Florida Partition Actions
It is not uncommon for people to co-own property in Florida, given rising real estate prices. However, too often, co-owners have a falling-out, or one may choose to invest their money closer to home. When that happens, the owners may be able to work out a division of the property themselves, but if they cannot, one may decide to initiate what is known as a partition action. However, if you are the one filing the action, it is important that you understand exactly how to do so; a mistake or omission of details may mean your suit fails, leaving you no better off than when you began.
Division Or Sale?
A partition action is filed by at least one tenant, against one or more other tenants, in the jurisdiction where the land exists (rather than in the area where the tenants live, if the two are different). The plaintiff is generally seeking either a division of the land (known as ‘partition in kind’) or for the property to be sold and the proceeds divided appropriately. The court will usually try to find a way to divide the land without sale, but in some cases, this is simply not tenable – for example, parcels with condominiums or shopping centers on them.
While every case is different, a court will often seek to divide the real property in the fairest, most equitable way, which may mean an unequal division. For example, if one owner paid for 30 percent of the real property’s price, and the other paid 70 percent, it is likely that the court will divide the real property on those same proportions (this may also happen if one tenant paid more in upkeep or property taxes). Simple fairness dictates that the tenant who put less money into the property should receive a lesser share of the proceeds (or a smaller portion of the land).
How To Sell The Property
Since very often the tenants cannot agree on an appropriate way to divide the property in question, a high number of partition actions will involve three commissioners, selected by the court, to evaluate whether the property is divisible or indivisible, and act accordingly. If the commissioners decide that the property is indivisible, the court will order that the property be sold, usually at public auction, though in some situations, a private judicial sale may happen if the parties are able to agree on the specifics.
Once the property has been sold, the proceeds will be divided among the tenants according to their percentage of interest in the land or the business on it, though any mortgages, liens, or other obligations will be paid off first, and Florida law requires that both parties contribute to paying costs and attorney’s fees. After costs have been paid, the matter is considered closed, and the legal bonds between the former co-tenants essentially severed. As one might imagine, the sale is final, with no way to recover the property, regardless of whether every tenant is satisfied with the case’s outcome.
Contact A Florida Real Estate Attorney
Holding real estate in tandem with another person can be a positive for many years, but if you cannot agree on how the property should be maintained, partition may be the best option. A Tampa real estate attorney can help answer your questions and determine your plan of attack if a partition action is in your future. Attorney Alicia Seward and the Seward Law Office are ready and willing to try and assist you. Call our offices today to schedule a consultation.