Partition Lawsuit by Sisters and Attorney’s Fees
Question: My sister and I inherited our mother’s North Phoenix home after our mother died. My sister needs money and wants to sell the home immediately. I would like to make some improvements to the home and rent the home for rental income for both of us. My sister, however, says that she will not sign a lease to any renter of the home. If she won’t sign a lease to rent the home, can I sign the lease by myself? Can my sister require the sale of the home? If so, who pays for legal fees?
Answer: First, in order to rent or sell a home or other real property all of the owners generally have to agree to rent or sell. Second, if this “rent or sell” controversy with your sister cannot be resolved, a partition lawsuit will have to be filed in court. The court will appoint a Special Commissioner, generally a real estate agent who charges a standard listing commission, to list and sell the home. After the home is sold, the Special Commissioner will deposit with the court the proceeds of sale, minus any sales costs such as commissions and escrow fees, to be distributed to you and your sister. Under Arizona law neither your sister nor you can be reimbursed for your legal fees.
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