Owning real property in New York is a major investment and a source of significant personal wealth. Some people purchase properties entirely on their own, and others co-own real estate. Whether someone co-owns a home with their college roommate because they decided that buying together was better than renting or they share an ownership interest in a property with all eight of their cousins because of a grandparent’s estate plan, they will generally need to share responsibility for and control of the property with their co-owners.
Sometimes, one of the owners of a property would like to sell while the others do not. What can someone do when there is a disagreement about what should happen with a property in which multiple people own an interest?
One owner can initiate a partition action
It is more common than people realize for co-owners of a property to disagree about what should happen with it. Frequently, such agreements will result in compromise, but sometimes the parties involved in the dispute cannot reach a conclusion that everyone agrees is appropriate.
In scenarios where people simply cannot reach an agreement or where compromise would not be effective, the courts can intervene. New York law permits those who share an ownership interest in real property with others to initiate a partition action to separate those interests. A judge hearing a partition action case will consider factors including the goals and needs of all parties with an interest in the property and the most effective way of resolving the disagreement.
Some partition actions might result in an order to have one co-owner buy out another. Other times, such as when there is unimproved acreage involved, a judge could potentially divide a single property into multiple parcels and assign one to each co-owner. A partition action could also result in a judge ordering co-owners to sell the property and share the proceeds.
Any of these solutions might work for those embroiled in a dispute about real property that they own jointly with other individuals. While many people would prefer to settle financial disagreements amicably, particularly because they likely have a long-term relationship with their co-owner, some people simply cannot afford continued joint ownership or cannot commit to the maintenance and work required from the owners of the property.
Learning more about how the courts can help resolve real estate disputes may benefit owners who find themselves embroiled in a conflict with co-owners or others who have an interest in their property.