue him, but without a written agreement between the two of you, it may be difficult. One thing you might be able to do (at least for a while) is to make payments and sue him in small claims court up to the $3,000 or $5,000 limit, depending on where you live, as you make the payments and pay his share. You will have to argue an implied contract, which could run into problems because of the "statute of frauds" which requires some contracts such as those dealing with real estate or intended to be performed for more than a year (that's why people have written leases for more than month-to-month tenancies).

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Posted

...to be in writing and signed by the party to be bound (completing the last sentence/thought).

Posted

Dear Queens Village Owner:

You cannot legally lock anyone out anywhere in New York State. In New York City locking out (that is a self-help eviction ) is a crime.

If the tenants in common do not want to be in the house anymore they can move out, so there is no reason to lock them out.

If you have issues with Tenants in Common and you want to end your business with them, you do so with an action for partition. It is a lawsuit commenced in New York State Supreme Court.

The subject is contained in New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Article 9.

http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/RPA/9

A real estate attorney with litigation skills in partition actions is among the specialists you could look for.

Good luck.

The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.

Asker

Posted

Thank you...Can I sue him? I do not want my credit messed up. Will the bank sue him if I cover his half in order not to mess up my credit? What kind of lawyer is needed?

Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Warren Smollens

Posted

OK. This is an issue that has been brewing for a time. Hire an attorney and have your attorney provide a legal opinion.

Posted

You cannot lock someone out of their home without a court order.
Whether they will owe you mortgage payments will depend on your agreement.
If they do not want to be in the house, why do you need to lock them out?
You need a real estate attorney or a civil litigator with real estate experience.

My answer is for general purposes only and is not not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship, nor is it advice upon which you should act or rely. But, if you really want me to tell you something upon which you can actually rely: don't eat yellow snow.

Asker

Posted

Thank you...So really a person can stop paying the mortgage and leave the other person stuck and their are no laws to make the other person pay? That is sad.

Peter J Weinman

Peter J Weinman

Posted

Not sure what you mean when you say there are no laws to make the other person pay. If you have an agreement and they have breached that agreement, you most certainly can sue them for your damages. What does your agreement say about your mutual rights and responsibilities by and between each other?

Posted

Do not do anythng until you consult with a landlord tenant lawyer. You can not lock them out without a court order.

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