Can You Sell A Jointly Owned Property Without Consent?

Can One Owner Sell Jointly Owned Property Without Consent?

Updated on April 9, 2024

When it comes to jointly owned properties, a common question that often arises is whether one owner can sell the entire property without the consent of the other owners.

The answer to this question is not always straightforward and can depend on various factors, including the type of ownership and state laws.

In this article, we will introduce the intricacies of joint ownership, common occurrences surrounding the sale of jointly owned property, potential solutions to disputes, and the role of a real estate attorney in navigating these complex situations.

Understanding Jointly Owned Property

Joint ownership of property can take different forms, including joint tenancy and tenancy in common. In joint tenancy, each owner has an equal share of the property, and if one owner passes away, their share is automatically transferred to the remaining owner(s).

In tenancy in common, each owner has a distinct share of the property, which they can sell or transfer without the consent of the other owner(s). Learn more about joint tenancy vs tenancy in common here.

Can one owner sell a jointly owned property?

Can One Owner Sell Without Consent?

In a joint tenancy, one owner typically cannot sell the property without the consent of the other owner(s). The property must be sold by all owners together.

However, in a tenancy in common, one owner can sell their share of the property without the consent of the other owner(s).

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This sale does not affect the ownership rights of the other owner(s).

Interestingly, in either situation if one of the co-owners desires to sell the entire property in order to get the highest value for their share through a complete sale, they can usually do this through a forced partition sale of the property.

Please see our partition blogs for more information.

Common Occurrences and Solutions in Joint Owned Property Sales

  • Disagreement Among Owners: One of the most common occurrences in the sale of jointly owned property is a disagreement among owners. This can happen when one owner wants to sell the property, but the other owner(s) do not agree. In such cases, communication is key. Owners should try to discuss their concerns and come to a mutually acceptable solution.
  • Buyout Agreement: If one owner wishes to sell their share of the property, the other owner(s) may consider buying out their share. This can be done through a buyout agreement, which outlines the terms of the sale and the price of the share. A buyout agreement can help resolve disputes amicably and allow the remaining owner(s) to retain full ownership of the property.  This option is often the most cost effective because it can help avoid a partition lawsuit.
  • Partition Action: If an agreement cannot be reached, the owners may consider a partition action. This legal process allows a court to divide the property among the owners or order the sale of the property and division of the proceeds. A partition action is typically used as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted.  With a partition lawsuit, California has recently enacted some amendments to the partitions laws with allow the defendant in a partition action to buy out the plaintiff’s interest after the plaintiff files a partition claim.
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When to Hire an Attorney

  • Legal Advice: If you are unsure about your rights as a co-owner or the legal implications of selling a jointly owned property, it is advisable to seek legal advice from a real estate attorney. An attorney can help you understand your rights and options and provide guidance on how to proceed.
  • Negotiations: If negotiations between co-owners are not progressing, an attorney can help facilitate discussions and reach a resolution that is fair to all parties. An attorney can also help draft and review legal documents, such as buyout agreements or partition actions, to ensure that your interests are protected.
  • Litigation: In cases where disputes escalate and legal action is necessary, an attorney can represent you in court and advocate for your rights as a co-owner. An attorney can help you navigate the complex legal process and work towards a favorable outcome.  In many instances, a good attorney can also help you recover a portion of your attorneys’ fees from the opposing side if you are forced to bring a lawsuit to force a sale.
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You Have Options

In conclusion, while one owner typically cannot sell a fractional interest in a jointly owned property without the consent of the other owner(s) in a joint tenancy, they can sell their share in a tenancy in common.

Disputes over the sale of jointly owned property can be challenging, but with effective communication, negotiation, and legal assistance, co-owners can find a resolution that works for everyone involved.

If you are facing challenges related to the sale of a jointly owned property, consulting with a real estate attorney can provide you with the guidance and support you need to navigate the process successfully.

If you own property in California and the above scenario sounds like yours, you can contact our office today and set up an appointment to speak with our highly specialized attorneys at Schorr Law. Call us at 310-954-1877 or visit our contact page to set up an appointment here.

At Schorr Law, we have handled hundreds of partition actions and co-ownership disputes and we can help you navigate the sale in an efficient manner.

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