Saturday, February 28, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

House divided – former unmarried couple navigates real estate law

By
From page C3 | December 15, 2012 |

Q:  Dear Tim: My significant other and I have been living together for almost 18 years.  We’ve never been married, though most of our friends don’t even know we aren’t married. We bought a home together in 2001 and have lived there ever since.  This year we separated and I moved out. Now I’m concerned about the house.  If he keeps living there, does he have to make the payments?  I’d like to sell it and take the money so I can move closer to my family.
A: I’m assuming you don’t have any written agreement between the two of you that dictates how the house is to be handled if this situation occurs.  Had you both had the foresight to have what is called a, “Tenancy in Common Agreement” drafted, you could refer to that document for guidance in managing the property.
If you had been married, the divorce court would decide how the property was to be handled.
However, you now find yourself falling squarely into the world of real estate law.
Regular readers of this column are, by now, aware that real estate law has roots going back thousands of years.  Unlike family law, real estate law doesn’t care about the relationship between the parties.  Whether you thought of yourselves as husband and wife is irrelevant.  Instead, it treats all parties as sophisticated, emotionally detached investors.
The first thing you want to do is take a look at your deed.  If you don’t have a copy you can get one from the County Recorder’s office.
There are two different ways in which you can hold title with another person to whom you aren’t married.  The way you hold title affects what happens to the property if someone dies.  Since you have split up, I assume you don’t want him to inherit your half of the property.
The deed will tell you if you hold title as a joint tenant or as a tenant in common.
As a tenant in common, your one-half interest in the property will pass to your heirs, just like the rest of your estate.
Joint tenancy automatically passes your interest to the surviving owner at the instant of your death. If you hold as a joint tenant, you may want to see an attorney about changing the way you hold title.
My point is that this is something critical that you ought to be considering.
Now, to answer your question directly.
You are both on the hook for mortgage payments, taxes, etc.  Just because you choose not to live in the property doesn’t mean you are not responsible for the investment.  You could move back to the property if you want to.  You could even rent out your one-half interest to a complete stranger, which should give your co-owner some food for thought during negotiations.
If you can’t reach an agreement about selling the house you’ll have to file a lawsuit known as a partition action.  In a partition action each party will have the opportunity to buy the other party out, or the court will order the property sold.
The arguments that are raised during a partition action involve the distribution to the owners of the sales proceeds. Often, one party will argue they’ve put more money into the property and should get a bigger share of the proceeds.
Because of the time and expense of going through a court process, I hope the two of you can work out the details for getting the property sold.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    US / World

     
    Man shoots wife, himself at Northern Calif. retirement home

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    Thieves crash car through electronics store in San Francisco

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Some California farmers to go without federal water

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 2 Comments | Gallery

    US appeals court: Marathon bombing trial can stay in Boston

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Congress OKs 1-week bill to keep Homeland Security open

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments | Gallery

    US rescinds rule requiring judges to move to Guantanamo

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    US, Liberia start 1st formal test of ZMapp Ebola virus drug

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Woman knocked out by eggs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    Unmasking of ‘Jihadi John’ as a London lad shocks Britain

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    Mexico official: Police capture top capo ‘La Tuta’ Gomez

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Well-educated ‘Jihadi John’ no surprise to experts

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Opinion

    How GOP can resolve immigration mess

    By Ramesh Ponnuru | From Page: A8, 8 Comments

     
    Unlikely winners of Greece’s surrender on euro

    By Mark Gilbert | From Page: A8

    A remedy for veterans’ care

    By Bill Frist And Jim Marshall | From Page: A8

     
    Editorial Cartoon: Feb. 28, 2015

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    .

    Living

    Today in History: Feb. 28, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Feb. 28, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: Feb. 28, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

     
    Poem about heaven helps dog owners when beloved pet dies

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

    Coca-Cola bottle as art? Atlanta’s High Museum takes a look

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Entertainment

     
    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B9

    .

    Sports

    Thompson scores 25 points, Warriors rout Raptors 113-89

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Casey McGehee’s move to Giants a homecoming of sorts

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Vaca advances three wrestlers into semis at Masters

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

     
    Spurs snap 4-game skid, beat short-handed Kings 107-96

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    MLS Commissioner Garber: Hopeful season will start on time

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Travis Kvapil’s NASCAR car stolen from hotel before race

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    McIlroy to miss cut at Honda Classic; Reed leads

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    NHL fines Sharks’ Couture $5,000 for tripping from behind

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Browns agree to terms with quarterback Josh McCown

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Kyle Busch released from hospital following foot surgery

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Bulls expect Derrick Rose back this season from knee surgery

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Testimony: Several Hernandez texts are missing from phone

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Approaching ‘last call’ for NHL GMs to tweak rosters

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    PGA Tour to move Match Play to Texas

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Notre Dame president credited for transforming school dies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    This date in sports history for Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    .

    Business

    Gas prices soar in California as supply shrinks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    5 reasons US economy is stronger than Q4 GDP suggests

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

    Tribes from around US gather to discuss legal marijuana

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Uber says database containing driver info was breached

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    Signed contracts to buy US homes rise to 18-month high

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Fiat Chrysler recalls 467K SUVs for possible stalling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Southwest nearly done inspecting planes that were grounded

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    .

    Obituaries

    Gabriel T. Traub

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

     
    Maria Kraszewski

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Home Seller 2/28/2015

    Right at Home: Decor made of bicycle parts

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2Comments are off for this post | Gallery

    Real estate transactions for Feb. 28, 2015

    By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3

    Average US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 3.80 percent

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3