Solano County Partition Lawyers

At the request of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Solano County was named for Chief Solano of the Suisun people, a Native American tribe of the region and Vallejo's close ally. Solano County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. As of the 2020 census, its population was 453,491. The county seat is Fairfield. Travis Air Force Base is located just east of Fairfield. According to Redfin, in June 2023, Fairfield home prices were down 1.0% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $619K. On average, homes in Fairfield sell after 31 days on the market compared to 29 days last year. There were 92 homes sold in June this year, down from 116 last year. Solano County residents who own real estate may face disputes with co-owners. Generally, the best Solano County Partition Lawyers usually find partition action to be the best remedy for disputing co-owners in four broad categories: 

  • Family-owned real estate where only one party wants to sell;
  • Former romantic partners who jointly own real estate where only one party wants to sell;
  • Jointly owned real estate where only one party wants to sell; 
  • Partnership real estate where only one party wants to sell; 
What Is a Partition Action in California?

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. The best Solano County Partition Lawyer will be able to share information on this process with you.

What Are the Steps in a Partition Action?

The first step to a partition action is to petition the court for a partition of the property. In order to petition the court, a litigant must file a legally valid complaint for partition. As noted above, the litigant must be a co-owner of the subject property in order to have standing to file a partition complaint. (CCP § 872.210.)  

Second, after filing the complaint, a litigant must then obtain an interlocutory judgment of partition in the correct procedural form. An interlocutory judgment is a temporary judgment ordered before the close of trial during the litigation of the case. Under Code of Civil Procedure section 872.720, the court must enter an interlocutory judgment when the court finds that the Plaintiff in a partition action is entitled to a partition. In order to obtain an interlocutory judgment, a litigant must establish their right to partition by proving they have an ownership interest in the subject property.  

Third, if the court finds that a litigant has an ownership interest in the subject property and grants an interlocutory judgment of partition, the court will then appoint a partition referee to oversee the partition of the property. A partition referee is a neutral third party appointed by and accountable to the court to assist the court in matters related to partition actions. (CCP § 873.510.)

Fourth, Once the referee has provided the court with their report, the court must determine the proper method for partitioning the subject property. The court determines the proper method of partition by determining which method of partition is more equitable.   

Fifth, once the court has determined the proper method of partitioning the subject property, the court will then order a final judgment of partition, and the property will be partitioned according to the proper method determined by the court.  If the court orders a partition by sale, there must be an accounting to distribute the proceeds of the sale in strict compliance with the requirements of the evidentiary code. A top Solano County Partition lawyer will be familiar with the process.

Can You Mediate a Partition Action?  

A partition action can always be resolved informally at any time prior to the first day of trial, or entry of judgment. In fact, in numerous instances, just filing the partition itself leads the other party to seek a resolution between them. We always encourage the parties to talk throughout every phase of the process, as that can lead to the best outcomes for everyone.

From our perspective, every piece of litigation is just part of a larger “negotiation.” In any negotiation, the party who has the best leverage is usually able to achieve a more favorable outcome. The lawsuit provides the client with more leverage because they have more options available to them than without the prospect of a resolution from a judge. As such, all that a lawsuit does is provide one party with more leverage in the negotiation about how to resolve the dispute. For this reason, the best way to informally resolve a dispute is to combine discussions with active litigation, so that the matter can be quickly resolved without unnecessary expense. Throughout the process, our attorneys are in touch with our clients about their options and the prospects for informal resolution through mediation or negotiation. A knowledgeable Solano County Partition Attorney will be able to give you good advice on these issues.

What Are Claims for “Contribution”?

An action for partition may include an accounting so that the respective rights of the parties can be adjusted and settled. ( Lazzarevich v. Lazzarevich , (1952) 39 Cal. 2d 48, 50–51.) A cotenant who has advanced fund to pay common expenses is entitled to reimbursement from the sale proceeds before the balance is divided and distributed to the cotenants. ( Southern Adjustment Bureau, Inc. v. Nelson (1964) 230 Cal. App. 2d 539, 541.) A cotenant out of possession can require the cotenant in possession to account for rents and profits or other compensatory adjustment in the division of sale proceeds. (CCP § 872.430.) An experienced Solano County Partition Attorney will be intimately familiar with these matters.

A Partition Case Study: Bordessa v. Lanker (2008): Waste and Injunctions

Preliminary injunctions are a form of relief generally used in litigation to preserve the status quo while the merits of the case are being decided. The purpose of preliminary injunctions is to prevent irreparable harm to a party if the status quo is not preserved.

There also are other reasons a court may order a preliminary injunction. Another reason to order a preliminary injunction is to prevent property waste. In the context of property law, waste is when there is damage to real property that lowers its value. In litigation involving property, it is important to consider asking the court for an injunction so that your property’s value is not affected.

What Led This Case to the Court of Appeal?

The property at issue in Bordessa v. Lanker (2008) Cal.App.Unpub. WL 808911, was a ranch in Sonoma County that Dorothy Bordessa and Barbara Lanker inherited from their parents. ( Id. , at 1.) Bordessa and Lanker each received a one-half interest in the property and transferred that interest into a trust. ( Id. ) Alfred and Joseph Bordessa were the successor co-trustees of the Bordessa Trust. ( Id. ) Fritz and Barbara M. Lanker were trustees of the Fritz and Barbara Lanker Living Trust. ( Id. )

The property consisted of a bunkhouse, a shed, and a barn. ( Id. ) Starting in 1991, the Lankers leased the property. ( Id. ) Their son, Ken Lanker, subleased the shed and surrounding area. ( Id. ) The lease and sublease renewed every year automatically on July 1. ( Id. )

In April 2005, the Bordessas sued the Lankers for partition by sale. ( Id. ) The Bordessas argued that partition in kind was not feasible because the property could not be physically divided due to zoning restrictions. ( Id. ) The Lankers cross-complained, seeking partition in kind. ( Id. ) The Lankers argued that the property could be physically divided because it consisted of three historical parcels. ( Id. )

In the meantime, another action involving the property began. ( Id. ) Around May 2005, the Lankers submitted applications to the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Division (PRMD) to recognize the three historical parcels on the property. ( Id. ) Though the Bordessas were co-owners of the property, they did not join in the application. ( Id. ) The Bordessas asked the PRMD to cancel the applications, and the PRMD put the applications on hold. ( Id. )

The Lankers applied for a preliminary injunction, which the trial court granted, ordering the Bordessas to withdraw their objections. ( Id .) In March 2007 the Court of Appeal reversed, finding that the trial court did not have the power to grant such an injunction. ( Id. )

During this time, the Bordessas also alleged that the Lankers allowed Ken to commit waste, including the unlawful use and management of the property in violation of county law and the terms of the lease. ( Id. , at 2.) The Bordessas sought treble damages and injunctive relief to prevent waste, in addition to partition. ( Id. )

Soon after the Bordessas filed their complaint, they served the Lankers and Ken with 60-day notices to terminate their tenancies. ( Id. ) The Bordessas also sent three-day notices to the Lankers and Ken to comply with the terms of the lease. ( Id. ) The Bordessas also stopped accepting rental payments from the Lankers. ( Id. )

In September 2005, the Bordessas hired a contractor, Mark Friedman, to inspect the property. ( Id. ) Friedman found numerous code violations and health and safety hazards. ( Id. ) The bunkhouse, shed, and barn had all been illegally converted for other uses. ( Id. ) The electrical hazards were so dangerous that Friedman recommended for all electrical power to the property to be shut off until everything was fixed. ( Id. )

In April 2006, the PRMD issued three notices of violation. ( Id. ) The Lankers’ attorney met with PRMD to figure out what specific actions were needed to comply with the notices of violation. ( Id. )

The Lankers’ attorney then sent a letter to the PRMD outlining his understanding of what actions needed to be taken. ( Id. ) The PRMD confirmed most of the actions in the letter but wanted the Lankers to make more repairs regarding the electrical problems. ( Id ., at 3.)

In May 2006, the Lankers told the Bordessas that Ken and his girlfriend were kicked off the property. ( Id. ) The Lankers also indicated that they would do everything in the letter to comply with the notices of violation. ( Id. ) Later, the county ordered the owners to either remove portions of the barn and electrical work or obtain permits and inspection to legalize the construction. ( Id. )

At various points throughout 2006, Friedman inspected the property. ( Id. ) Friedman found evidence that the bunkhouse was still being used as a residence and the shed was still being used for metal work or auto repair. ( Id. )

In January 2007, the Bordessas demanded the Lankers remove all personal property from the bunkhouse and all the metal work and auto repair items in the property. ( Id. ) They also requested the Lankers to remove all electrical services except what was needed to pump water for the livestock. ( Id. )

In February 2007, Friedman once again found evidence that the property was being improperly used. ( Id. ) Friedman also found non-agricultural vehicles on the property, that the lock on the bunkhouse had been changed, and there was a new lock on the shed. ( Id. )   

The Bordessas sent another letter to the Lankers, requesting for the Lankers to cease unlawful activities on the property and to remove the improper items. ( Id. ) The Lankers responded that Ken and his girlfriend were using the bunkhouse to store their belongings until they found a permanent home, and the other items were related to farm use. ( Id. )

The Lankers asked to meet to discuss the scope of repairs. ( Id. ) The Lankers wanted to only do minor repairs required by the county, while the Bordessas wanted to go beyond the county’s requirements. ( Id. )

In February 2007, the Bordessas requested an injunction to prevent the Lankers from using the property, to shut off electrical power to the property except what was needed to pump water, and to remove all personal property, vehicles, and tools not necessary for agriculture. ( Id. ) The court ordered the parties to meet and confer. ( Id. )

The parties met and conferred, and the Bordessas refused to agree to the Lankers’ suggested electrical work unless multiple conditions were met. ( Id. ) In March 2007, the Lankers sought a preliminary injunction preventing the Bordessas from interfering in the Lankers' attempts to make electrical repairs and approval for the sheetrock in the barn. ( Id. ) The Lankers claimed that all the required repairs were made except the electrical repairs and the sheetrock inspection, but all the owners had to sign for the permits on that work. ( Id ., at 5.)

The trial court granted the Lankers’ injunction. ( Id. ) The trial court also granted a modified version of the Bordessas’ injunction. ( Id. ) The Bordessas did not seek to enforce their injunction, and they appealed the trial court’s order granting the Lankers’ injunction. ( Id. ) The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment. ( Id. , at 1.)

Bordessa’ s Holding: Avoiding Property Waste with Injunctions

The Bordessas first argued that the injunction was unnecessary because it was intended to change the status quo rather than maintain it while full determination of the action was pending. ( Id. , at 5.) Maintaining the status quo, however, is only one consideration in ordering a preliminary injunction. ( Id .) One consideration for issuing a preliminary injunction is to prevent waste. ( Id. )

The Court of Appeal found that the conditions on the property constituted waste. ( Id. ) The conditions on the property were what led the county to issue orders requiring the owners to bring the property up to code. ( Id. ) If the owners failed to comply with these orders, there could be civil penalties, charge for fees, and a lawsuit against the owners. ( Id. ) The Bordessas themselves also submitted evidence that the electrical conditions on the property posed a danger that could result in waste. ( Id. )

The Bordessas argued that there was no urgent threat from the conditions that needed to be corrected. ( Id. , at 6.) The Bordessas themselves, however, sought an injunction in February 2007 based on the health and safety hazards on the property. ( Id. ) The Court of Appeal found that the property conditions were hazardous and threatening the property. ( Id. )

The Bordessas then claimed that the repair work required in the injunction was beyond what the county required. ( Id. ) The injunction, however, explicitly referenced the letters between the PRMD and the Lankers’ attorney which outlined the necessary scope of repairs. ( Id. ) The Court of Appeal rejected the Bordessas’ argument. ( Id. )

Next, the Bordessas contended that they had the right to withhold their consent to the repair work required by the injunction. ( Id. ) To support this argument, the Bordessas cited a case where the court held a cotenant cannot force another cotenant to join in making improvements to the shared property. ( Id. ) The Court of Appeal held that the case was not analogous to the situation and dismissed the Bordessas’ argument. ( Id. )

The Bordessas then argued that the injunction had a baseless mandatory effect. ( Id. , at 8.) The Bordessas claimed that injunction would force them to sign permits for repair work since the county required all owners to sign applications for building permits. ( Id. )

The injunction, however, did not explicitly require the Bordessas to sign for the permits. ( Id. ) The Court of Appeal concluded that the injunction merely prevented the Bordessas from objecting to the issuance of the permits. ( Id. ) The Court of Appeal also held that even if the injunction forced the Bordessas to sign for the permits, it would be justified because of the property’s dangerous conditions. ( Id. )

Bordessa shows what courts examine when considering a preliminary injunction, specifically when courts are trying to prevent waste. Bordessa is illustrative of conditions that courts will take into account when deciding on waste involving property. Courts will try to protect the property’s value for the sake of the co-owners involved in the litigation.

How Underwood Law Firm Can Help You

As seen in Bordessa , determining whether there is waste can be an important consideration when courts decide on a preliminary injunction involving property. Parties would be wise to preserve their real properties’ value in the litigation process, and parties can do so through a preliminary injunction. This is a valuable tool for parties to consider in property litigation.

Here at Underwood Law Firm, our knowledgeable attorneys are here to help navigate the complex web of case law and statutes surrounding partitions. If you are trying to plan a partition order, or just have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office.

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