I own property adjacent to a vacant lot in upstate New York. I would like to purchase onehalf of that lot which is owned by a divorced couple. The husband says that he and his former wife are considered "tenants in common" and that anything built on the property in the future would be owned by both of them equally, even though they are divorced. Is that true?He also tells my that to legally subdivide the property would require an action for partitionwhich he thinks his former wife would resist. He suggested that he could sell me a half interest in the lot. Would that be legal? He thinks that his former wife would then agreeto proceed with the action for partition so that she could build on the property.I fear this could lead to endless legal hassles. What do you think?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): New York
I have only spoken with the owners of the property I want to purchase.
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It would be a major hassle. Tenancy in Common means that each owner owns an undivided portion of the property. That means that if there are two individuals own the property, each owns 50% of the entire property, rather than just 1/2 of the property (such as the east half and the other person owns the west half). A partition action would be required to divide OR sell the property without the other owner's consent. The PROBLEM in a partition action is that the court does not have to divide the lot into two new lots, if it's not practical. Rather, it could sell the lot at public auction, meaning that you might get even less than what you pay for it, and not get the lot in the first place. Any improvement to the lot, without the acceptance and assent of the other party, would still be owned half by her.
So it's possible that you could purchase 1/2 the lot, build on it (even on the half that is closest to yours) and she could claim 1/2 the entire lot.
If the court could not divide the land into two parcels in a partition action, it would sell it at public auction, where it most likely would receive less than what it would go for in a private sale.
Personally, if it were me, I would want the tenancy in common issues settled first before I purchase, OR purchase at a significant discount to reflect the increased risk.,
Him selling you his half would be entirely legal, but there's no guarantee that she would agree to a partition, or to sell you her half, etc...
Again, it might not even be able to divide the property any further, and in that instance, you're either stuck with her as a co-owner, or have to go through the courts to sell the property at auction.
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