Any co-owner of real property in California can file a partition action, regardless of the size of their ownership interest. Put simply, if someone owns a mere 1% of a property, they can file a partition complaint. This is because the right to partition in California is absolute.
One court explained that “if the party seeking partition is shown to be a tenant in common, and as such entitled to the possession of the land sought to be partitioned, the right is absolute.”Bacon v. Wahrhaftig (1950) 97 Cal.App. 2d 599, 603.
California Code of Civil Procedure Section 872.210 provides in relevant part:
A partition action may be commenced and maintained by… an owner of an estate of inheritance, an estate for life, or an estate for years in real property where such property or estate therein is owned by several persons concurrently, or in successive estates.
Therefore, to prevail in a partition action, a party must prove through the property deed(s), other title paperwork, judgments, or any estate planning documents, if applicable, that they have an interest in the property. The size of that interest is not relevant to the filing of a partition complaint, however, the size of a co-owner’s interest can dictate a co-owner’s equitable interest in the property i.e. how much money they get.
Sometimes, co-owners try to push their co-owners around by claiming that their small interest in the property means it will not be worth the attorney’s fees. This strategy is unwise. That is because the law is that “the court shall apportion the costs of partition among the parties in proportion to their interests or make such other apportionment as may be equitable.” California Code of Civil Procedure 874.040. This means that a 10% co-owner can ask the court to award 90% of their partition attorney’s fees to the other co-owners, which would be the default rule in California.
Talkov Law's Partition Attorneys Can Help
If you want to end your co-ownership relationship, but your co-owner won’t agree, a partition action is your only option. With six, full time partition lawyers, Talkov Law is the #1 partition law firm in California and has handled 250 partition actions throughout California. Every case has resulted in a sale to either a third party or one of the co-owners. Not a single court has denied our clients the right to partition or declared our client to be a non-owner. Plus, for qualified cases, there is no fee until we settle or win your case!