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tenants in commom duplex issues

Discussion in 'Joint Ownership' started by Nancy Wagner, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. Nancy Wagner

    Nancy Wagner Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    8 years ago I purchased a duplex with a friend (stupid, stupid me) The deed says tenants in common but there is no other document that states the rules of the tenants in common. The first several years were fine but now her hoarding has spreading to my side of the yard. I put up a fence to keep here junk and mess out. I understand this probably wasn't in line with a tenants in common idea. She was angry and informed me that it wasn't. And I understand tenants in common includes our access to the entire property. Though I don't want access to her "side" of the property. I rented my side of the property and house to a friend and she was angry I didn't consult her on my decision. Does she have to have a decision in everything I do in my house and my side of the property? I understand there may not be a "my side" but can I make any unilateral decisions without her? And could I put in a request to partition the property and how would I do that? All the bills are separate except the property tax, home owner's insurance and water. If the property is partitioned would that include the property tax and insurance? There is only one access to the water and would cost thousands of dollars to install a 2nd. Please advise what my options are. Thanks a bunch.
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I think the following will answer a lot of your questions. I got it off the internet. You might not like the answers, especially the ones about sharing your rental income with your co-tenant and not blocking off part of the yard.

    TENANCY IN COMMON

    Tenancy in common is the default form of cotenancy, meaning that except for married couples or registered domestic partners (who are presumed to acquire all property as community property), individuals who jointly acquire real property own the property as tenants in common unless the conveyancing instrument provides otherwise. Thus, all co-tenancies between unmarried individuals that are not expressly made joint tenancies or partnerships are tenancies in common. The following are a few of the key features of a tenancy in common.

    Ownership and Transfer. Unlike joint tenants, tenants in common can own equal or unequal interests in the real property they acquire, and may acquire their interests from different sources at different times. As a result, every tenant in common has the right to sell or encumber their interest without the knowledge, approval, or consent of their cotenants. However, a tenant in common has no right to convey any cotenant's interest and any such attempted conveyance is void.

    Equal Right to Occupy the Entire Property. Although tenants in common can own unequal interests, unless agreed otherwise in writing, all tenants in common have an equal right to possess and use the entire jointly owned property. Therefore, no cotenant can exclude any other cotenant from any part of the jointly owned property. By extension, because all owners have an equal right to occupy and use the entire property, no tenant in common has the right to collect rent from a cotenant.

    No Survivorship Right. A key feature distinguishing a tenancy in common from a joint tenancy or community property interest is that a tenants in common interest carries with it no survivorship rights. This means that upon the death of a cotenant, the deceased cotenant's interest in the jointly owned property passes to their heirs or devises through their estate. This is unlike a joint tenancy or community property interest, both of which feature survivorship rights, meaning that upon the death of a cotenant, the deceased cotenant's interest vests in their surviving cotenant(s) by operation of law.

    Right to Share in Profits. Because tenants in common have an equal right to use and occupy the entire jointly owned property, any rent received from third parties belongs to all cotenants in accordance with their proportionate interest in the property. Similarly, all tenants in common share responsibility for property-related operating and maintenance expenses. However, a tenant in common cannot require his or her cotenants to contribute or reimburse them forimprovements to the property.

    Right to Partition. Absent special circumstances, each tenant in common has an absolute right to partition all jointly owned real property. Partition is the procedure for terminating and dividing all jointly owned real property into separate and exclusive individual interests. Partition can occur by one of three methods: (1) sale, whereby the property is ordered by a Court to be sold and the proceeds split in accordance with each owner's percentage interest in the property; (2) physical division, whereby each cotenant acquires an exclusive interest in a portion of the formerly jointly owned property; or (3) appraisal, whereby one cotenant acquires the interests of other cotenants based on a court ordered appraisal.


    Co Ownership of Real Property In California | Last & Faoro |

    Apparently yes.

    Apparently not.

    You hire a lawyer and file a partition lawsuit. Count on spending a barrel full of money unless the lawsuit scares her into a quick settlement that allows subdividing the property.

    The property would be subdivided into separate parcels with separate deeds, similar to owning a townhome or condo where you share just one wall but have separate ownership.

    Each side would then have its own property tax and homeowners insurance.

    Then you'd better resign yourself to paying it if you want out from under this arrangement completely.

    You've left out any mention of a mortgage. Is there a mortgage? Are you both co-borrowers of the same loan? That's certainly going to be a problem.

    There is another option. One of you can buy out the other and own both sides.
     
  3. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    No. However, renting half of the property is a decision that should have been discussed. Keep in mind that, since you admit there is no written agreement between the two of you regarding the use of the property, the references to "my house" and "my side of the property" are legally meaningless.

    You told us that you did exactly that, so the answer to this is necessarily yes.

    You understand that "partition[ing] the property" means a forced sale, right? Yes, you can do that, and the way to do it would be to file a lawsuit. It would be far better to offer to let your friend buy out your interest or for you to buy out hers or jointly and voluntarily put the property up for sale.

    You seem to be talking about subdividing the property, not partitioning it. Whether that's even possible isn't possible for us to determine, and you'd need to consult with a local attorney. It would probably cost quite a bit more to do it than merely installing a second water meter.
     
  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    A very unique, but certainly similar to the roommate issues that appear regularly.
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Except with a heck of a lot more money at stake.
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Yes sir, the stakes are higher, the issues are similar.
     

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