Florida Partition Action: How to force the sale of your co-owned property

It’s not uncommon for a single property to be jointly owned. Significant others may have purchased a home together, investment-minded friends could have pooled money together to purchase rentable properties, or siblings might have inherited a house or land from a deceased parent. But what happens when there is a serious dispute over how to manage said property or the business or couple parts way, and one of the co-owners wants out? Can you force the sale of your co-owned property in Florida? If this describes your situation, here’s what to do.

When co-owners of a property get into a dispute over how that property is to be divided or used, they need to first get together and try to resolve the issue without relying on the courts. A common remedy is simply for one co-owner to buy the other one out, purchasing his or her part of the property. They can also agree to sell the property. If neither of these are a possibility, and an agreement cannot be made, it falls on the court system to resolve the issue.

Dividing the Asset

Once the plaintiff files a partition lawsuit, the court has two methods for completing the action. It will either order that the property be divided equally among the parties, referred to as partition in kind; or order that the property be sold, and the proceeds divided equally among the co-owners, also known as partition by sale.

With undeveloped tracts of land, a common remedy is what is known as partition in kind, dividing the parcel equally between or among the co-owners. But when the land contains a house, apartment building, condominium, or other commercial structure, things get a bit more complicated, and a partition by sale is called for. This is when the court orders the property to be sold, either through a public auction or a private sale conducted by either a clerk or a magistrate.

What About the Mortgage?

If the property under dispute has a mortgage, then under Florida law the mortgage lender becomes a party to the partition lawsuit, at which time they may legally foreclose the mortgage in the partition lawsuit. This can result in additional as costs for all of the co-owners.

While a best-case scenario outcome for all parties of a Florida partition action is entirely possible, keep in mind, it should be reserved as a last resort, because once this legal action is taken, the owners have no control over the outcome. The process can cause a great deal of uncertainty on the part of the owners surrounding the court’s decision, and in the end, one or more co-owners might not like the outcome.

While it’s always better for co-owners to work through differences out of court, once any party decides take legal action, it’s always best to discuss your particular situation with an experienced, board-certified Florida real estate lawyer before pursuing a partition action. While the right lawyer will be your strongest ally throughout any litigation, he may also be able to help you avoid the court process by negotiating a buyout or a sale to a third party without filing a partition action.

Contact Florida Bar Board-Certified Attorneys David E. Klein, Esq. and Guy Rabideau at Rabideauklein.com. They have the expertise and experience you need to ensure that your interests are protected throughout your real estate transactions in the Town of Palm Beach, across the Palm Beaches and throughout Florida. Contact Rabideau Klein today to discuss the legal implications of your Florida property transactions.

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