Legal rights in selling a house

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Legal rights in selling a house

what is the law when two people not married
buy a house together and one wants to sell and
the other doesn’t want to?

Asked on January 22, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

In a situation such as this the law provides a remedy known as "aprtition". This is a tool that is employed when co-owners of jointly held property (real/personal) cannot agree as to ownership matters. In a partition action, if a property can be equally divided, then a court will so instruct. However, where division is impractical (as with a single family home), then in that case the court will order a "sale in lieu of partition". This means that the property will be sold and the proceeds equitably distributed between the owners. That having been said, before such a sale would be ordered, a co-owner would be given the right buy out of the other co-owner at fair market value. However, you should be aware that a partition action can be time consuming and costly so it is advisable for to try an work out an amicable agreement. 

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 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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