It is, of course, not uncommon for multiple persons to jointly own real estate in Florida. Even if these folks are family members, it can still be quite difficult (or even impossible) to get all of the owners to agree on the multitude of issues that can arise for property owners. For example, one joint owner may want to rent the property at issue, another may wish to sell, and a third may wish to live on the property. Obviously, they cannot all get what they wish.
A partition suit is often the method of addressing these concerns. Any owner of the property at issue may file a lawsuit asking that the property be sold and the expenses and interests of the respective owners be addressed in the lawsuit. Even if one or more owners do not wish to sell, the judge may still potentially force a sale. Of course, if all of the respective owners can agree on the terms of the prospective sale, then the process tends to be a lot smoother for all involved.
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In many cases, the party bringing the partition action is entitled to recover some or all of the attorney’s fees incurred in the partition suit. Moreover, the judge also has the ability to potentially award attorney’s fees to the other parties in such a lawsuit if they retain counsel. In this regard, it is all the more beneficial for the respective owners to agree on as many issues as possible as the attorney fees incurred by all of the parties may impact what each individual owner ultimately receives from the eventual sale of the property.
In some cases, especially if the property at issue is unoccupied land, it may be possible to literally partition or divide the property up among the respective owners rather than forcing a sale. Of course, if the property has improvements, such as a house, then it is not generally feasible to split a home, but the lawsuit is still called a partition suit.
The sale itself can be conducted as either a public or a private sale. As a general matter, the sellers of real estate would probably gain a better sale price through private sale, but if they are unwilling or unable to agree, then the judge may order a public sale. Once again, cooperation among the owners will generally benefit them all.
While an owner of property can often force the sale of such property through a partition action even if the other owners do not wish to sell, there are some possible defenses to such a lawsuit just as there are with most other legal proceedings. For example, there may be issues with the chain of title or other factors that make partition inappropriate.
If partition is ordered by the judge, then the parties may be entitled to reimbursement for property expenses such as repairs, taxes, and insurance through the partition action. Additionally, if one of the owners is residing at the respective property and has excluded the others from access, then sometimes a reasonable rental amount may be awarded to the other owners.
Any owner of the property at issue may file a lawsuit asking that the property be sold and the expenses and interests of the respective owners be addressed in the lawsuit.
If you are a joint owner of real estate in Florida and would like to speak to a qualified attorney as to your rights and options regarding partition or other issues, then please contact our offices. The real estate litigation attorneys at Bogin, Munns, & Munns, P.A. have handled many such claims and would be happy to meet with you, answer your questions, and address your concerns. The firm employs several experienced real estate litigation attorneys that are available for consultations and assistance at any one of our ten offices.
– Joseph Shoemaker is a litigation attorney with Bogin, Munns, & Munns, P.A., a full service law firm with offices in Orlando, Clermont, Kissimmee, Daytona Beach, Ocala, Melbourne, Gainesville, and Leesburg, Florida. Mr. Shoemaker works out of the Leesburg office of the firm and welcomes questions and comments regarding the above and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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NOTICE: The article above is not intended to serve as legal advice, and you should not rely on it as such. It is offered only as general information. You should consult with a duly licensed attorney regarding your Florida legal matter, as every situation is unique. Please know that merely reading this article, subscribing to this blog, or otherwise contacting Bogin, Munns & Munns does not establish an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Should you seek legal representation from Bogin, Munns & Munns, any such representation must first be agreed to by the firm and confirmed in a written agreement.