Often, owners of real property find themselves in disagreement with other co-owner(s) over the manner in which their property is cared for and handled.  Sometimes these disputes may be simple in nature and are easily resolved amongst the parties. However, sometimes more severe disputes arise which may result in a denial of access to the subject property or the refusal by one co-owner to pay their proportionate share of either the taxes, insurance and/or maintenance costs.  As unfortunate as these disputes are, there are processes in place to assist property owners with resolving such issues. 

One available remedy is a statutory procedure set forth in Chapter 64 of the Florida Statutes, called a partition action.   A partition action is a lawsuit that may be filed in any county where real property is situated.  The partition action may be brought by one or more of several co-owners of the subject real property.   Once filed, the Court has the authority to enter an order requiring the sale of the subject property and assigns appropriate proportions of the proceeds to each of the respective co-owner.

Assuming each co-owner has equally contributed to the Property; the Court would require the sale of the subject property and split the proceeds equally.  However, if one or more co-owner has paid beyond their proportionate share for expenses including, but not limited to, taxes, insurance or improvements to the Property, the Court may provide for a credit to said co-owner(s).  Such credits are recovered after the Partition sale.  Similarly a co-owner may recover for their share of the fair market rental value for any time period another co-owner retained sole possession of the Property.  Attorney’s fees incurred through the litigation are also payable from the proceeds of any partition sale. 

However, it is important to note that the “sale” the Court would order through a partition action is actually an auction where the Property is sold to the highest bidder.  This process rarely results in a fair market value sale.  As such, we always recommend that our clients resolve the dispute without litigation, if possible.   Such resolutions often include one co-owner selling their interest to another for fair market value, or all co-owners selling the Property to a third party for fair market value.

While amicable resolutions are certainly encouraged, some disputes are such that same is not possible.  In those instances, the partition action process is extremely useful.  Please contact our office and/or visit our real estate webpage if you have concerns regarding your real property.  We are eager to  assist you and will gladly review the facts and circumstances specific to your case.  

Joseph M. Murphy
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Civil Litigation and Board Certified Real Estate Attorney