What are a co-owner’s rights upon sale if the other co-owner almost never contributed to the payment of the mortgage or upkeep of the property?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What are a co-owner’s rights upon sale if the other co-owner almost never contributed to the payment of the mortgage or upkeep of the property?

I purchased a home 30 years ago with my sister-in-law; she is on the deed and on the mortgage. However, after 2 years she refused to help me pay the mortgage. Now I’m ready to sell the house and she wants 12 1/2% of the selling price because that what the title show that she owns. Is she entitled to this amount? She never resided in the home.

Asked on October 23, 2015 under Real Estate Law, New York


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

When it comes to jointly owned property, the general rule is that each co-owner is also responsible for their proportionate share of expenses, taxes and repairs. If the expenses are paid by one co-owner, the other co-owner must reimburse that person for their share. Further, if one co-owner pays for improvements to the property, typically the other co-owner must reimburse only for the lesser of the cost of the improvements or the increase in value of the common property.
However, to be certain of your rights, you should consult directly with a real estate attorney in your area. They can best advise you further after going over all of the details of your situation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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