The Jensen Litigation Firm, PLLC represents individuals and entities in partition actions. People hire us to understand their property rights and to fight for those rights. If you need an attorney for a dispute with co-owners, we can help. Contact us now to preserve your ownership rights.
What is it like to co-own land?
Co-owning real estate with other people, such as family members, can be a rewarding experience. By pooling resources, you can purchase land for personal or investment purposes and split costs.
However, you may have a headache if your co-owners cannot agree on how to use the property. There may be conflict over who can use the property, how to use it, when to use it, or how costs are split. You may need to consider a buyout arrangement, a sale, or a partition action in court.
What is a partition action in Minnesota?
Partitions are addressed in Chapter 558 of Minnesota Statutes. Minn. Stat. § 558.01 says that when people own land as joint tenants or tenants in common, an action may be brought for a sale or split of the property. Section 558.04 provides for appointment of three referees, although we have seen cases where parties have agreed on one referee to keep costs down. The referees report on whether the property can be carved into pieces for each owner.
If the land can be carved into pieces, the referees will report back to the court and the court may order a split of the land between the owners. The court may equitably apportion costs of the action among co-owners.
If the land can't be split apart, can it be sold in a partition action?
If the land cannot be split apart without great prejudice to owners, then the property must be sold. Small lots, irregular pieces of land, and pieces that cannot be subdivided may require a sale, especially if there are several owners. The sale may be a public auction or a private sale under Minn. Stat. § 558.17. If a private sale is ordered, the property generally must be appraised and the list price approved by the court.
After a sale, the referee reports back to the court for confirmation of the sale and to address any issue with apportioning proceeds, unless there is agreement between the parties.
The court has some equitable power to divide the proceeds and apportion costs of the action (referees, appraisers, auctioneers, realtors, etc.) between the owners. In limited cases, a party may also seek reimbursement for carrying expenses related to the property.
What are some practical suggestions for partition actions?
The statute contemplates that the court will supervise the partition process. This supervision is necessary in contentious cases, and there may be several hearings throughout the case. However, with court permission, cooperative parties may save themselves time and money by stipulating to various issues.
The parties may also consider buyout arrangements during the case, especially if one of the parties wants to keep the property. Also, an owner can generally buy the property at auction or private sale. Due to the nature of a partition action in court, it is generally advisable to be represented by an attorney.
We have the knowledge and experience to handle partition actions. Do not hesitate to contact us if:
- You and your co-owner disagree on use of the property.
- You and your co-owner disagree on the value of the property for purposes of a buyout or sale.
- One owner is carrying the property expenses without any help from the other owner, or an owner is seeking unreasonable reimbursement.
- You simply want to get out of the property as an owner.