Can a family owned property be sold without one member's consent? 35 Answers as of August 20, 2012

My three sisters and I own a property. It has been in our family for almost 60 years. My grandparent’s intent was for the property to remain in the family but my sisters want to sell it. Can they force me to sell if I am willing to take over all ongoing expenses?

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
Assuming everyone's name is on the deed, they can only sell the property with everyone's consent or with a court order for the sale.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 8/20/2012
Jay W. Moreland, P.A.
Jay W. Moreland, P.A. | Jay W. Moreland
If the four of you own a property, all four of you must agree to sell it on whatever terms you all accept. If you cannot agree, there is a court proceeding called a partition.

A partition is a court procedure for a forced sale of the property at a court auction and the proceeds will be divided equally among the four of you.

All of you can bid on the property and the highest bidder gets the property whether it is one of you or an outsider. Unless one of you has enough money to bid its full value, the property will likely sell for less than fair market value at an auction.

Recognizing this the four of you might agree to sell it to one of you or sell it commercially to try to get more money for it.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/20/2012
Horn & Johnsen SC
Horn & Johnsen SC | Dera L. Johnsen-Tracy
Your sisters could hypothetically sell their two-thirds interest in the property without your permission. However, they would need to obtain a court order before they could force you to sell your one-third interest in the property.

Realistically, it would be very difficult to find a third-party buyer willing to purchase a two-thirds interest in real estate. From a legal standpoint, if they both wish to sell the property, there is a good possibility that a judge would order you to either purchase their interest in the property at fair market value (i.e., buy them out) or order the sale of the entire property.

To avoid unnecessary litigation, you may wish to contact a real estate attorney and try to negotiate a buy-out of your sisters' interest through private financing such as a land contract.
Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
Replied: 8/20/2012
Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
No buyer would purchase the property unless all owners joined in the sale. I am assuming that the property is held in your four (4) names as "tenants in common". If you are unwilling to sell, your sisters can only sell their undivided one-fourth shares of ownership.

There is a statutory court action to partition property if you and they are stalemated. Unless the entire property is easily divisible into four pieces, the court may well order you to purchase their interests rather than force them to hold onto the property if that is not their desire.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 8/20/2012
Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
If it is owned as joint tenants with full rights of survivorship, they cannot force, if it owned as tenants in common, they can.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry | Charles R. Perry
    Your sisters cannot force you to sell your interest in the property, without getting a court order for the sale and subsequent distribution of the sales proceeds.

    The typical way to obtain that kind of order is through a lawsuit for a "partition" of the property. Your willingness to take over the ongoing expenses in exchange for a promise by your sisters to not sell their interests in the property could be transformed into an enforceable contract.

    The simple fact that you are willing to pay those expenses, however, would not prevent a court from ordering a sale if your sisters filed a lawsuit for partition.

    You could also negotiate an arrangement to buy your sister's interests in the property, if you are financially able to do this.

    If your and your sisters come to an agreement on the property, I would suggest you hire competent counsel to draft the contract. That way, you are better assured that your agreement is clear, and that it satisfies something called "The Statute of Frauds." Best of luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski
    Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski | Gerald A. Bagazinski
    You should contact an attorney. It depends on how you won the property. If it is held as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship then they cannot compel you to sell the property. IF the property is owned as Joint Tenants and not Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship to Tenants in Common they could file a partition action. If you have any questions, please contact me.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Jeffre Crandall, Attorney at Law | Jeffre Crandall
    Its called a Partition action.

    Basically, its a day in court with the judge and your sisters asking for a forced sale of the property. You can buy them out of their 2/3rds appraised value, or you can take 1/3rd of the (forced) sale price.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C.
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C. | James T. Weiner
    It depends upon how you hold title..If your sisters and you hold it as "tenants in common" they can force a sale by going to court If you hold it as "joint tenants with a right of survivorship" .. everyone has to agree to sell it .. an a court cannot force a sale.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Candace K Ladley, Attorney | Candace Kay Ladley
    You can always purchase your sisters' interests in the property. Have an appraisal done and then offer to purchase their shares of the property.

    If you do not want to do that, they can always petition the court to have the property sold and the proceeds divided up among you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    Yes. If you steadfastly refuse, they can file for "partition" of the property. In almost all cases, the property cannot be "partitioned" into equal shares, and so the result will be a court-ordered sale of the property.

    This will be expensive, and you will likely not get offers when the court has ordered the sale that would be as good as a standard market listing court-ordered sales will draw bargain-hunters.

    So do your best to work this out with your sisters, in a written agreement. It is far and away best if you can buy your sisters out, if you really want to keep the property. Chances are at least one of your sisters could use the money from the sale.

    Maybe you can buy one out for cash, buy another out on a contract, stay co-tenants with one. Check in your county to see if there is mediation available. In Lincoln County there is a free mediation service. Work things out.

    And a personal note: your family has been in your family forever. The property has only been around for 60 years. I'm prepared to assert that your grandfather would be more concerned that the family stay together than that any piece of ground continue to be owned by the family.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Mike Yeksavich | Mike Yeksavich
    How is the property owned? E.g., If all owners of record agree they may sell it, If the property is held in trust the trust itself may allow the trustee to sell it. There is a type of court proceeding called a partition action in which a sale may be forced. Unfortunately, what your grandparents desired may not be the answer.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    Yes, unfortunately, this can be done. This would normally take the form of a partition action. The court would order either that you buy out the other interest(s), or that the property be sold. If you can afford to buy out the other interest(s), that would obviously be the best way to proceed.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Olson Law Firm | Edward M Olson
    The short answer is "yes". Unless you enter into a settlement with your family members, the dispute will end up in court. A court could order sale of the property even if no one wants to sell. I recommend that you talk to an attorney right away.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
    The answer is in the deed. If it is a divisible interest which is likely then they can force the sale.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Three against one, the answer is yes, unless you buy out their shares; that might be cheaper in the long run, as your sisters could bring a partition action to force the sale.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Offices of Michael N. Stafford | Michael N. Stafford
    Only the owner of the property can sell the property. If you are an owner they can only force you to sell by obtaining a Court Order however they can sell whatever interest in the property they have.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    If it was the intent that the property remain in the family, there should have been a restriction on the deed, the will or the trust.

    Unfortunately it appears that this did not happen. Therefore there is no restriction and if they want to sell and you are all tenants in common then if it not voluntary sold, then they can go to court for a partition action and divide or sell the property.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    Co-owners can bring a partition action to either divide or sell the property. Unless your grandparent's intent is in writing they will be able to get it partitioned.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Lisa L. Hogreve, LC | Lisa L. Hogreve
    They can force a partition of the property so they may take the value of their share from the property by filing a partition action. If you could offer to buy out your sisters for fair value, you could retain ownership.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Richard J. Keyes Attorney at Law | Richard J. Keyes
    If you own the property with your sisters and they want to sell it, they can force you to sell it by filing a suit for partition of real estate in the circuit court. Even if you agree to pay the expenses of the real estate, your sisters have the right to sell the property if necessary to get their equity out of the property. Your option is either to buy the property from them or file your own partition lawsuit.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law | James Oberholtzer
    The answer to your question depends on the method that was established to hold the property in a group. It could be a trust, a corporation or shared tenancies. You need to look at the documents establishing the method for the initial answer to your question.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC | Barry D. Broome
    They can have the property divided into shares and sell their interest. If you don't want to sell then buy them out and run your own business interest.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Benjamin D Gordon, Attorney at Law
    Benjamin D Gordon, Attorney at Law | Benjamin D Gordon
    The other owners can petition the court to Partition the property. This could force a sale, though if you are interested and have the means, you could buy them out if they were to do so.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
    It's possible because a circuit court (judge) may be able to order the jointly owned Maryland property sold in a sale in lieu of partition.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    The Law Office of Eric J Smith
    The Law Office of Eric J Smith | Eric Smith
    If the property is held in joint tenancy, then all the joint tenants must agree to a sale. If a sale cannot be agreed upon, any joint tenant can seek to partition (divide up) the property in a court of proper jurisdiction. That would allow you to hold an undivided portion of the property and your sisters to hold the other portion to sell.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    GOLD & ASSOCIATES, P.C.
    GOLD & ASSOCIATES, P.C. | KENNETH GOLD
    If you all own the property it can't be sold without your consent or a court order. If you can't work it out someone could petition the court to resolve the issue. If I can be of any help please contact me.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Poole & Poole, P.A. | Wesley R. Poole
    Any one or more of the co-owners can force the sale or division of the property through a partition suit, Chapter 64, Florida Statutes.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    The Law Offices of Tres A. Porter | Tres A. Porter
    No and yes. No they can't just force you to sell without a court order. Yes, they can sue you for what is known as a partition action in which the Court could order you to either buy the interests of your siblings or the property be sold with the proceeds divided.

    Payment of expenses is likely not the main issue. It usually is much more to do with potential profit from the sale.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C.
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C. | Dean T Jennings
    Yes, by filing an lawsuit called a Partition Action.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Whiteford, Taylor, & Preston | Edwin Fee
    Generally, a sale of property requires the consent of all owners, but sometimes a sale in lieu of partition can be used to force the sale of property over the objections of owners who don't want to sell.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Victor Varga | Victor Varga
    Yes, they can force a sale. You're only option is to buy out their interest.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Gordon F. Gault PC | Gordon F Gault
    Yes they can by a lawsuit called partition. There are some exception depending on title is held.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Slotnick & Schwartz
    Slotnick & Schwartz | Leonard T. Schwartz
    They cannot force a sale without a Court Order. The Court can Order it sold depending on the circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/20/2012
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 5 6 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney