MULTIPLE OWNERS, ONE PIECE OF PROPERTY, AND NOBODY IS GETTING ALONG. WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
It's a good idea at the time: You and your siblings always got along, and your parents left the old homestead to all of you. Or maybe it's that you and your friends or neighbors thought buying that vacation home together seemed like a good idea at the time. Or perhaps it was that available investment property or piece of land, and you and your brother thought you could make a profit. No matter what the situation, sometimes these situations lead to big problems, often impacting longstanding, close relationships.
Take the case of the Tarvezian brothers who brought their concerns to the Middlesex Probate Court, where George Tarvezian sought a Petition to Partition to divide property. The property, a residential building in Watertown owned by both brothers, was not able to be divided between the two of them, and therefore the property had to be sold. Four times the Tarvezians prosecuted this long-running dispute, until finally the court ordered the property to be sold. The property was sold, but there were numerous issues about the collected rents and the various monies spent by each party for expenses, reimbursement of property taxes, attorney's fees, and commissioner's fees. All of these issues had to be resolved as part of the Petition to Partition. While the property was eventually sold as it could not be divided among the owners, according to the court judgment, it was not without significant sums being incurred to do so. The commissioners, who are appointed to sell the property if the parties cannot reach an agreement, are entitled to their reasonable fees. In this case, the Tarvezians incurred approximately $50,000 in commissioners' fees alone. They were faced with various obstacles that were presented by both brothers throughout the extended time that this case proceeded through the Probate Court. Not all Petitions to Partition are as complex or involved as the Tarvezians. However, it is clear that multiple ownership of property should be contemplated and undertaken with a great deal of caution and care, for the present time, and for any future disputes. Anyone contemplating the purchase of a property with other individuals or entities, including good friends, relatives, or a business partner, needs to insure that his/her/their rights are clearly identified in case the relationship and the partnership does not work out. To avoid future problems, consult an attorney prior to signing on the dotted line.