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I'm sorry to hear about your situation. When she's not willing to sell or buy you out, the only way that you can force a sale is through a "partition action". It's a lawsuit by you against any co-owner(s) of the property. You ask the court to either divide the property up or sell the property.
The right to a partition is set out in the Real Property Article of the Maryland Code. It says:
“Decree of partition (a) A circuit court may decree a partition of any property, either legal or equitable, on the bill or petition of any joint tenant, tenant in common, parcener, or concurrent owner, whether claiming by descent or purchase. If it appears that the property cannot be divided without loss or injury to the parties interested, the court may decree its sale and divide the money resulting from the sale among the parties according to their respective rights. The right to a partition or sale includes the right to a partition or sale of any separate lot or tract of property, and the bill or petition need not pray for a partition of all the lots or tracts.” § 14-107
As the language indicates, if the property cannot be divided without losing value to its owners, then the court should order that it be sold and the proceeds divided. That is what is known as a sale in lieu of partition. Such sales are controlled by a section of the Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure that state: “When the relief sought is a sale in lieu of partition, the court shall order a sale only if it determines that the property cannot be divided without loss or injury to the parties interested.” MD R PROP ACT Rule 12-401.
This is the correct result — if the property can just be split, as with two similar lots that are not improved with buildings — they should be split and the parties can keep or sell them as they see fit. If the property cannot be split, however, it needs to be sold.
For the owners of the property, however, there are very strong reasons not to actually go through the sale as it would be ordered by the Court. Under the Rules, the normal procedure is to appoint three commissioners who can establish a value and oversee the sale. “When the court orders a partition, unless all the parties expressly waive the appointment of commissioners, the court shall appoint not less than three nor more than five disinterested persons to serve as commissioners for the purpose of valuing and dividing the property.”
MD R PROP ACT Rule 12-401. These commissioners, in turn, can be paid out of the proceeds of the sale. “Payment of the compensation, fees, and costs of the commissioners may be included in the costs of the action and allocated among the parties as the court may direct.” If needed, the sale would then proceed to judicial sale –an auction on the courthouse steps. This means that, if the owners cannot agree to sell it on the open market, it will likely go for a steep discount and then be subject to significant fees to pay the attorneys, commissioners, trustee, and related court costs.
So the first thing is the threat of taking this to partition. Both of you would get paid after the expenses, equally, so she would adversely be affected by a sale as well. It might be enough to force her to either buy you out or agree to sell. If she doesn't, the only way to force (again) is the partition action. And if it gets to that point, you would need an attorney. That being said, if it does get to that point, you need to contact an attorney in your area that deals with real estate cases. Go to www.lawyers.com or www.legalmatch.com to find an attorney in your area. You should be able to find one that will give you a free initial consultation and better advise you of your rights, any problems with your case, likelihood of success, how courts are treating cases such as yours in your area, and what you should do next. Hopefully the threat will be enough to get her to agree to sell or buy you out.
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