The Dynamics surrounding co-owned property disputes

Property disputes can take many different forms, but few are as complex as co-owned property disputes. A co-owned property is any property that is under joint ownership by two or more parties or contains a shared space such as a yard, driveway, garage, etc.

In cases where a property has multiple owners who live in the same space, the situation is referred to as Tenants-In-Common (TIC). Both TIC and other co-ownership situations can result in disputes that can be tricky to resolve. It's important to understand common reasons for disputes and the legal nuances that surround how they can be revolved.

What can cause co-ownership disputes?

Co-ownership disputes are typically caused by some of the following issues:

  • Property maintenance conflicts: owners of properties such as apartments or condominiums may disagree on proposed maintenance projects for common areas of the property—for example, remodeling projects, painting jobs and lawn care can become issues of contention in terms of the timing and the manner in which the project will be carried out.
  • Living situation conflicts: daily issues such as noise levels, hygiene, and lifestyle choices can become hotly contested issues among property co-owners.
  • Pets: some owners may be cat lovers, others dog lovers, etc.—the presence and care for pets on the property can lead to frequent disputes.
  • Tenant disputes: property owners who choose to rent out their space to tenants may result in conflicts—for example, tenants may have different lifestyles than other people on the property, leading to a clash of preferences.

How can co-owned property disputes be resolved?

If a single property is held by multiple owners, resolving conflicts can be more complex than resolving conflicts involving shared spaces. For example, an apartment that is owned by 3 different people who are in disagreement will further complicate the dispute resolution process.

Most conveyancers will propose a dispute resolution process that doesn't involve a lengthy litigation proceeding. This will provide a platform for the owners to arrive at a legally binding agreement (backed by a conveyancer) outside of court.

If such an agreement cannot be arrived at, it may be necessary to partition the property in accordance with the ruling of a judge. For a co-owned property, the estate will typically be sold and the proceedings divided equally among the owners. This is the last available option if all other attempts at resolving the disagreement have failed. In most cases, it's preferable to resolve the co-owned property dispute without having to sell and partition the estate.

For more information, contact local conveyancing solicitors.