I own a property site with my sister who is living in it rent-free. She is not interested in purchasing my half. I’m not getting any use or value from the property as is. What are my options?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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If your sister is unwilling to sell the property voluntarily or to pay you for your half, your best option is to sue for partition. Of course, before you rush to legal action, you may want to try working things out with your sister on your own and trying to come to some type of an agreement.

Understanding Partition of Property Sites

If you can’t work things out, then you’ll usually have no choice but to take legal action – this comes in the form of “partition.” Partition is essentially a court order that will require the sale or division of the home. There are several different types of partition available: for example, the court may physically divide the property in question in half when possible or the court may force a sale of the land if it is not possible to physically divide the land/property in parts. In some jurisdictions, a third option called partition by allotment may also be an option, wherein one party gets to physically reside in or keep the property but has to pay the other party.

When you file a partition action, the court may first give you the opportunity to try to determine whether a forced sale or some other division is better. If you can’t work things out, then they will decide what the best option is. If they do force the sale, then your sister could choose to buy the property if she can afford it.

While the rules vary by state, partition actions are usually going to be successful unless you have an agreement in place with your sister on the division of the land, or unless you have a specific agreement not to partition.

Getting Help – Partition of Property Sites

If you are considering a partition action for your jointly-owned property site, you should contact a lawyer for help. A partition action can be complicated, as can a forced sale of the land if that ends up being the appropriate remedy offered. A lawyer can assist you with every step of this process to make sure you are treated fairly under the law.

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