Vancouver Lawyers Advising on Partition of Property Act Disputes
Co-owned property is the source of many real estate disputes in Canada, particularly where the owners disagree on the disposal or retention of the property. In British Columbia, disputes involving real estate co-ownership are typically adjudicated under the province’s Partition of Property Act.
The real estate litigators of Meridian Law Group understand the myriad of emotional, financial, and contractual factors at issue in partition of property disputes. The firm has established experience with the most complex cases involving the forced sale or division of co-owned property. Clients receive creative and robust real estate solutions that position them for success in and out of the courtroom.
What Is the Partition of Property Act in British Columbia?
The Partition of Property Act sets out the law respecting the physical division and sale of co-owned land or property, as well as the distribution of sale proceeds. The Act provides a roadmap for resolving partition-related disputes in cases where the owners do not have a written agreement governing their co-ownership of the property.
Most partition of property claims relate to the forced sale of real estate instead of partition. However, an order for partition under the Act is deemed to create a subdivision under the Land Titles Act.
Who Does the Partition of Property Act Apply To?
Under the Partition of Property Act, all joint tenants, tenants in common, coparceners, mortgagees, other creditors having liens on land, and any other parties interested in land may bring a claim (or be named as defendant to a claim) for the partition or sale of a property.
Partition of property disputes most commonly arise where one co-owner wishes to sell the property and receive their share of the sale proceeds, while another prefers to keep the property (for example, as a long-term investment).
When Will the Court Force the Sale of Co-Owned Property?
In cases where at least 50% of a property’s owners request partition or sale, the Partition of Property Act requires the Supreme Court of British Columbia to direct the sale of the property, along with any necessary directions. A co-owner wishing to prevent the sale must demonstrate to the Court that there is a good reason not to order the sale. For example, the disputing party may provide evidence of an agreement between the owners that the property would not be sold or may prove that a sale would create an unreasonable hardship to the other co-owner(s). The Court may also refuse to order the sale if the applicant did not act in good faith or acted vexatiously or maliciously.
Regardless of whether the majority of owners wish to force a sale of the property, the Court will review all circumstances of the case to determine whether an order under the Partition of Property Act is appropriate. For example, in cases where a property is only owned by two parties, and both would suffer equal hardship caused by a sale, the Court is less likely to find “good reason” not to order the sale.
Partition or Sale of a Property With Multiple Co-Owners
While many disputes involve two joint tenants (or other legal owners/interested parties) who disagree on the future of their property, the Partition of Property Act has also been used to adjudicate cases with numerous co-owners.
The most often-cited example of such a situation is the Cypress Gardens case, involving a condominium complex in North Vancouver, B.C. The complex comprised 177 individual units owned by 135 owners, all of whom were legally considered “co-owners” of the entire property. Seven owners applied to the Court to force the sale of the whole complex to a development company, with most other owners opposing the application.
In denying the application, the Court found that many of the owners (especially those who were particularly vulnerable due to age, financial means, family status, or infirmary) would be forced from their homes and may be unable to find comparable housing in the same area. Additionally, most owners reasonably believed when they bought their homes that they were purchasing individual units and not an interest in the complex as a whole.
Meridian Law Group: Offering Innovative Partition of Property Advice in British Columbia, Canada & Internationally
Meridian Law Group represents parties in a variety of conflicts involving co-owned property. The firm’s real estate team attempts early resolution of Partition of Property Act disputes whenever possible to preserve relationships and minimize costly court proceedings. However, when settlement is not possible, the tenacious litigators of Meridian Law Group are an authoritative presence in the courtroom and aggressively advocate for each client’s interests.
Since 1988, Meridian Law Group has been a cornerstone of the Vancouver legal community and is known for providing cutting-edge legal services. The firm represents clients across British Columbia, including West and North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Penticton, Kelowna, Richmond, New Westminster, Burnaby, Surrey, Langley, and White Rock. The firm’s knowledgeable real estate team also assists clients across Canada and internationally. To schedule a consultation, contact Meridian Law Group online or at 604-687-2277.