Can Joint Tenants File for a Partition?

Joint tenants share concurrent ownership of real property. The joint tenants concurrently own an undivided share of the property. In other words, each joint tenant owns an equal interest of a piece of real property. Any joint tenant may file a partition lawsuit to sever the joint tenancy relationship for the purpose of obtaining a court judgment to sell the property or physically divide the property.


Joint tenancy is one form of concurrent ownership of real property that is recognised by law. Other forms of concurrent ownership of real property include tenancy by the entirety and tenancy in common. Each type of property ownership has different attributes in the formation of the ownership and the rights of the property owners. A joint tenancy is created when all of the joint tenants receive an equal share of real property; at the same time; with an equal right to possess the property and manage the property; and under the same real estate instrument, such as a deed or a will. After a joint tenancy is created, all of the joint tenants share a right of survivorship in the property.

Joint Tenants Agreement

All of the joint tenants may establish a contract with each other, whereby each joint tenant agrees not to demand a partition of the property. Courts may uphold an agreement not to partition the property, if the agreement is the intent of all the parties. Additionally, the joint tenants may set up an expiration date of the agreement; if the agreement has no established duration, courts may enforce the contract for a reasonable time frame.

Partition Lawsuit

If the joint tenants have not created a contract to agree not to partition the property, any joint tenant may file a petition in court to demand a partition of the property. The court will determine whether the joint tenant who files the petition has a right to demand a partition of the property. Subsequently, the court has discretion to determine how to partition the property.


There are two common methods that a court will order to accomplish a partition of the property. A court may physically divide the property between the joint tenants if division is in the best interest of all of the parties to the lawsuit. Otherwise, the court will partition the property by sale, and the proceeds of the sale are divided among the joint tenants. Alternatively, in some cases, the joint tenants and their attorneys may set up an agreement to a specific way to the partition the property.

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About the Author

Marie Huntington has been a legal and business writer since 2002 with articles appearing on various websites. She also provides travel-related content online and holds a Juris Doctor from Thomas Cooley Law School.

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