and Your Family
Can I Sell My Half of a House When There is a Co-Owner
As experienced New York estate lawyers at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, we understand that disputes can develop when siblings inherit property from their parents. Parents often leave the family home or other real property to their kids as tenants in common. While this is a fair way to distribute the property to children, it can lead to problems. The kids may not agree on what to do with the property. If it’s a house, they may disagree on who gets to live in it. They may disagree on what improvement should be made to it or how to decorate it. One sibling may want to sell it and the other may want to keep it. If you co-own a house with your sibling or another person and you want to sell your half of the house, contact a New York estate lawyer to discuss your options: negotiating a buyout, selling to a third party, or initiating an action for partition.
One option is to negotiate a buyout. The co-owner who does not want to sell can buy you out since you are the one who wants to sell. This is often the easiest and best option. It is not always feasible. The co-owner may not have the cash or ability to finance a buyout of our interest. You may not be able to come to terms on the buyout.
Alternatively, the you can offer to buyout your co-owner. Once you own all of the property, you can do whatever you want with it, including selling to a third party. This may be an acceptable option for you. However, your co-owner may not agree to this if they have already expressed that they do not want to sell their interest.
As counterintuitive it as might sound, a co-owner who owns property as a tenant in common has the right to sell their interest in the house to a third party. That third party may be another family member, or they may be a stranger. This is probably not what the co-owner who does not want to sell would want. Also, most strangers probably would not want to co-own a house. They would rather own the entire house.
As with any asset that is co-owned, each owner has a share of co-owned property. Shares of a home can be sold even if owners disagree about selling. Yes, this means shares of a home can be sold to strangers. However, most strangers don’t want to co-own a home together. So selling property shares like this isn’t a feasible option unless the co-owner knows and likes the new co-owner.
The third option is to petition the court for an order to partition the property or sell the property. In other words, ask the court to intervene and resolve the issue. The court proceeding is called an action for partition. You can initiate the action by filing a complaint. Discuss with an experienced estate attorney in New York what to include in the complaint and where to file it.
The court will consider the interests of the parties and the nature of the property. If the property is unimproved farmland, it might be easy to split it down the middle, given each co-owner 50% of the property. Each co-owner would then be the owner of their 50% of the original property and would have the right to sell it if they want to.
However, if the property is a house, partition may not be possible. You can’t cut a house in half. It would be unfair to give one party the downstairs and the other party the upstairs. It would be unfair to give one party the house and the other party the yard and driveway.
Instead, of partitioning the house, the court would require the house to be sold. The proceeds would be divided between the co-owners. You would get your desired result of selling your half of a house when there is a co-owner.
A homeowner can force the sale of a house when there is a co-owner who is against it. The options include negotiating a buyout, selling to a new owner, or initiating an action for partition. In addition, if there is a mortgage on the house or any other type of lien, there will be additional legal issue. The experienced estate attorneys serving New York at Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help you sort through the legal issues involved in selling your half of a house when there is a co-owner. Contact us at 800-696-9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Nassau County, Suffolk County, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, and Westchester County.