Can One Owner of Jointly Held New Jersey Real Estate Compel the Sale of the Property?
Yes, New Jersey property law allows for the partition of the property, or if a partition is not feasible, then the forced sale of real estate which is owned by more than one person.
Often real estate is owned by several people. This commonly occurs through an inheritance. For example, parents, in their last wills and testaments, bequeath their real property to their three children in equal shares and do not include directives that the property be sold and the proceeds be split equally. During the administration of the estate, the executor transfers title to the property to the three siblings. Often, one of the siblings had been caring for the now deceased parents and is still residing in the property. Yet, the other two siblings want the property to be sold so that they can have their share of the proceeds. This can be a difficult time and can result in significant disputes and turmoil within the family. If the child residing in the property cannot afford to buy out the remaining siblings and cannot (or will not) qualify for a mortgage, the remaining siblings are often at a loss on how to proceed. New Jersey Estate law provides a mechanism to resolve the dispute, the partition action.
If a co-owner of real property refuses to sell the property and divide the proceeds of sale in accordance with each co-owners’ ownership interests, a partition action is the only method available to a person who owns a share of real estate as a tenant in common or joint tenant can separate his or her interest from the other co-owners. If the joint tenants are spouses this remedy is not available to them.) In order to start an action for partition, an action must be filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, usually filed in the county where the property is located.