While all property investors want smooth real estate purchasing experiences, that is not always the case. When legal disputes arise in either commercial or residential property transactions, having an experienced real estate attorney on your side will help protect your investment. Trying to handle a real estate dispute successfully on your own is not advised, as the process can be incredibly complicated. Real estate disputes often involve tense, emotional negotiations since they usually involve a person or company’s most valuable asset. From multimillion-dollar homes to ten-thousand-foot warehouses, the stakes are high. Property owners and purchasers will need experienced real estate litigation attorneys to protect their interests when disputes arise.
Resolving real estate disputes is not a simple process because property law is so complex. There are many common disputes that can put a real estate purchase in jeopardy. Multiple parties may find themselves entangled in conflict, including contractors, developers, property owners, investors, lenders, and others. A common dispute scenario that requires the assistance of a real estate attorney is when a property is jointly owned by two or more parties who disagree on the property’s use. When the parties cannot agree, a partition action may be necessary. These disputes can range from one property owner wanting to improve the area but the other wanting to sell the property to another who wants to start a factory while another wants to build a farm. Because these interests diverge, but the owners have equal shares of the property, a third party may need to be brought in to assist in the matter. A real estate attorney can help with negotiations and compromise, or if neither is possible, can begin the process of a partition action. This type of legal action can divide property into shares for each owner so they may move forward with whatever plans they desire.
There are two main forms of land ownership partition – actual partition (in-kind partition) and partition by sale. An actual partition divides jointly owned property and provides a portion to each owner that is smaller than the total previously owned area. This is the most common form of partition and is used when owners disagree on a property’s use. Each party/owner may not be fully happy with having a smaller property, but it is a reasonable solution that parties can typically agree upon. A partition by sale occurs when the property is sold in its entirety and the parties involved split the proceeds. This is a more drastic action, and is typically used when an actual partition is difficult to complete or the parties cannot agree upon actual partition terms. If there are small buildings on a property that cannot be divided evenly through an actual partition, a partition by sale may be the preferred solution for all parties involved. Each party can then use their portion of the sale proceeds as they see fit.
Most partition actions are voluntarily initiated by the parties. In other words, all property owners have agreed to partition the property so that it may be divided evenly or sold and the proceeds be divided. However, if one of more owners do not agree to the partition, the other owner or owners can file a civil lawsuit to compel partition. An experienced real estate attorney is essential for this process. For court-ordered partition to be successful, a petition must be filed by the parties wanting to divide or sell the property. The court will take various factors into account in making its decision, including all of the rights, titles, and interests of the property owners. Because the state typically does not want to force an individual to co-own property if they don’t want to, the partition will most likely be granted if the plaintiff or plaintiffs meet all relevant criteria. The court will generally order surveys and appraisals of the property and co-owners will be required to show accounting records of their income from the property, including contributions made toward mortgage debt, insurance, taxes, and any improvements made. To ensure all co-owners are aware of the partition suit, there are a variety of required notices that must be sent to all parties involved.
The court will order the partition to be done either in-kind or by sale. Court-ordered partition may be fought, which will require the assistance of a knowledgeable real estate attorney who understands the statute of limitations, delays, and other public policy issues related to Texas property ownership.
Many real estate disputes present unforeseen challenges and diverse issues that require specific experience and skill. Successful outcomes begin with extensive knowledge and experience, which the civil litigation attorneys at Burford Perry LLP possess in droves. We have represented contractors, property owners, real estate developers, investors, lessors, and lenders in a wide variety of real estate disputes, including both individuals and large businesses in residential and commercial real estate litigation. If you or your business is in need of a lawyer to handle a real estate dispute, contact us to learn about your options in a consultation.