Parties can own property in a variety of ways under various state laws. Sometimes commercial properties are owned by individuals or businesses, and the same is true of residential properties. Real property can be owned by a single individual or entity, or it can be co-owned by two or more parties. When real property is co-owned, many kinds of legal issues can arise if one of the owners wants to make changes to that real property or to sell it. When this kind of situation arises, the parties will need to determine what legal options may be available to them, including partitioning the real property.
Since different states have different laws concerning real property ownership, it is important for anyone with questions about owning, buying, or selling real property to consult with a lawyer in their state to ensure all real estate law matters are in compliance with state law. At the same time, since many states have relatively similar laws concerning the purchase, ownership, and sale of real property, it is possible to learn the basics of real estate law.
Different Types of Property Ownership
Depending upon the state a party resides in and what kind of property is going to be purchased, owned, or sold, there are different kinds of property ownership that potential buyers or sellers should know about. Common types of property ownership in the U.S. include the following:
Dividing Jointly Owned Property
Many different scenarios can arise in which co-owners of jointly owned property cannot reach an agreement about how to use the property, or whether to retain or sell the property. Most frequently, these issues will occur when people or entities own property through joint tenancy. When a party owns property through joint tenancy and they want different outcomes for the real property, they may be able to have the property partitioned. Each state has its own laws concerning partition actions, but in effect, a partition action can allow a joint property owner to seek one of the following:
A partition in kind means that the property owner is asking the court literally to divide the physical real property such that both or all owners would end up having rights solely to their own portion of the property. When property is partitioned in kind, the parties can make any decisions they want regarding their portion of the property and do not need to seek permission or an agreement from the other property owners. With a partition by sale, the property owner is asking the court to sell off the property and divide the proceeds among the owners of the property. Typically, a partition by sale will happen if a partition in kind is not practical due to the nature of the real property.
Community property, differently, can be divided in a divorce case in community property states. This kind of property would not typically be subject to a partition action, although spouses who separate but do not divorce ultimately could seek a partition in kind or a partition by sale.
Anyone who has questions about real property law should consult an attorney in their state about a title dispute.