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What is a Partition Action?

What is a Partition Action and How Does It Affect Joint Property Owners in New York?

If you own a property with someone else, you may have different opinions on what to do with it. Maybe you want to sell it and split the money, but your co-owner wants to keep it. Or maybe you want to live in it, but your co-owner wants to rent it out. How can you resolve this conflict?

One option is to file a partition action. A partition action is a legal process that allows a joint property owner to force the sale of the property and get their share of the proceeds. This way, you don’t have to co-own the property if you don’t want to.

However, a partition action can also have negative consequences for both parties. It can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful. It can also result in losing the property at a low price or losing sentimental value. Therefore, before you decide to file a partition action, you should understand how it works and what alternatives you may have.

How Does a Partition Action Work in New York?

A partition action is filed in the Supreme Court of the county where the property is located. The person bringing the action (the Plaintiff) must prove that they are a joint owner of the property and that physical partition (dividing the property into separate parts) is not possible or would cause great prejudice to the parties. For example, if the property is a single-family home or an apartment, physical partition would not be feasible or would destroy its value.

If the plaintiff meets these requirements, the court will usually order the sale of the property and divide the proceeds among the co-owners according to their ownership interests. For example, if two co-owners each own 50% of the property, they will each get 50% of the sale proceeds.

However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. For instance, if there is a prior written agreement between the co-owners that prevents or limits the partition action, such as a contract or a corporation document, then the court will respect that agreement and not order the sale of the property.

Another exception is if the property is inherited by family members as tenants in common. In this case, New York law gives them some protection from partition actions by third parties who buy a share of the property and try to force a sale. The law allows the family members to first buy out each other’s interest before selling the property to a third party. 

What Are Some Alternatives to a Partition Action?

A partition action should be considered as a last resort when there is no other way to resolve the conflict between co-owners. There are some alternatives that may be more beneficial for both parties, such as:

  • Negotiating a voluntary sale or buyout: The co-owners can agree to sell the property together and split the proceeds, or one co-owner can buy out the other’s interest at a fair price.
  • Creating a co-ownership agreement: The co-owners can create a written agreement that outlines their rights and responsibilities regarding the property, such as how to manage it, how to share expenses and income, how to resolve disputes, and how to exit the co-ownership.
  • Seeking professional advice: The co-owners can consult with an experienced real estate lawyer who can help them understand their options and guide them through the legal process.


A partition action is a legal remedy for joint property owners who want to end their co-ownership.

However, it can also have drawbacks for both parties. Therefore, before filing a partition action, you should weigh your pros and cons and explore your alternatives.

If you need more information or assistance with your partition action or any other real estate matter in New York, please contact us at We offer free consultations and affordable fees. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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