“Whether owned willingly or not, real estate co-owners are likely to experience joint property ownership disputes at some point in time. For a fair settlement and favorable outcome in ownership and property disputes, hiring an expert real estate attorney becomes important.”
Joint property ownership disputes between co-owners of a real estate are likely to happen several times during the co-ownership period. These disputes can be both minor and major.
And it does not matter whether the co-owners happened to have willingly entered co-ownership or not. There are always circumstances where it becomes hard to avoid a disagreement with the other owner. Thus, ownership and property disputes happen all the time.
However, sometimes the gravity of the joint property ownership disputes is such that seeking legal assistance seems to be the only way out. Hiring the services of a professionally competent real estate attorney can help a lot in straightening out ownership and property disputes between real estate joint owners.
Either you plan to enter into a real estate property joint ownership or are already a co-owner and going through some disputes, this article is for you. In this, we have discussed in length many important aspects of joint property ownership disputes.
What is joint ownership of a real estate property?
Joint ownership of a real estate property in its simplest form means any land and fixed (immovable) property whose ownership title is shared by more than one person.
However, joint ownership itself is a broad term. Therefore, to understand the very nature of it that applies in your case, it is important to classify its types. These are –
- Tenancy in Common (also known as ‘TIC’)
- Joint Tenancy
- Tenancy by the Entirety
We discuss all these three types or ways of holding joint ownership property later in this article.
First, we need to look at some instances where more than one person becomes or assumes a joint ownership title. Practically, there can be many circumstances where a person willingly or unwillingly becomes a joint owner of a real estate. A few of these are –
- Joint ownership of real estate property is common among business partners.
- Any elders in a family or any other members jointly investing in owning a property. This can merely be for the sole purpose of investment, or as a vacation property, etc.
- A simple real estate investment done by more than one individual who isn’t necessarily a business partner.
- Becoming joint owners of a property through an inheritance or gift.
- Married or unmarried couples investing in joint ownership of property based on their current relationship.
- Joint ownership arising as a result of divorce.
- Appointment of several individuals as co-owners of a real estate property by way of devising a will or conveyance by a trust.
What are joint property ownership disputes?
As the term itself suggests, the easiest interpretation of joint property ownership disputes is a disagreement between real estate co-owners. The nature of such a disagreement that raises ownership and property disputes can be both minor and major.
Primarily, a co-ownership means all joint owners assuming joint control and authority over the jointly owned real estate. Through an undertaking or as an assignment, all joint owners agree to handle and manage all its affairs. Despite this, confusions and ambiguities may arise between the real estate co-owners which may further lead to ownership and property disputes.
Examples of situations that may lead to joint property ownership disputes
Disagreements between co-owners can happen on several occasions and due to many reasons. Some of the common causes of ownership and property disputes are –
- The owners are unable to agree on how to handle and manage the property.
- There is a dispute as to what use should the property be put into. For example, in the case of a plot of land, should there be a further investment to build a house. Or in case of a build-up property, should it be kept for investment and sold when the prices are higher, or should it be rented out.
- One of the joint owners has deprived other owners of their right to use the property. Thereby, having complete possession of it without their approval.
- Joint owners approved complete possession of their property to one partner against rent payment. However, that partner either does not pay the rent or is not vacating the property now, or both.
- One of the joint owners either intentionally or unintentionally is unable to pay his part of the expenses incurred. For example, maintenance expenditures, any taxes, mortgage payments, etc.
- Using property by one owner for a purpose which the other joint owners deem unfit. This can include any harm to the property, or chances of incurring any severe joint liability thus compromising their interest.
Types or ways of holding joint ownership property
There are two ways of becoming a joint owner of a real estate property. These are –
- You willingly enter into joint ownership of property agreement with some other person; and/or
- You are appointed as a joint owner through a will, inheritance, gift, or trust to share joint ownership rights in a real estate property. This designation can be according to your choice or against it.
In both above cases, you should know what type of joint ownership property have you become part of. Therefore, it is important to consult a real estate attorney or a joint property ownership dispute lawyer for laws regarding joint ownership of property.
Here in this section of the article, we present a few details about the three common types of joint property ownership.
Tenancy in Common (TIC)
Two or more persons can form a TIC or “Tenancy in Common’ ownership agreement. In this, each person holds an ownership percentage in the property according to the amount of his/her investment in it.
This means that not all the joint owners need to have an equal ownership interest in the property.
In cases where one of the owners dies in a TIC agreement, his share passes on to his heirs.
Joint ownership property acquired under a ‘Joint Tenancy’ agreement works almost in the same manner as a TIC joint ownership. However, the only difference here is that when the co-owner dies, his interest passes on to the remaining joint owners. This is also known as the ‘Right to Survivorship’.
No interest of the deceased joint owner passes on to his/her estate or heirs in a joint tenancy.
Tenancy by the Entirety
The case of having joint property ownership under ‘Tenancy by the Entirety’ is for married couples only. Any decision regarding the use or sale of joint ownership property requires the consent of both spouses.
In the case of the death of one spouse, his/her share transfers to the other under the right of survivorship.
Rights and duties of co-owners in a joint ownership real estate property
The right and duties of each co-owner in a joint ownership real estate property agreement is simple.
None of the things in the above-mentioned examples that may lead to any ownership and property dispute, should ever occur.
The existence of an example mentioned above clearly means a breach of duty and abolishment of a joint owner’s right.
How to deal with joint property ownership disputes?
The best approach to alleviating any possible chances of joint property ownership disputes is to appoint a real estate attorney. By appointing a joint property ownership lawyer from the very beginning, you can save yourself from much trouble in the future.
Our expert lawyers at the Attorneys Real Estate Group can help in lawfully formalizing a joint property agreement. Such an agreement will provide conclusive evidence as to the rights and obligations of each joint owner. In case of any joint property dispute, this agreement, and laws regarding joint ownership of property will become helpful.
In the absence of a formal joint property ownership agreement, the rights and obligations of each co-owner can vary. This variation can be according to the state laws regarding joint property ownership and any terms agreed between the partners.
In a severe joint property ownership dispute, the joint owners can seek arbitration. Many disputes are resolvable under the professional supervision of a legal counselor, preferably a joint property ownership dispute attorney.
If this does not help, parties can go for litigation and file a lawsuit with the help of a real estate attorney.
In cases of joint property ownership disputes where co-owners appoint a court to decide the matter, partition action may be used.
A ‘Partition Action’ is a type of lawsuit used in deciding joint property ownership disputes. In this, joint owners ask a court to decide between each joint owner’s rights and obligations.
The probable outcome of a ‘Partition Action’ lawsuit is the division of real estate property between the co-owners. A court may either –
- Physically divide the share of each joint owner in the property; or
- Order for the property to be sold and then divide the sale proceeds between the joint owners. The sale of a real estate property in such cases can be done privately or through a public auction.
All costs incurred during the partition action lawsuit will be paid out from the proceeds of the sale. In case of division, the court will decide the division of all such costs between the co-owners.
But just like most other lawsuits, there is a downside to a partition action lawsuit. It consumes unnecessary time, is expensive, and can cause emotional setbacks to the parties involved.
Thus, joint property owners should try using alternative approaches outside the court of law. This is only possible when a competent real estate attorney is hired. An expert real estate lawyer can guide towards favorable outcomes under laws regarding joint property ownership.
Real estate lawyers and joint property dispute attorneys near me
The probability of having a conflict between co-owners of a property tends to exist naturally. It is an inherent feature of the very nature of the relationship that exists between real estate co-owners. This makes its occurrence highly unavoidable.
But remember that it happens all the time. However, any unresolved issues can become bigger problems creating more differences between joint owners if timely action is unnecessarily delayed.
For example, a slight mistake or ambiguity in understanding a co-owners opinion or act regarding some important matter can impact other co-owners.
As a real estate joint owner, if you see this happening or feel like losing control over any such situation, consulting a real estate attorney is the right choice.
Our team of real estate lawyers at Attorneys Real Estate Group has years of experience in laws regarding joint ownership of property. Just like yours, we have helped settle many joint property ownership disputes.
Simply, give us a call at 916-702-8443 or visit our website at Attorneysre.com. You can also get free legal consultation by filling in the form at this link. One of our attorneys will get back to you as quickly as possible and will be glad to assist you. We look forward to welcoming you soon.