Accounting For Property Expenses in a Partition Action

In a previous blog post we discussed splitting jointly owned real property through a partition proceeding in New York State Court. In this post we talk about how property related expenses that may be incurred by the parties are sometimes apportioned by the Court to determine how much money each side will be entitled to receive from the proceeds of any potential forced sale.  

Who Pays to Maintain the Property?

In general, if one of the parties has occupied the home or has possession of the property that person will be responsible for maintaining it. Any expenses that arise from reasonable maintenance of the property will be reimbursed from the money made once the property is sold. Ideally, the type of maintenance needed will be agreed upon by all parties. Of course, that is rarely the case. If there is a disagreement regarding whether a specific expense for maintenance was required or not, each party can present their arguments to the court. The court will then determine if the expenses were a part of normal maintenance or not.

One party may also claim that the other party locked them out of the home (“ouster”).  If a claim of ouster is sustained, the party that was locked out may not be required to pay any portion of the expenses incurred in maintaining the home during the ouster period. The idea is that because as a matter of law each of the owners has the right to possess any part of the property, if one party prevents the other from using and enjoying the property, that party should not be entitled to contribution from the other towards any household related expenses. 

Will You Get Reimbursed for Money Spent on Repairs?

If all parties agree that a repair is needed, then the money spent on them will be reimbursed. If there is a disagreement, then this will be looked at by the courts in the same way that regular maintenance is evaluated. Only repairs that are determined to be necessary for the normal upkeep of the property will be reimbursed. Of course, it is in everyone’s best interest to keep the property from falling into disrepair since that will lower its value at sale.

What About Improvements Made to the Property?

Improvements made to the property are generally split if they are needed to maintain it. If an improvement is made for the enjoyment of one of the owners (typically the one with physical possession of the property) then the expenses may not be reimbursed. If the improvement was not necessary, but increases the value of the home, one party may argue that the other party should be required to contribute towards the cost of the improvement since they would otherwise be unjustly enriched when the home is sold. 

Who Will Pay the Property Taxes?

Generally, each party is required to pay his or her share of the property taxes. 

Contact Us with Questions

Every partition action is going to have unique factors that need to be considered. There is no blanket rule that will apply to every situation for any of these questions, and there may be many other types of questions that you will have. Contact us to schedule a consultation and discuss your unique circumstances.

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