Real property is commonly owned by two or more persons or parties. A common example is a parcel of real property that is given to two or more siblings by their father, or that is owned by a partnership. If the co-owners agree on management or sale of the parcel, they can share its benefits for many years. If, however, the co-owners disagree on whether to sell the property or on how to manage it, Pennsylvania law gives them the right to resolve their property dispute by asking the court to divide the property.
The lawsuit, known as a partition action, must be brought in the county where all or part of the real estate is located. Any joint owner may bring the action. The remaining co-owners must be joined as defendants. If a parcel can be divided without adversely affecting the interests of the other owners, the court shall divide it proportionately among the co-owners according to their interests.
If the property cannot be divided in this manner, the court must divide it as equitably as possible among the co-owners, with any difference in value made up by payments in cash from the owner receiving greater value to the owner, or owners, receiving lesser value.
Majority owners can object in writing to a partition and ask the court to direct its sale and fix a value for the land. In such cases, the majority owners usually buy out the interests of the minority owners on terms fixed by the court. The statute governing partition actions sets forth a step-by-step procedure that is designed to ensure fairness to all parties and to protect the value of the land. Anyone who is considering a partition action may benefit from getting more information about real estate law.
Source: Pennsylvania Code, Subchapter B, Partition of Real Property, accessed on Jan. 22, 2017