When property is left as an inheritance to more than one person, or two people own a property together, such as when they were partners in the real estate or were domestic partners, we get into situations where multiple people own the same property and one of them does not wish to own the property together anymore and files the partition action. The other person wonders how to stop a partition action, and if a partition action can even be stopped.
The person bringing the partition action is typically the one who has the most to gain from selling the property, the person who does not live on the property or is not getting the money for it. The person who does live on the property or would like to co-own the property with the other person typically wonders if a peartition action can be stopped, and if yes, how do you stop a petition to partition. Stopping a partition action is difficult, but there are some solutions here that are very effective to achieve your goals.
Situations arise where there is no agreement on how to share ownership rights to the property. For example, one of the co-owners uses the property or rents out the property, not letting the other co-owner benefit. In New York when property is owned jointly by more than two individual owners or two entities and a conflict erupts, any owner has the right to bring a partition lawsuit with the Court. Partition lawsuits can be brought regarding residential or commercial property. In other words, a partition lawsuit means that property ownership or property maintenance and responsibilities are going to be decided by the Court by dividing the property or the tasks in some manner. Sometimes one of the other people wishes to stop the partition and wonders can a partition action be stopped.
After all, owning property together does not always make sense. For example, if it’s a one-family house owned by two people, they cannot both live there. They can either rent it out and share the rent, have one of them live there and pay the other person rent, agree that the person who doesn’t live there is okay with not getting compensated, or they can sell the property. Working out one of those solutions is how you stop a partition action.
Examples of Partition Conflicts and Their Resolutions
Typical conflicts that may result with residential joint property owners are who is going to live at the property, who maintains the property, takes care of repairs and who is responsible for paying taxes and whether to sell the property or not. Conflicts involving commercial property may be similar except that instead of who is going to live at the property it may be over choosing the most suitable tenant.
When the parties are unable to resolve their conflicts, a partition lawsuit is sometimes the only way to get the other party to agree to what must or needs to be done. In fact, agreeing to do the right thing is one of the simple ways to stop the partition action – by agreeing to sell the property or to share rent or ownership with the co-owner who is bringing the partition.
Solutions for Stopping a Partition Action
There are several remedies that the Court may use to resolve conflicts and to stop a partition action. For instance, if property needs to be sold, the Court will typically appoint a referee to sell the property and divide the profits amongst the owners according to their percentage of ownership. This type of situation frequently occurs after a New York decedent leaves property to their adult children, and one child decides they want to sell the property and the other does not. A partition is stopped when the property is sold or there is an agreement between the co-owners.
Another common situation is when the children decide to keep the property and then cannot decide who is responsible for paying the maintenance, repair and taxes. The referee may allow the owners to submit their evidence of expenses so that the referee can decide on how to allocate expenditures and reimbursements that may be due to an owner.
Another solution may be a buy-out by one of the co-owners when one party no longer wants to retain the property. Or the property may be leased with the referee deciding the amount of rental payments that should be allocated to each owner. The Court may look at statutory limits as well as the rights, title and interests of the parties in the property before making any decisions as to stopping the partition.
Avoiding a Partition Action in the First Place
Before setting up a co-ownership situation of real property, you should make sure the joint owners are people who trust each other and are able to work things out in the event things will not work out. This way it is may be easier to avoid conflicts or resolve them without having to turn to the Courts for help and trying to stop a partition action.
In an estate, the best way to stop a partition action is to use estate planning techniques before death, such as making a will which directs for the property to be sold and to not have anyone use the property after the original owner’s death, or to create a trust (if tax-appropriate). While it is difficult to anticipate what might happen when you purchase or invest in property with another person, or leave the property to your heirs, you can minimize your risk of ending up in a partition lawsuit by utilizing estate planning or preparing a partnership or other agreement which sets forth the duties and responsibilities of each owner and the proportion of the costs each owner is responsible for so that there are less conflicts later on down the road.
Working with an experienced New York property attorney can help you avoid and settle conflicts.
If you wish to speak to a New York estate and property attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774.