A partition action is a lawsuit between co-owners of real property, where the plaintiff is attempting to have the Court force the sale of property which they own with another owner or owners. Partition actions are not, however, limited to obtaining the court’s Order to sell the property jointly owned. The Court has other equitable powers in a partition action including the court’s ability to conduct an accounting if there is an imbalance in who received rents on the property or an imbalance in payments made by the co-owners towards maintenance of the property.
What this means is that the Court can require an accounting to be done between the parties before deciding what to do with the proceeds from the sale of the subject property. If the Court determines that one of the owners has received more than his/her share of the rents, the Court can Order that owner to first repay the amounts he/she received in rents in excess of the other co-owners, before they can receive their percentage share from the proceeds from the sale.
Similarly, if one of the owners has paid more than their share of the costs in maintaining the property, as compared to the other owner or owners, the Court has the power to Order that the owner that has paid less than the other owner(s), reimburse the other owner(s) so the amounts that each have spent on maintaining the property are properly proportionate.
To conduct the accounting, the Court would order the property be sold and then after determining the amount of net proceeds available from the sale, would issue an Order on how those proceeds would be distributed after taking into account whether one of the owners needs to be reimbursed for their share of rents that they never received or for their overpayment for property expenses. After those funds are redistributed, the Court would then Order all of the proceeds to be proportionately distributed.
I regularly represent clients in Oakland, California and in the East Bay, California, in partition actions. If you have questions, or need representation by a California real estate attorney involving a partition action or a dispute between co-owners of real property, please feel free to contact me to arrange for a consultation at (510) 465-0025.