Partition: Forcing the Sale of Jointly Owned Property

If you own a piece of property with someone in New York and have come to find this co-ownership situation unbearable or undesirable, you can force the other party to sell the property even if they do not wish to do so. Under the law, this remedy is commonly referred to as a partition action ("partition"). 

While many individuals are unaware or unfamiliar with this process, it is a viable option for those who can no longer tolerate or afford co-owning property with another person. Typically, the courts will not require you to give a reason as to why the property much be sold. All a party bring a partition action must prove is that they are a legal co-owner of the property at the time the action is started. 

Usually, you may have come to co-own property as a result of a business venture or if you and a relative took title to a home as a result of inheritance. As such, there are two different types of relief you can seek in a partition action.

The First-- Partition in Kind

A partition in kind physically divides the property so that each party has their own parcel of land and an undivided interest in that parcel. A simple example of this distribution would be if 100 acres were owned by two business partners. After a partition action, the land is divided into two and each party owns 50 acres. 

The Second--Partition by Sale

Partition in kind is best suited for unimproved land, such as fields or open spaces. However, when land is "improved", where a house or building has been developed, it becomes more difficult to achieve an equal distribution of the property. In these situations, the home or building may have to be sold to complete the partition action. The home or building is sold at auction and the co-owners divide the proceeds between them after the sale is finalized. This is the most common type of partition action in New York City. 

Should you find yourself in a position where a co-owner does not feel the same way you do about the sale of a home or building, please feel free to call O'Sullivan & Zacchea at (718) 713-3499 for a free consultation with Kevin O'Sullivan. You can also contact us by email at