Can One Co-Owner of a Property Sell Their Interest Without the Permission of the Other Co-Owners?

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“My family has some property located in TX that we all have a divided interest in. One of the family members has informed us that they wish to sell their divided interest, and they are giving us 30 days notice. What are the legal limitations around this type of property sale? How do myself and others in the family protect ourselves from this property being sold at will to whomever the selling party wishes to sell to. Also, can this portion be sold without the rest of the interest owners agreeing to this sale? What legal rights will the purchaser have on the whole property?”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

I’m assuming here that you’re all co-owners (either tenants in common or joint tenants) of the property, as opposed to owning the property through a partnership, corporation, or other entity.

Co-owners generally aren’t forced to remain co-owners forever — you can see how that could be unfair. However, they can’t just sell the whole property without your knowledge or consent, either: if nothing else, you would have to sign the deed.

Your relative could, in theory, sell just her partial interest in the property. The purchaser would have the same rights and obligations that your relative has now. However, for obvious reasons, it’s difficult to find someone who wants to co-own property with strangers. If one of the current co-owners wants to increase their share, however, that could happen. Barring a sale of just the one share, your relative would have to terminate the co-ownership.

The procedure by which co-ownership is terminated is called “Partition”, and it’s a very detailed process regulated by statute. You’ll need to consult with an attorney in your state to get the specifics. However, in general the process is predictable enough that you should be able to get a good idea what would happen if a partition suit was filed. You can then negotiate with the relative who wants out of the property, either to buy them out for cash (taking out a new mortgage on the property if necessary) or to cooperatively sell the property to a third party.

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Author: House Attorney

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