By Stuart Cappus
For a variety of reasons, two or more people can find themselves owning a single piece of property together. They could have bought the property together. Some or all could have inherited their interest in the property from a former owner. Regardless of how they came to own a property together, there is always the potential for conflict to arise between or among co-owners with respect to the property. For instance, one may want to sell when the other does not. One may refuse to contribute his fair share to the property taxes or utilities. The co-owners may be unable to agree on the terms of a buy-out of one co-owner by another.
When this occurs, the Partition of Property Act allows one or more co-owners to apply to court for an order that the property be sold or, in some instances, split. If the person or persons applying hold, either individually or together, a minimum 50% interest in the property, the court must order the sale or partition of the property unless the remaining co-owner(s) can convince the court that they will suffer significant hardship if the order is made. Conversely, if the person or persons applying hold less than a 50% interest in the property, the court has discretion to determine whether it is appropriate in all the circumstances to make the order.