When Siblings Fight Over Jointly Owned Property

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One of the most common types of property disputes over the course of US history is when brothers and sisters own property jointly but have disagreements over any number of issues regarding the property. For example, a brother might want to sell the family home they grew up in to obtain cash proceeds while a sister intends on raising her own family there. Or one sibling wants to build condominiums on a family plot of land while the other wants to keep the family drug store that has been there for decades. And while these are major questions regarding the ownership rights of property, many smaller but still vitally important disputes can arise. Usually, brothers and sisters find themselves as joint owners of property somewhat involuntarily through a family devise or inheritance. When this happens, the siblings may find themselves in a joint property dispute requiring the guidance of a real estate attorney.

What Joint Ownership Means in California

Whether siblings have a joint tenancy or a tenancy in common ownership structure, California law states that all owners have the right to fully occupy and use the property. They also have a right to share in profits from the property. Thus, if a brother and a sister own a building and land bequeathed to them as joint tenants or tenants in common, they both have the right to fully use and occupy every part of the building and the land and to do with it as they please.


Of course, when their intended uses clash or when issues arise over money either being put into the property or coming out of the property occur, disputes can occur relating to:

  • Selling the property to a willing buyer
  • Making improvements and changes to property
  • Who should pay for improvements, changes, repairs, etc.
  • Who should receive rents and other profits (e.g. oil extraction, mineral rights, etc.)

Resolving a Joint Property Dispute Among Siblings

In a perfect world, siblings can reach an agreement regarding how they should deal with issues relating to the property. They can come up with a co-ownership agreement in which they agree to issues such as who has access to what portion of the property, who should pay for improvements, how rent profits should be split, and so on.

But when such an agreement is not possible on their own, working with a real estate attorney can help in reaching a settlement between the siblings which might involve reaching a co-ownership agreement, having one sibling buy the other sibling out, selling the property and splitting the profits, among other options. When a settlement is not possible, then the siblings may need to go to court to have a judge resolve the dispute by ordering a partition of the land. Again, an experienced real estate attorney can guide you in your best, most economical means of resolving a joint property dispute with a sibling.

Work With an Experienced Los Angeles Joint Property Dispute Attorney

Attorney Laine T. Wagenseller of Wagenseller Law Firm has published numerous articles on real estate law and works with individuals and businesses across Southern California in resolving real estate matters, including joint property disputes. Contact Wagenseller Law Firm today to schedule a consultation in order to evaluate your dispute and begin working towards a positive resolution.

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