Schorr Law offers its clients representation in real property partition actions. These disputes often arise when co-owners of property disagree on whether or not to retain ownership of property.
What is a Partition Action?
A partition action is a lawsuit that comes about when two or more owners of real property cannot agree on whether or how to sell the property. For example, a partition action can be the result of one owner wanting to sell while the other owner does not. The partition action itself is a lawsuit where the plaintiff seeks the court’s assistance in forcing a sale or division of the property. There are very few defenses to a partition action.
What Does it Mean to Partition Real Property?
Partition is either a forced sale or a splitting of real property. A partition occurs when a co-tenant (a co-owner of real property) no longer wants to co-own real property with his/her/its co-owner and there is a disagreement as to what should be done with the property. At Schorr Law, our Los Angeles real estate attorneys are constantly litigating partition matters. We have even successfully obtained an adverse possession judgment against a co-tenant in the context of a partition matter.
Are there Different Types of Partition Actions?
Yes. There are three types of partition actions: (1) A partition by sale—this is where the plaintiff seeks to have the court order the property sold as a whole. This is the most common form of partition. (2) A second type of partition action is for a partition in kind—this type of action is where the plaintiff asks the court to divide the property. Partition in kind is very uncommon because most properties (other than rural or undeveloped large parcels of land) do not lend themselves to division. If the parties are likely to recover more money through a partition by sale as opposed to a partition in kind (by division), then the court will likely order a full sale. (3) The third type of partition is a partition by appraisal. A partition by appraisal involves a situation where one party is going to buy the other party’s interest in the real property. The parties then agree to follow a statutory appraisal scheme to determine the fair buy out price.
When is it Best to File for a Partition Action?
The best time to file a partition action is when the property has equity. If there is no equity in the property, there may not be good reason to file a partition action. That said, we always recommend the the parties try to agree on a sale and a method of sale before filing a partition action. If the parties cannot agree, then the party seeking a sale should immediately bring an action. In our experience, even after a party commences a partition action, most of the time the case resolves with a negotiated sale upon negotiated terms as opposed to through an involuntary court order.
A few of our recent successes on partition matters include:
- Obtaining an award of 100% of our attorneys’ fees in a partition matter where the court found the other party had unnecessarily caused the expense of the litigation to go up by failing to cooperate with the partition;
- Obtaining a prevailing party attorney fee award in a partition matter where our client was awarded the recovery of more than its share of the fees in the case;
- Successfully obtaining summary judgment in a partition matter amongst three siblings for property they jointly inherited;
- Winning a partition case at trial where our client was sued for partition and the plaintiff refused to pay his share of the property's common expenses;
- Resolving a partition case amongst family members which resulted in one family member buying out the other family member;
- Forcing a sale of real property in a partition matter where our client had 10 acres of a 250 acre parcel of land;
- Successfully converting a partition action into an adverse possession claim to allow our client to get 100% of title to a multi-million dollar piece of property where our client was on title with only a 50% interest;
- Successfully obtaining an increased percentage of interest in real property through a partition and ouster action involving siblings.