Do you need trusted legal counsel? CONTACT ME TODAY FOR HELP
Real estate partners shake hands after the signing of the contract

Can I Sell My Share of a Jointly Owned Property?

Martinez Law Office, Inc April 5, 2024

Jointly owned property, often referred to as co-ownership, is a form of property ownership where two or more individuals hold the title to a specific piece of real estate. This arrangement is common among family members, business partners, and friends who decide to purchase property together, combining their financial resources for investment or personal use.  

While joint ownership can offer numerous benefits, such as shared financial responsibility and collaborative decision-making, it can also lead to complex obstacles, especially when one party wishes to sell its share. While you can sell your share of a jointly owned property, it's not as straightforward as selling a property owned outright by one person, and it depends on the type of joint ownership you have. 

If you're looking to sell a share of a jointly owned property, my firm, Martinez Law Office, Inc., offers experienced representation in both transactional law and litigation. Located in Santa Ana, California, I proudly serve clients throughout Southern California including Orange County, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County. 

Understanding Joint Ownership 

Before diving into the specifics of selling a share of jointly owned property, it's essential to have a clear understanding of how joint ownership works. There are three types of co-ownership: joint tenancy, tenancy in common, and tenancy by the entirety.  

What Is Joint Tenancy? 

Joint tenancy is a specific type of co-ownership characterized by the right of survivorship. This means that if one of the co-owners passes away, their share of the property automatically transfers to the surviving co-owner(s), without the need for probate. To establish joint tenancy, all parties must acquire equal shares of the property simultaneously through the same deed.  

This form of ownership is popular among married couples, family members, and closely knit business partners due to its straightforward approach to succession and the equal rights it grants all the owners for managing and making decisions about the property. 

Selling your share in a joint tenancy effectively severs the joint tenancy, converting it into a tenancy in common for all the parties involved. This action allows you to sell your share but changes the ownership structure for the remaining owners. 

What Is Tenancy in Common? 

Tenancy in common (TIC) is another form of co-ownership, providing a more flexible arrangement compared to joint tenancy. In a tenancy in common, each owner holds an individual, undivided share in the property that can vary in size.

Unlike joint tenancy, TIC does not carry the right of survivorship. When one co-owner dies, their share passes according to their will or the rules of intestacy rather than automatically transferring to the surviving owners. 

This type of ownership is particularly advantageous for those entering into property investment with friends or business partners where unequal ownership percentages may reflect the amount each party has invested.

It allows each co-owner to sell, transfer, or bequeath their share of the property independently of the other owners. However, this independence also means that co-owners must have clear agreements on the use, maintenance, and expenses related to the property to avoid conflicts.  

What Is Tenancy by the Entirety? 

Tenancy by the entirety (TBE) is a form of joint ownership that is available only to married couples. Similar to joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety includes the right of survivorship, meaning when one spouse dies, the other automatically becomes the sole owner of the property without the need for probate.  

However, neither spouse can sell, convey, mortgage, or otherwise alienate any interest in the property without the consent of the other spouse. This mutual consent requirement makes sure the property cannot be lost or encumbered by the actions of one spouse alone. 

Tenancy by the entirety is not recognized in all states. For couples residing in states where tenancy by the entirety is recognized, it offers a compelling combination of survivorship rights, creditor protection, and mutual control over the property, making it a perfect option to protect family assets. 

California Laws on Selling Jointly Owned Property 

In California, the process of selling your share of a jointly owned property is influenced by the state's specific property laws. The California Partition Act provides a legal pathway for co-owners seeking to sell their interest in a jointly owned property, even if the other co-owners are opposed to the sale.

Under this statute, a co-owner has the right to file a partition action in court to compel the sale of the property. The court may order a physical division of the property if it's feasible or, more commonly, order the property to be sold and the proceeds distributed among the co-owners according to their ownership interests. 

For tenancy in common owners, California law allows for the transfer of ownership without the consent of the other co-owners. However, joint tenancy and tenancy by the entirety require a more detailed approach, particularly for the right of survivorship and consent for selling. 

How to Sell Your Share of a Jointly Owned Property 

Selling your share of a jointly owned property involves a series of steps to ensure the process is completed smoothly and in line with California law. 

  1. Review Your Ownership Agreement: Closely examine any existing co-ownership agreement, property deed, or other legal documents that define the terms of the joint ownership. Look for any clauses that outline the procedures for selling a share before a sale can occur. 

  1. Consult with an Attorney: Contact a real estate attorney experienced in property law and specifically joint ownership issues. A legal professional can provide advice based on your specific situation, the type of co-ownership you have, and California laws. 

  1. Notify Your Co-Owners: Communicate your intention to sell your share to the other property owners. Depending on the type of joint ownership and any existing agreements, you may need their consent, or you might have to offer them the first opportunity to buy your share. 

  1. Get the Property Appraised: Appraise the property to determine the fair market value of your share so you can set a price that reflects the current market conditions and the property's worth. 

  1. Find a Buyer: If your co-owners decline to purchase your share, you'll need to find an external buyer. This might involve advertising the property share for sale and possibly working with a real estate agent who has experience dealing with co-owned properties. 

  1. Draft a Sales Agreement: Once a buyer is found, draft a sales agreement that outlines the terms of the sale, including the sale price, payment terms, and any other conditions. Both you and the buyer, along with any relevant co-owners, will need to sign the agreement. 

  1. Complete the Legal Transfer: Work with your attorney to prepare the necessary legal documents to transfer your share to the buyer. This typically includes a new deed for tenancy in common arrangements. Make sure all documents are correctly filed with the right government offices. 

So, Can I Sell My Share of a Jointly Owned Property? 

Yes, you can sell your share of a jointly owned property, but it depends on the type of co-ownership (joint tenancy, tenancy in common, or tenancy by the entirety) and any existing agreements among the co-owners. 

To ensure you understand the process and legal requirements, I recommend reaching out to an experienced real estate attorney who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation, ensuring that your rights are protected while respecting the co-ownership structure. 

Seek Legal Support 

Whether you're dealing with a tenancy in common, joint tenancy, or tenancy by the entirety, selling a share of a jointly owned property can be challenging.

If you're considering selling your share of a jointly owned property in Southern California, feel free to reach out to my firm at Martinez Law Office, Inc. My experience in real estate law can help maximize your chances of receiving the best possible outcome for your case.