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TJ, Esq.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 12398
Experience:  JD, MBA
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I am sole owner of a duplex, title is solely in my name in

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I am sole owner of a duplex, title is solely in my name in san francisco, but when purchased property to told my brother that he had a 20% interest, however this was a verbal agreement. Later I confirmed this agreement in writing via e-mail but no legal papers or documents were drawn up or notarized. He has always had a room of his own in the building, bu never contributed to mortgages, expenses, improvements. He made minor contributions for about two years to help towards the family household. I have been presented with a Notice of Pendency of Action (Lis Pendens) in which the plaintiff claims that he is 20% owner and a prayer for partition sale of property, imposition of resulting trust and for other relief, attorney fee and costs of suit. How should I respond to him, my brother who I share living space with? I have never disputed that he has 20% ownership
Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.

What is your position on this matter? Do you want to concede that your brother has a 20% interest? What is your goal with regard to this issue?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I want to avoid a lawsuit, I want to make it clear once and for all, in writing that he is 20% owner and he has no right to force a sale or do anything with property which is solely under my control and ownership. I want this behind me. This is my blood brother who I sleep under the same roof with.

Hi again.

If you want to avoid a lawsuit by making it quite clear that your brother owns 20%, then you can give a quit claim deed for 20% of the property, and he can record it in the land records. However, as a 20% owner he would have the right to force a partition. In other words, the law does not force a person to continue to own property with another person. You would have the option of buying your brother's share so that the property is not sold.

As an aside, you've contradicted yourself just a bit. You stated that you want to "make it clear once and for all, in writing that he is 20% owner," but later in the same sentence you wrote "he has no right to force a sale or do anything with property which is solely under my control and ownership." Is he an owner or not? It sounds like you're not quite certain about it yourself, and that may be why your brother has taken this action. If he is an owner, then the property is not solely under your control and ownership, and your brother has various rights. Conversely, if the property is solely under your control and ownership, then your brother is obviously not an owner. This confusion may be the root of the problem.

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