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If there are two owner of a home (3 family), can one person force the sale of a house in Mass.

Holden, MA |

My Mom has lived in her home for 65 years, her borhter-in-law who owned the other half passed away and left it to a person who wants to sell. Can she force my Mom to sell the house and leave the home she has lived in for 65 years?

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Attorney answers 4


Assuming the other person now legally owns the property with your mother as tenants in common, meaning they each own a one half interest in the property, this other person can only sell what he or she owns- half the interest in the property. Your mother would then own the property with the buyer. Generally speaking, a buyer would not want to buy only a half interest and this other person may take your mother to court to try and force a sale. You should advise your mother to consult an attorney as soon as possible to determine how the property is owned and what rights or remedies she may have. Another option is for your mother to buy the other half interest and then she would own the property outright. Best of luck.

Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. (It lets us know how we are doing.) Attorney Kremer is licensed to practice in Massachusetts. Please visit her Avvo profile for contact information. In accordance with Avvo guidelines, the following disclaimer applies to all responses given in this forum: The above is NOT legal advice, and is NOT intended to be legal advice. No Attorney-Client relationship is created through the above answer.



We did see a Lawyer and was told the new owner could not sell half a house and if the new owner wanted to sell my Mom is forced to sell. Is this the law in Mass?

Emma A. Kremer

Emma A. Kremer


The new owner can sell his half interest to your mother and theoretically can sell to another person but no one is likely to do that since that person would own it with your mother. Realistically, the new owner will file a petition for partition to force a sale because no one wants to own half a house unless related or married or otherwise. Hopefully your mother can buy the other half interest and avoid court.


The other co-owner can go into either Probate or Land Court and file a Petition to Partition. This action will lead to a court order to sell the property.

Generally, the easiest way to avoid this outcome is to work out a deal with the other co-owner which will either have the effect of delaying the sale until your mother moves out or dies or to have your mother buy out the co-owner. Your mother should meet with a real estate attorney right away and explore her options.

E. Alexandra "Sasha" Golden is a Massachusetts lawyer. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.


While the other owner cannot force your mother to sell, the other owner can go to court and seek a court order requiring the sale of the property. This is known as a partition action.

If this answer was helpful, please mark it as helpful or as a best answer. This answer is for general education purposes only. It neither creates an attorney-client relationship nor provides legal guidance or advice. The answer is based on the limited information provided and the answer might be different had additional information been provided. You should consult an attorney.


Thank you for your question.

The answer is that any co-owner can force the sale of the home, known as a partition action. As Attorney Golden points out, it is often better for the parties to come to some agreement and negotiate a sale or buyout. Our office represents owners throughout Massachusetts in property disputes and partitions.

Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts. All answers are based on generalized Massachusetts law and the limited facts presented by the questioner. All answers are provided to the general public for educational purposes only and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question. If you would like an attorney with Vaughn-Martel Law to review your specific situation and provide you with legal options or information specific to you, you may schedule a telephone or office by calling 617-357-4898 or visiting us at Our office charges $100.00 for a consultation, and applies your consultation fee to your first bill if the Firm is hired to perform further work.

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