My brother and I inherited a property from our mother. I was unable to sell the property and he didn't try. Now the home needs repairs he refuses to pay for. How can I then reduce his monetary interest in the property given I will be incurring all the costs to repair the home which is now a rental or must I sell it regardless of what I might get for the property without the repairs? If he wants it sold but takes no action, do I then have the right to reduce his equity?
No, you do not have to sell at any price your brother wants to sell it for. It is unfortunate that you and your brother cannot agree.
There is a legal remedy available called "partition and sale" which forces a sale of the house, and also allows the court to adjust the equities if you have been paying for repairs and upkeep. This is a court procedure (actually a lawsuit) by which a judge will order the property sold and the proceeds distributed amongst the co-owners.
Upon granting judgment partitioning by sale of the property, the court will order that the proceeds of the sale pay the encumbrances thereon, and the net proceeds thereof then be divided between the parties in an equitable amount to be determined by the court, in addition to allowance, accounting, contribution, or other compensatory adjustment among the parties according to principles of equity, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 872.140. In such a partition action, you will need to present your evidence of why the court ought to distribute the proceeds differently than the ownership percentages.
Note that there are other types of partitions available which do not require a sale; such partitions would just adjust the ownership percentages between you and your brother. Therefore, if the real estate market is not good at the present time, there is no need to force a sale at this time.
Contact a real estate litigation attorney if you would like more information. See also:
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
Let me also add to what my colleague stated. You can just go ahead and make the needed repairs. Document the cost. If you are collecting rents treat it like a partnership. Take the rents and split them. Apply his share of rents to his share of the upkeep. Make sure you keep careful accounting records and many receipts and photographs of the condition before repair and the condition after repair. This is going to become your evidence in the event you pursue a partition action. As what was stated, there are partitions which don't involve the sale of the property. You may be able to reduce his equity position sufficiently to buy him out of his share of the property. But that is a very speculative result and would depend on many factors which are not being discussed here.
DO NOT RELY UPON ANYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET AS THE SOLE SOURCE OF INFORMATION AS TO HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUR LEGAL PROBLEMS. The information provided here is not intended to constitute legal advice and is purely based upon the limited information provided by the inquirer. I urge each of you to seek out an attorney in your community who is familiar with your local court's requirements and practices that will sit down with you and help you formulate a financial strategy which suits the needs of you and your family. In many cases the consultation is absolutely FREE. It is only when we attorneys can meet you and ask all the questions we need to ask that we can fully advise you of your options.
You need to list the home for sale with a Realtor and sell it. If you brother does not cooperate on the listing, you can bring a partition action and the court will order it sold.
It makes no sense to remain in this situation with your brother - what are you thinking? If you want to own a rental, take you 1/2 of the proceeds and take out a loan for the remainder of the purchase price.
www.michielawfirm.com I guess I wouldnâ€™t feel lawyerly unless I wrote a disclaimer to this answer â€“ after all, thatâ€™s what we lawyers are trained to do. So here it is. Disclaimer: Trying to provide a complete answer to a brief question without meeting the questioner and without getting all the facts is much like internet dating. Despite what you have been told by the person youâ€™ve met online (and donâ€™t they always put everything in the best light for themselves), once you meet them face to face you realize how much has been left out. People tend to bend the facts and there is always the other side to the story. So, this answer is about as valuable as the price that was paid for it. It should not be considered legal advice. It is meant as a general overview of how the law could apply to a very broad set of facts that may not have any applicability to the actual circumstances of the person making the question. It is hoped to provide some understanding of the broad field of law that could come into play. No attorney-client relationship has been formed with the questioner and no attorney client relationship was ever anticipated by my response to this question. I would also like to remind you that I am only licensed in the State of California, and the answer provided is based upon my knowledge of California law.
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