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Inherited houses and partition actions: What to know

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2023 | Real Estate

Like a lot of people with parents who are “snowbirds” or permanent transplants to Florida, you may one day inherit a house that you neither want nor need.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a big deal for you, because you would simply sell it. However, you didn’t inherit the property all alone. Your siblings are involved, and not everybody will agree to sell. One sibling wants to live in the home and the other wants to use it as a rental.

You just want out, but neither sibling is prepared to buy you out alone and they cannot work together any better than you work with them. You cannot even get them to agree on a price point if a buy-out were to happen.

A partition action may be your saving grace

A partition action is a legal maneuver that can “unstick” you from this situation. It may not make your siblings very happy, but it may be your only option if they won’t budge. Essentially, the law recognizes that people shouldn’t be deprived of their fair use of a piece of property nor their right to sell their ownership share just because their co-owner(s) won’t cooperate.

There are two main ways that a partition action can help you in this kind of scenario:

  • Partition by appraisal: This seeks to establish a fair price for the property on the open market, which then can be used to determine what it would take for your siblings to buy your share. You could sell your share to one or both, depending on who can afford it. One of your siblings may jump at the chance to have more ownership (and more leverage for their goals).
  • Partition by sale: If your siblings cannot afford to buy you out or simply refuse to work with you on anything, the court can simply take over and force the sale.

When you have a complicated real estate situation, don’t let emotions take over. Finding out more about your legal options can help you negotiate from a position of strength.