How do I settle my dispute regarding jointly owned real property? Often, two or more persons will buy a piece of investment property with high hopes of collecting rent, paying off the mortgage and providing an income stream. In many instances, disputes arise regarding maintenance, improvements, collection of rent, etc. When these disputes become irreconcilable, and the parties are not able to agree to sell the property, a partition action is often the only way out.


In a partition action, one or more of the co-owner’s files suit asking the court to order a sale of the property. This sale can be private or at the courthouse steps (a private sale will generally yield a higher return but the parties will generally not agree on the terms which is why they are in court in the first place). Most of the litigation in partition actions concerns the adjustment of claims and equities as between the parties. For example, if one cotenant made improvements to the property, that party may be entitled to receive that part of the proceeds resulting from a sale which are attributable to the improvements over and above the share otherwise due him or her. See Hernandez v Hernandez, 645 So.2d 171 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991).  The amount, however, is based upon the enhanced value due to the improvements, not necessarily the cost of the improvements. In addition, the parties will generally be entitled to a credit for one half of the amounts expended for necessary and reasonable repairs, maintenance, and replacement. See Kelly v. Kelly, 568 So. 2d 70, 72 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990). In either instance, the cotenant not in possession may be entitled to an offset for amounts expended for improvement or preservation “… by the reasonable rental value of the use of the property by the cotenant in possession to the extent it has exceeded his or her proportionate share of ownership”.  See Barrow v. Barrow, 527 So. 2d 1373 (Fla. 1988).


Gibbons | Neuman is a full-service law firm with a heavy emphasis in real property litigation. If you are involved in a real property dispute, please feel free to call us to schedule an appointment.

Rod B. Neuman, Esquire (813) 877-9222.