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AttorneyTom, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney
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I live in California in San Francisco. I have made an offer

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I live in California in San Francisco. I have made an offer to buy out my ex, he has absolutely refused. He has decided he wants to make upgrade to the unit and sell to the highest bidder. He no longer resides here-he has a residence in China, but has an equal right to the property. He has not slept here since 2/9/2012. The property is my only residence, does he require my permission do do upgrades to the unit by himself and with contractors? Can I deny him and finish out the paperwork for the division of assets and allow a sale to take place "as is"
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for the opportunity to answer your question. I am sending this answer to you only a few minutes after you submitted your question.
If you both jointly own the property, either of you could authorize a contractor to perform work on the property. However, as a practical matter, if one person is at a property and the other is not, the person who is living there could certainly refuse to allow contractors to begin work. You may wish to involve your attorney in the matter, as it would be possible to seek an injunction preventing further improvement of the home as well. In other words, the court could order him to cease altering the home until the matter is settled. That said, it's also possible that the improvements could have a positive effect on the value of the home and, if he's using separate property of his own to fund it, commingling it with the jointly-owned property, it's possible that the court may have a hard time tracing the money back to its separate sources, so it's not entirely impossible for the improvements to benefit both parties. However, that possibility is something you'd want to have your personal attorney evaluate directly so that you could make an educated and informed decision based on the detailed facts.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
So basically even though I am living here he can make unilateral decisions on the property regardless of my say so --even though I am on title
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 4 years ago.
If two people own property jointly, either one has generally the authority to make decisions to improve the property. However, as a practical matter, if one person lives there and the other does not, the person who lives there could readily and easily turn away contractors to prevent work that she didn't approve of from being performed.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
So basically he can make unilateral decisions--what if starts work that is extremely disruptive and leaves and goes back to China--can I refuse to allow the contractors to enter
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 4 years ago.
Unless there's a court order regarding the matter, two people who own property together have equal rights. Just as either owner can hire someone to perform work, the other owner could deny the workman access to perform the work. An exception can apply if there is an urgent matter that is resulting in property damage. For example, if there's a water leak and one joint owner refuses to allow its repair, that person could be liable for the value of the damage that results. The best way to handle such matters is to retain an attorney and pursue the division of an asset via court order, as it prevents unnecessary expenditure, grief, and conflict.
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