The California Court of Appeals recently reviewed a partition lawsuit involving joint owners of real estate. Summers v. Superior Court provides some insight into a partition action and how joint owners of real estate can dissolve a partnership.

The case involved three owners of an investment property. The owners disagreed as to each owners’ respective ownership interest. Determining ownership interests can be difficult depending on how much each owner contributed to the real estate and what the deed states. Because this was an investment property, determining ownership interests would also determine each party’s respective share of rent income received.

One owner filed a motion for summary judgment seeking an order from the Trial Court to force the sale. The Trial Court granted the summary judgment but did not determine each owner’s respective ownership interest. Therefore, if a sale occurred all proceeds from the sale would have to be in an account pending final resolution of the lawsuit.

On appeal, the Court disagreed finding that the trial court should have determined each party’s ownership interest. Therefore, in order for the Court to order the sale of the real estate it should have determined what percentage of ownership each owner had.

Partition actions are somewhat common when co-owners of real estate do not get along and are looking to get out of the partnership. Generally, there is a unilateral right to force a sale by any co-owner meaning that anyone on title can force the sale whether or not the other owners agree. Often times, a more contested dispute arises as to past income and expenses to be reimbursed.

Attorney Anthony Marinaccio handles a wide variety of real estate matters, including partition lawsuits. Please contact Anthony at 818-839-5220 to set up a consultation.