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Redondo Beach Partition Lawyers

The City of Redondo Beach was first occupied by Native Americans prior to 1784. The land later became part of the land grant given to the Juan Jose Dominguez family. Today, Redondo Beach is known for its piers, beautiful harbor, fine dining, and hotels. It is also known as one of the most exclusionary cities in Los Angeles because of the limitations put on housing production. Consequently, the median Redondo Beach home costs $1.4 million. Residents of Redondo Beach who own their own homes may wish to sell their homes. Jointly owned real estate, however, may become a problem if a dispute arises between co-owners.

What Is a Partition Action?

A partition action is a judicially-supervised forced sale of real estate. In California, each co-owner has an “absolute” right to partition the property. “Ordinarily, if the party seeking partition is shown to be a tenant in common, and as such entitled to the possession of the land sought to be partitioned, the right to partition is absolute, and cannot be denied, ‘either because of any supposed difficulty, nor on the suggestion that the interest of the co-tenants will be promoted by refusing the application nor temporarily postponing the action.” (Priddel v. Shankie (1945) 69 Cal.App.2d 319, 325 (emphasis added).) Thus, any owner of real estate (whether 5%, 50%, or 95%) has the right to bring a partition action in California.

Basically, any person who is an owner of real estate can bring a partition action in California. Code of Civil Procedure section 872.710, subdivision (a), states "A partition action may be commenced and maintained by any…owner of…such property." California Civil Code section 872.210 provides a property owner with the "absolute right to partition" absent a valid waiver. Thus, a partition action can be brought by anyone who no longer wants to own jointly owned real estate, other than spousal property.

What Are the Steps in a Partition Action?

Under the Partition of Real Property Act, the court instead appoints an appraiser to do the heavy lifting. The new statute states that the court “shall determine the fair market value of the property by ordering an appraisal.” (CCP § 874.316.) The court doesn’t have to be the one to order the appraisal, but this is only if all the co-owners agree to a different method of valuation. 

If, however, an appraisal occurs, it shall be conducted by a disinterested third-party real estate appraiser licensed to determine the fair market value of properties. After the appraisal is conducted, parties may file objections to the value and can even offer additional evidence of value to the court. 

After the valuation is complete, parties will be introduced to the key feature of the new statute: the buy-out option. If a co-owner requests a partition by sale, then the court will notify the other co-owners that they may buy all the interests of the cotenant that requested the partition. (CCP § 874.317.) 

This is, essentially, a right of first refusal. The co-owners who don’t want the property sold now have the option to simply buy out the requesting party. Additionally, the buy-out price will be based on the property’s valuation, determined earlier in the litigation. And if one or more parties exercise the buy-out, then the court will reapportion ownership percentages based on the price paid.

What Are the Common Types of Partition Actions?

Generally, a partition action is the best remedy for disputing co-owners in four broad categories:

  • Split ownership real estate dispute;
  • Brother-Sister real estate dispute;
  • Investor-Investor real estate dispute; and
  • Significant other real estate dispute
What Is an Example of a Partition Lawsuit?

Generally, when a party fails to timely file an answer to a complaint in a partition action, the other party may request to enter a default. After a default has been entered, that judgment may be set aside if it has been established that extrinsic factors prevented the party from presenting his or her case. The court may then set aside the judgment on the grounds of extrinsic fraud or mistake. Recently, the California Court of Appeal addressed the three elements that a party must show when seeking such equitable relief in a case decided by the Fourth District Court of Appeal known as Scales v. Bradley (2020) 2020 Cal.App.Unpub. LEXIS 7078.

There, Roosevelt Scales, Joyce Otis, and Lawrence Bradley purchased Property, and each acquired an undivided one-third interest in the Property but only Bradley resided there. Later, Scales and Otis sought to partition the Property by sale and although Bradley signed a notice and acknowledgement of receipt concerning the summons and complaint and signed a mail receipt after he received the notice of pendency, Bradley did not timely file an answer to the complaint. Scales and Otis filed a request to enter default, and the default was entered against Bradley. Seven months later, the trial court entered an interlocutory judgment that the house be sold and appointed a broker. Bradley then filed a motion to vacate and set aside judgment based on inadvertence and excusable neglect. The trial court granted Bradley’s motion and vacated the default and default judgment. Scales and Otis appealed.

The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding that “the party seeking equitable relief on the grounds of extrinsic fraud or mistake must show three elements: (1) a meritorious defense; (2) a satisfactory excuse for not presenting a defense in the first place; and (3) diligence in seeking to set aside the default judgment once discovered.” (Rodriguez v. Cho (2015) 236 Cal.App.4th 742, 750.) The Appellate Court determined that Bradley had a meritorious defense because after Bradley filed his motion to vacate the default and default judgment, he filed a proposed verified answer to the complaint which included 24 affirmative defenses. Further, the Appellate Court determined that he met his burden of showing a satisfactory excuse as he had many physical ailments that caused him to be unable to understand the gravity of the partition action and documents related to the suit. Last, the Appellate Court found that Bradley acted diligently in moving to set aside the default and default judgment. As such, the facts supported vacating the default and default judgment. Thus, Scales explains the exceptional circumstances in which equitable relief may be obtained.

How Underwood Law Firm Can Help

In order to start resolving these situations, you should contact an experienced Redondo Beach Partition Lawyer as soon as you are ready to start the next chapter of your life.

Learn more here.

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"We were in need of an attorney with considerable knowledge of real estate law and the legal issues related to property ownership. Eli Underwood went above and beyond our expectations. In keeping us abreast of our suit, his communication skills were outstanding. This talent was especially demonstrated when dealing with the apposing counsel. We feel this gave us a tremendous advantage over the opposing party that resulted in us reaching a successful outcome. I would highly recommend Eli Underwood as we found him to be an exceptional attorney." P.B.
"In our need for legal services we found Eli to be well informed and on top of our case and our needs. Our's was not an ordinary case as it was a case with many facets. It was a very convoluted case. There were multiple owners involved in a property dispute where one of the owners sued the rest of the owners with a Partition Suit. Needless to say Eli was instrumental in helping us resolve our differences and gained us a profitable sale all with good end results for all. If you hire Eli Underwood you will not be disappointed!" M.A.