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Partition of Real Estate

Sometimes property owners get stuck with co-owners who won't sell. Sometimes, siblings or other relatives inherit property that they can’t or don’t want to maintain. Thankfully, Hawaii law provides a way to get cash out of your jointly owned property.

Pursuant to §668 of Title 36 of the Hawaii Code, a co-owner may file a partition action with the circuit court in the county where the property is located. Both joint tenants and tenants in common have the right to pursue partition, which essentially terminates the co-owner relationship.

What is Partition by Sale?

When dividing the property is not feasible or desirable, a judge may order a partition by sale. In this arrangement, the entire piece of real estate is sold. The resulting proceeds are then divided among the co-owners according to their rightful interests in the property.

To divide these funds fairly after any outstanding debts have been paid in full, the court will need to review each party’s financial contributions leading up to the sale. Examples include receipts for repairs and maintenance, statements for ongoing insurance coverage, bills for applicable taxes, and payments toward the mortgage loan.

It’s worth noting that once the court orders a partition by sale, none of the owners has the ability to stop it; however, if anyone is determined to retain the asset solely in their name, they may bid on it at the auction.

In cases where heirs are sharing in title, new laws specifically provide for one heir to buy another’s share before any auction of the property takes place, potentially making it easier to get cash out.

How Do I Terminate a Co-Owner Relationship on a Property in Hawaii?

If you co-own property with someone who refuses to sell, the easiest way to secure your portion of the asset is by severing the joint relationship, and the easiest way to do that is by consulting a real estate attorney. At Bickerton Law Group LLLP, we are well-versed in §668 and pursuing partition of property in Hawaii. To schedule your free consultation with a real estate lawyer in Honolulu, fill out our Contact Form or call (808) 599-3811.

After evaluating the situation and identifying the heart of the dispute, we will help you determine how best to proceed. Then, we will prepare and file all the necessary paperwork so you can petition the court to recover what is rightfully yours.