Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

Hello all! I inherited a house with my uncle and I do not want to be an owner with him. However, he does not want to buy me out or sell. How do I get out of this agreement?

Below are some of the facts:

-inherited the house when my dad passed away (currently worth about $1.7M)

-own it 50/50 with my uncle

-his half is owned through an LLC (which is not in good standing with the state according to the CA secretary of state records)

-I think we own it as tenants in common, but I have had trouble getting a copy of the deed to verify that

-my uncle lives in the house and pays me rent each month, but we don’t have a formal agreement

-I’ve tried to get my money out in the past (even offering him a below-market buy-out option) and he wouldn’t do it (despite going pretty far along in the process before flaking)

-Now I really just want to get my money out

-My uncle would ideally like to buy me out, but we’ve been talking for about 6 months and it doesn’t seem like he has the cash or credit to be able to do that. He is very resistant to selling, though I’ve told him that me be the only option bc I need my money out.

-he said he had a lawyer, but as far as I know he hasn’t actually engaged anyone

Asked on 7/21/17, 8:03 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Gerald Dorfman Dorfman Law Office

You need to get a lawyer and at least start a partition action. Most of these types of cases settle, but if yours does not, at least it will end with you getting your share.

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Answered on 7/21/17, 8:26 am
Susan Murphy Advocate Legal

I agree with the prior attorney's answer except I would add a cause of action for quiet title. The title will be resolved based on recorded documents and your father's will. The grant deed to you and your uncle should have been recorded and would then be available at the county recorder.

It will take a while, but the court will force a sale and get you extricated.

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Answered on 7/21/17, 2:43 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

I wouldn't expect there to be a grant deed, since you inherited the house. I do agree that a suit for "partition" under California Code of Civil Procedure sections 872 - 874.225 is your best bet. The name "partition" comes from the old-time practice of courts in splitting parcels that were co-owned by heirs, etc. who were unhappy with the situation. In more modern times, an actual physical division is usually impractical or impossible due to urbanization, zoning laws, etc., so nowadays partition is usually done by a court-ordered sale of the property and "partition" of the money received from the sale. The court has the power (and duty) to take into consideration not only the percentage ownerships of the (now former) co-owners, but also to adjust their percentages to take into account other equities such as unequal contributions made to maintenance and improvements, rent collected, and other factors. Importantly, a high percentage of partition suits that get filed result in the once-warring co-owners reaching some kind of privately-negotiated settlement in which either one buys out the other or they agree to list and sell the property before the court action gets very far. When the reluctant one sees the inevitable, he/she comes to his/her senses and saves the cost of litigation and the uncertainty of a sale under court supervision.

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Answered on 7/22/17, 12:42 pm

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