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How to Navigate Property Disputes with Partition Expertise


Property co-ownership can be a beneficial way to invest in real estate. However, sometimes, co-owners disagree over how the asset should be used, managed, or sold. Such conflicts may stem from ambiguity or misinterpretation of the respective ownership types. As a result, a property dispute arises, leading to costly legal battles when not handled properly. 

Understanding how to navigate these disputes before the situation escalates is essential. Additionally, it is recommended that property owners consult experienced real estate attorneys for guidance.

Understanding Co-Ownership & Partition Actions

One of the many ownership types is co-ownership, which is when two or more individuals own property together. There are benefits to this, such as:

  • Accessible property investment opportunities
  • Equity and tax advantages
  • Sharing both the costs and risks of property ownership

However, co-owning property also comes with risks, such as adjusting to circumstances that change out of our control, financial liabilities, and legal disputes. When co-owners cannot resolve conflicts, they may seek partition as a legal remedy. In this case, it may be advisable to seek guidance from a partition attorney.

Real estate partition refers to dividing or separating property among co-owners. There are two types of partition:

  • Partition in kind: The property is physically divided among co-owners; each owner receives an ownership percentage.
  • Partition by sale: The property is sold. The court may order a public auction or private sale, and the proceeds are distributed among co-owners according to their investments in the property.

Additionally, partition in kind is usually preferred when the property can be easily divided into distinct portions, such as a large piece of land or a building with multiple units. On the other hand, partition by sale is used when it is not practical to divide the property physically, such as in the case of a single-family home. 

Understanding Property Disputes

A property dispute typically surfaces because co-owners, or other ownership types, disagree over how the property should be used, managed, or sold. Some of the most common types of property disputes include:

  • Usage disagreements: Disagreements over using certain areas or amenities on the property. For example, co-owners of a duplex may raise concerns about one another’s electricity or water usage.
  • Maintenance and repair issues: Disagreements over who is responsible for the property’s maintenance and repair. For example, co-owners may disagree about what needs to be replaced, and lengthy delays in decision-making can lead to property damage and liability for each owner.
  • Financial disagreements: Disagreements over who should pay what amount regarding mortgage, taxes, insurance, and other related expenses. For example, a co-owner who generates less income than another might request that they pay additional costs. This can lead to financial stress and may escalate to legal battles.
  • Management conflicts: This may include problems establishing or adhering to property rules, such as noise complaints and parking issues. It may also involve disagreements over how to use rooms or units, whether to rent out spaces or amenities, etc. 

Moreover, some of the common causes of property disputes include:

  • Inheritance: Inherited properties may generate conflict for beneficiaries over who can use, sell, or manage them. However, these issues can be addressed through probate or when owners create an estate plan.
  • Divorce: Spousal property ownership can create conflict over how the asset should be divided if the couple decides to separate.
  • Sale: Co-owners at a deadlock about whether to sell or keep the property.

Regardless of the dispute or how it arises, it is crucial to resolve it quickly and amicably. Otherwise, all parties involved could risk facing lengthy, stressful, and expensive legal battles. Fortunately, many law firms offer free consultations providing an opportunity to seek professional advice, understand your options, and approach the situation with clarity and confidence.

Navigating Co-Ownership Disputes

It is essential to consider where the property is located. Individual state statutes govern property laws, so partition will vary by state and jurisdiction. Moreover, each case is different and may require alternative strategies. 

In general, when disputes arise, consider the following steps to resolve them amicably:

    1. Determine the interests of each owner: Review title documents, deeds, wills, trusts, or other evidence that establishes each co-owner’s rights and shares in the property.
    2. Communicate with co-owners: Calmly and respectfully explain your point of view and listen to their perspective as well. Attempt to find common ground and seek a mutual compromise.
    3. Seek mediation: If you cannot facilitate a mutual compromise, consider engaging a third party to mediate the issue. This will be faster and less expensive than litigation.
    4. Seek legal advice: If mediation is unavailable or fails, consult a partition attorney. They can advise on your legal options and represent you if necessary. Many law firms offer free consultations.
    5. Consider a partition action: This remedy should be used as a last resort; however, it is sometimes necessary to finally resolve the matter. 

Remember to gather evidence of the issue whenever possible. This will significantly help if your dispute is caught up in litigation. Some examples of evidence include photos or videos of damages, records of communication between co-owners, and the ownership contract. 

Resolving Disputes with Partition Expertise

If you determine it is necessary to pursue a partition action, consider the following to negotiate a fair settlement: 

  • Evaluate the property type: Partition methods depend on property type. Some assets, such as buildings with various units or duplex homes, are easy to divide. Other properties may not be easily divisible, such as single-family homes.
  • Divide the property by investments: If co-owners share similar investments, you can develop a plan to partition the property equally. Conversely, if one owner has more investments in the property than others, negotiate a fair solution according to each party’s investment percentage.
  • Consider financial impact: If it is more practical to partition the property by sale, co-owners should consider how it may affect their finances. The real estate market, taxes, and potential sale proceeds are all examples of financial implications to consider.
  • Negotiate with all parties: Once you outline all the factors involved and the consequences of each action, communicate your findings with the other owner(s). Attempt a mutual compromise before involving the court in your dispute.

These steps can help you quickly resolve the dispute in a way that encourages a fair distribution of property. Additionally, you can minimize stress and legal costs for all parties.


Navigating property disputes can be challenging, but you can effectively resolve them with the right knowledge and approach. Remember to maintain a calm and professional demeanor throughout the process and seek the help of a partition attorney if necessary.

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