How to Get Out of Inherited Property Held As Tenants-in-Common

By John Stevens J.D.

Tenants in common is a type of ownership interest where two or more persons own a piece of property together. Unless a will specifies a different form of ownership, most states recognize tenants in common as the default form of co-ownership. An heir who inherits property as a tenant in common and who does not want to share a property interest with other co-owners has a few options, depending on the specific circumstances of each situation.

Selling to Other Tenants in Common

If the other tenants in common want to keep the inherited property, you may choose to sell your interest to them. Although cash is commonly offered in exchange for property, you may instead ask for a different form of property in exchange for your interest, such as a valuable coin collection or a painting the other co-owners may have inherited. If you owe the other owners money, consider asking them to forgive your debt in exchange for your property interest. Regardless of the terms of your agreement, your sale agreement must be in writing. If you do decide to negotiate a cash purchase, consider using either an escrow company or real estate attorney to handle the cash transfer.

Selling to Third Party

If the other tenants in common are unwilling or unable to purchase your interest in the property, consider selling it to a third party. As a tenant in common, you own a fractional interest, so you cannot sell the entire property -- each tenant in common owns less than the whole. For example, if the property is inherited equally by two tenants in common, each owns a 50 percent interest; if the property is owned by four tenants in common, each owns a 25 percent interest. But ownership shares need not be equal -- a will might provide that one tenant in common owns a 75 percent interest and a second tenant in common owns a 25 percent interest. Having a fractional interest in a piece of property can substantially reduce the potential market for selling your interest; potential buyers are not likely to want to share a single-family residence with strangers. There is no legal requirement that a fractional buyer must physically occupy the property, so a new owner could, for example, simply hold the fractional interest as an investment.

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More

Court-Ordered Partition

If the other co-owners will not purchase your fractional interest in the property, and you are not able to find a third party purchaser, you can ask a court for a partition by sale. The court can order the sale of the entire property by all co-tenants, even against their wills, with the proceeds from the sale divided according to each tenant's original interest. Partition by sale is typically used where the property cannot be physically divided without destroying the value of the property. A partition-in-kind is a court order directing the physical division of the property. For example, three people own 30 acres of farm land equally as tenants in common. If the court approves a partition-in-kind, the property will be divided into three separate ownership interests with each tenant in common owning one 10-acre portion outright. Partition is generally available only if it would be in the best interests of all tenants in common.

Renting Share of Property

Renting out a portion of the property may be a viable option. To rent a portion of the property, you should first obtain the permission of the other tenants in common, who have the right to possess the entire property. This is true even if one tenant in common owns a small fractional interest, such as 20 percent. If you rent a bedroom for example, and another tenant in common wants to use the bedroom, that co-owner could remove the tenant, who could then sue you. To avoid situations like this, obtain permission from all of the owners to rent out your portion of the property. To be enforceable, rental agreements and permissions from all affected co-tenants should be in writing to be legally enforceable.

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More
Questions to Ask an Attorney on Your Rights If You Inherited a House With Siblings

References

Related articles

What to Do With a Jointly Inherited House

Initially, learning that you’ve inherited a home might seem like a good thing. However, that happiness can quickly turn to consternation if you realize that the decedent left it to you jointly with other individuals. Your co-owners might be family members or acquaintances. In either case, you can easily find yourselves at an impasse regarding what to do with the house, because every action you take, including selling it, requires the legal consent of everyone involved.

Ohio Probate Law Concerning Property Deeds in Multiple Names With No Rights to Survivorship

Frequently, an estate or inheritance involves multiple heirs. If a last will and testament exists, even it may not define specific property by individual share. A personal representative, or the person appointed by the court to manage an estate, may deed property to multiple heirs as defined in a will or by Ohio state law. Alternatively, a property owner may deed property prior to his death to multiple individuals in an attempt to bypass probate. Whether deeded before or after death, Ohio law determines how title is held by multiple parties, either by language in a deed or by statute.

Sharing an Inheritance With a Sibling

Although sibling rivalries can be difficult at the best of times, sharing an inheritance between brothers and sisters can be incredibly difficult. While inheritances are generally divided so that each beneficiary gets property they own outright, some pieces of property can be transferred so that siblings own the assets jointly. For example, a family home might be inherited jointly by siblings. With siblings owning jointly inherited property, the decedent probably wanted to ensure that all of the siblings get to use the property equally, and that they cannot easily sell the bequeathed assets. Conversely, the siblings may want to determine how to divide their jointly shared assets so they can own their portion of the asset without having to share.

Related articles

Tenancy in Common Property & Bankruptcy in Illinois

Bankruptcy can allow you to start over again financially, but you may lose some of your property in the process, ...

Problems With Selling the Property of an Heir

Traditionally, an heir is defined as a person who receives property from an estate due to intestacy. When a person dies ...

Do You Have to Partition Undivided Property in a Will?

Partitioning is a judicial process that divides co-owned real estate among its owners. A will can transfer the ...

Tenants in Common in a Will

When title to property -- usually real estate -- is held by tenants in common, each of those tenants owns a portion of ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED