Can one co-owner rent out the property without the other co-owner’s permission?

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Can one co-owner rent out the property without the other co-owner’s permission?

My father passed away 2 years ago and left his home to me and his other son, whom I haven’t heard from since his death. I just recently went by the house to see the condition and because I was informed that the house taxes weren’t being paid and have found out people are living there without my permission; I know my brother has let them stay there. What do I do to evict them and get full ownership of this house and/or the rent I am owed seeing as though this house is half mine and my brother is collecting money that half belongs to me?

Asked on December 1, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

As to any rent owed to you, you can sue your brother is small claims court, so long as you can prove that rent is in fact being paid to him and how much. However, at this point you alone cannot evict the occupants (you both would have to agree to this).

As for getting ownership of the house, you can certainly offer to buy your brother out. If he refuses then you can go to court and file for "partition". This is a legal remedy available to co-owners of property when they cannot agree as to ownership matters. Partition allows for the division of the property. Accordingly, if it can be physically divided the court will instruct that it be done. However, if division would be impracticable (as in the instance of a single family house; your situation), then the court would order a sale "in lieu of partition" (i.e. instead of) and an equitable division of the proceeds among the co-owners would be made. Before forcing a sale however, the court would permit one co-owner to purchase the interest of the remaining co-owner at fair market value.

At this point you should consult directly with a real estate attorney in your area.


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