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House Calls: Tenant Selection

Edith Lank on

Brother Won't Sell

Dear Edith: My brother, sister and I own a lakeside family cottage.

My sister and I want to sell, but my brother wants to hold on to it. My sister desperately needs the money from the sale. We have two sets of neighbors who are keen to make offers. Do we have any options to force our brother to sell? -- S. H.

Answer: Yes, the law provides a way to force a sale. With a few exceptions, any co-owner can go to court and ask that the property be put up for sale at a public auction.

The process has been described as "foreclosing on yourself," and it may yield less than full market value. And, of course, it won't do much for family harmony. But perhaps a letter from your attorney that politely mentions the possibility would be enough to change your brother's mind.

Or maybe he's in a position to buy your shares out. He'd have his one-third ownership to use as equity if he wanted to borrow the rest on a mortgage.

Dream House Problems

Ms. Lank: I was highly amused by the woman's complaints regarding her new dream house. She was considering legal action.

The light switch doesn't work? It costs less than $1 for a simple unit. A lifetime supply of electrical tape costs under $2. Needle nose pliers go for under $10 -- and you should have those around the house anyway.

The toilet runs? Get a flapper valve and/or flush unit. I just replaced ours on Monday for under $15. And I am 75 years old.


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