Tricks to Remove Co-Owner from House Title

The law allows any co-owner to remove another co-owner on the property title with or without their agreement through a quiet title action, or partition action, and by a deed with agreement.

By Agreement – A Deed from the Co-Owner

While it may seem obvious, a co-owner can be removed from the title to the property by executing a deed. The grantor (also known as transferor) on the deed would be the co-owner whose name is being removed. The grantee (also known as the transferee or recipient) on the deed would be either an existing co-owner or anyone else.

For example, perhaps you own a property with your former significant other or sibling on an inherited property. Perhaps the two of you have agreed how much will be paid to the party who will be exiting the co-ownership. In exchange, that person will execute a deed conveying (transfering) their interest to the buyer, presumably the existing co-owner who wishes to own the entirety of the property. It is critical to record this deed with the county recorder. Note that a deed does not remove anyone’s name from the mortgage, supposing their name was on the mortgage.

This article does not explain the details of how this is done, so it is important to work with a lawyer or title company and to buy title insurance so that there are no surprises down the road. Of course, if you don’t have the agreement of your co-owner, a deed won’t do the trick to remove them from the title.

Quiet Title – No Agreement Needed

Yet another way to remove a name from title to real estate is through a quiet title action. This begins with a quiet title complaint filed in the court located in the county where the property is located. The court would eventually hold a trial on whether the claim of the plaintiff is correct that the defendant is not hold equitable title, despite their name appearing on legal title (the deed). The downside is that these cases are not easy to win. Evidence Code Section 662 requires clear and convincing evidence contrary to record title. This means that evidence that the defendant is only probably not a real owner should not suffice. Moreover, quiet title cases can drag on with discovery, motion practice, and legal fees.

Partition Action – No Agreement Needed

The chances of succeeding at remove a name from the property title is highest with a partition action. Notably, the absolute right to partition means the partition is a matter of right by any co-owner.

A common misconception is that a partition results in a forced sale, and that this means the plaintiff will not become the sole owner. This is nonsense.

First, the new Partition of Real Property Act in California allows certain parties to complete a buyout of the property at an appraised price. While the statute may appear to give only defendants this right, a skilled partition lawyer can assist the court in understanding that the plaintiff may also have this right, as well.

Second, assuming no party completes a buyout at an appraised value, the action would normally proceed as a partition by sale. While you might be thinking “a sale is the last thing I want!,” do not fret. This is because co-owners are specifically included as eligible purchasers in a partition sale.

You might also be thinking that a partition sale will result in astronomically high prices, with buyers outbidding you to pay top dollar for the property. As a practice matter, while the house may have high value to you as a co-owner, buyers have other options, meaning the partition sale will likely result in fair market value.

If structured properly, the real estate broker’s commission can be reduced (or waived) if the co-owner is the purchaser. Under certain circumstances, the existing mortgage may simply stay on the property while you pay the fractional amount owed to the defendant/co-owner.

Making this sale even easier, the court can taking a setoff from party purchaser, meaning that the buyer may not be required to pay the entire sum. Instead, if the court has determined that the purchaser is owed money from the sale on account of being a co-owner or based on offsets, also known as compensatory adjustments resulting from allowance, accounting, and contribution of unequal payments towards the property, even less may be owed.

Best of all, the partition referee can escort your former co-owner out of the house using the unique powers of the partition courts.

Of course, if you don’t care whether you are also taken off title, a partition action can simply force the sale, resulting in you receiving your equity. The outcome of a partition action is that the co-ownership is terminated, thereby ending the uncomfortable issues that arise from co-ownership of real estate in California.

Talkov Law Can Help

If you’re hoping to end your co-ownership dispute, including by removing your co-owner from title, the attorneys at Talkov Law can guide you through the process. For a free, no-risk consultation with California’s #1 law firm for partition actions in California, contact us online or at (844) 4-TALKOV (825568).

About Scott Talkov

Scott Talkov is a partition lawyer in California. He founded Talkov Law Corp. after more than one decade of experience at a California real estate litigation firm, where he served as one of the firm's partners. He has been featured on ABC 7, CNN, KCBS, and KCAL-9, and in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Press-Enterprise, and in Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine. Scott has been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star for 9 consecutive years. He can be reached about new matters at info@talkovlaw.com or (844) 4-TALKOV (825568). He can also be contacted directly at scott@talkovlaw.com.

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