Moss-covered stairs

Ownership Issues

California law requires that all contracts related to real property must be in the form of a signed written agreement in order to be enforceable. Therefore, before acquiring real property as a co-owner with another person, an experienced attorney should be retained to prepare a property-sharing agreement. Such agreements cover matters relating to the form of the title that is to be held, allocation of equity in the property, sharing the property expenses (e.g., mortgage, taxes, insurance, repairs/maintenance, capital improvements), co-occupancy arrangements, termination of the co-ownership, buy-out provisions, allocation of tax deductions, consequences of default by one of the co-owners and several other related matters.

I have developed the basis for a comprehensive property-sharing agreement (which could be used as an operating agreement for a limited liability company) that covers all of the aspects of shared ownership in real property and which I tailor to suit a variety of situations. Such agreements are crucially important for co-owners who are not married to each other, such as domestic partners, siblings, parents and children because the Family Law Act and even partnership law might not provide for certain terms or conditions that one of the parties desired or intended to have as part of their agreement, but the other party did not. The failure to reach a meeting of minds in proceeding to acquire real property as co-owners can lead to bitter controversies that could have been avoided if a thorough, written agreement had been executed.

In the event that there is no written agreement relating to the co-ownership of real property and one of the owners wishes to terminate the co-ownership, but the other owner refuses to liquidate the property or agree to a buy-out, it may be necessary to file a "partition action" in court in order to achieve resolution. My goal in these cases is to assist my client in reaching a settlement without going to court, but if that does not happen, I handle all aspects of partition lawsuits.

Sometimes title companies make errors, particularly in recorded documents with sometimes devastating legal consequences. I have experience representing owners in cases in which title companies do not correct their mistakes voluntarily.

This area of the law is rather complex; many other types of issues arise in connection with title to real property.