The Co-Owner of Our House Refuses to Allow Us to Sell – Can We Force a Sale by Partition?

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“My husband’s grandmother gave him $25,000 of his ‘inheritance’ as a down payment on his first home. This also placed her on the mortgage and the deed in the state of TX. (I don’t know if this is a normal procedure in all states.) It is now 9 years later and he is married and we are ready to sell the house and relocate due to a new job. I have never been put on the deed of the house at any point. The grandmother now refuses to cooperate in the sale of the house in any way. Is there any way to either force the sale of the house or to sign his half of the house back to her and make her responsible for the mortgage payments? Up to this point, we have made ALL mortgage payments, repairs, etc. She is owner in name only. We must be able to sell or get out from under this mortgage to relocate to the new city and are at a loss as to what to do. Is a “quit claim deed” an option for us to use to give her our half?”

[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.]

For future reference, this is the sort of situation that makes it a good idea to have a written co-ownership agreement whenever multiple people buy property together. An ounce of prevention.

Giving her half the house is a bad idea for at least two reasons. First, it does not relieve your husband of his obligation to pay the bank, since he personally signed that promissory note. Second, you would be giving her half a house. Hardly a fitting reward for making your life difficult.

You may want to explore putting some informal pressure on grandma: perhaps having a relative she trusts explain that if she doesn’t agree to a fair buy-out, you’ll be forced to sue her. But if all else fails, there is a legal way to get out of being stuck as co-owners.

When co-owners of property can’t get along, there is a legal proceeding known as “partition” that allows you to force the sale of the property, with each party taking away their fair share of the proceeds (or one party can buy the other one out). There is some cost involved in doing this, of course, but probably less than half the value of the house.



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Author: House Attorney

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