Under Florida law, different forms of joint ownership permit multiple individuals to own one property with certain legal conditions. Tenancy in common and joint tenancy with rights of survivorship are examples of property co-ownership in Florida.
Can one of the co-owners force the sale of a house in Florida? Keep reading on to find out.
Forced Sale of Florida Property – The Essentials
If the co-owners of a property in Florida cannot agree on how they should use, manage, or administer the asset, one of them has the right to ask the appropriate court for partition. Different situations may create legal grounds for partition, such as:
- A property owned by multiple siblings inherited as part of their parent’s will
- A property owned by a couple going through a divorce
- A property owned by an unmarried couple who has joint ownership of its title
- A property owned by a dissolving business
- A property owned by friends or associates that cannot agree on how they must deal with the asset
Residential properties are also subject to partition actions in Florida. It is not unusual to find cases involving family members who inherited a house involved in partition lawsuits. This type of situation tends to be more complex, as family disputes tend to arise if something is not done quickly.
Before filing for partition, the parties must seek proper legal counseling to identify whether it is possible to resolve the dispute without a court-ordered sale.
Partition in Kind vs. Partition by Sale – Taking a Closer Look
Once the plaintiff has filed a partition lawsuit in the appropriate court, the judge will determine the ownership rights of each party involved in the case. If the plaintiff’s claim is legitimate, the court may proceed with a partition.
Depending on the property’s characteristics, the judge may order a partition in kind or a partition by sale.
A partition in kind refers to an equitable physical division of the property. In such cases, a large property without improvements would be divided into multiple land plots according to each party’s interest. This type of division is often used for farms or rural land.
Conversely, partition by sale is the most common method of equitable division for properties where a partition in kind is not feasible. Instead of physically dividing the property, the court orders the sale of the property.
In most cases, the sale happens through an auction or is conducted by a court-designated clerk or magistrate. Once the house is sold, the court performs the equitable division of the proceeds among the co-owners.
Each co-owner receives an amount proportional to his or her share of interest in the property. Depending on the willingness of the parties involved to reach an agreement, even a buyout agreement would not provide a solution without court intervention.
Filing a Partition Lawsuit in Florida – As Provided by Law
If someone has no interest in the property, this party has no right to file a partition lawsuit. Florida Statutes §64.031 specifies that “the action may be filed by any one or more of several joint tenants, tenants in common, or coparceners, against their cotenants, coparceners, or others interested in the lands to be divided.”
Upon receipt of the complaint, Florida Statutes §64.051 provides that “the court shall adjudge the rights and interests of the parties, and that partition be made if it appears that the parties are entitled to it.”
The same statute adds that if “the rights and interests of plaintiffs are established or are undisputed, the court may order partition to be made, and the interest of plaintiffs and such of the defendants as have established their interest to be allotted to them, leaving for future adjustment in the same action the interest of any other defendants.”