Can a co-owner sell a property?


A co-owner of a building is able to sell his undivided share in the building provided the buyer is willing to make a purchase in the said manner. the only other way is to divide a property, either through a court or by a partition deed, and then affect the sale of the divided property.

During a marriage, it is common for couples to jointly acquire property together; be it stocks, properties, vehicles and all.

They can do so in their own name or using both names together. I have also seen situations, although less common than in a spousal relationship, where married singles acquire properties together. Some business partners have also done the same in other circumstances.

In the unfortunate event that the marriage, relationship, or business breaks down, some of the disputes that arise regarding these assets or properties usually revolve around who has the right to keep or dispose of the properties acquired during the marriage. , relationship or business partnership.

Co-ownership is a form of ownership of the same property or assets by two or more people, which can be married couples, business partners, parents and their children, and even people who are apparently in love.

Under joint ownership, the parties share equal ownership of the asset or property and as such have equal undivided right to retain or dispose of the asset or property.

They also benefit from a right of survivorship in the event of the death of a co-owner. This means that when one partner dies, the other receives all of the property they jointly own, unless otherwise specified in a document by both parties.

A partner cannot, however, dispose of the property by will without the consent of the other party or the partner; even if the said relationship no longer exists.

Once the relationship ceases to exist, the ethical thing expected is for each party to agree on how the asset or property is to be disposed of and for both parties to share the proceeds equally.

Each party has equal rights and responsibility for any jointly held asset or property. All parties together own all of the property as a corporation and are each entitled to an equal and undivided right to the property and its sale proceeds. They are also responsible for any liability arising from its ownership.

In MAUREEN OTIGBAH & ORS v. AGATHA ADETUTU UWANAKA & ANOR (2020) LPELR-49539 (CA)

The Court set out the position of the law that in order for there to be a valid division of co-owned property, all co-owners must consent to the division of the property and the division must be in equal shares or where that does not can be achieved, provision would be made for the payment of a sum of money to ensure equal sharing.

The parties in this case are the children of the deceased

The callers and the 2nd respondent are children of the same mother while the 1st respondent has a different mother. The common denominator between the parties is their late father. The root of the contest in this appeal is the property left behind by their father.

In other circumstances, a husband may purchase property in his wife’s name or vice versa. In such circumstances, the law would presume an intention to give the property to the wife or husband, as the case may be. This is called a presumption of advancement. When a wife buys a property in her husband’s name, it does not belong to her. Rather, the husband holds the property in trust (as guardian, to help him keep the property) for his wife. However, when a husband buys a property in his wife’s name, the property belongs to the wife and it is considered a gift from him to her.

This is what the Court said in JOLUGBO & ANOR c. AINA & ANOR (2016) LPELR – 40352 (CA) (Pp 27 – 29 Paras A – D) where Hon. Judge Amina Adamu Augue JCA (as she was then) said that: “The law also makes a distinction between husband and wife – when a wife buys property and passes it on to her husband’s name, there is no has no presumption of advancement in favor of her husband; he holds in trust for his wife.

However, if the husband buys property in his wife’s name, it is prima facie a gift to her – see Silver v. Silver (1958) 1 All ER523. Thus, if a man does not wish to offer his wife a property, it must be purchased in his name or in the joint names of himself and his wife.

I have also seen cases where both spouses have contributed financially towards the purchase of a property and the relationship is dissolved, the wife claims to have purchased the property together but is unable to prove it.

Unless the spouse claiming the contribution can provide convincing proof of a direct and substantial contribution to the acquisition of the property, this spouse cannot claim co-ownership. Especially, when the property in question was purchased in the name of one or other of the parties.

Unless proven otherwise, property purchased by a husband in the sole name of his wife is presumed to be a gift to her.

This can also extend to the case where a husband acquires a land title with his funds alone but inserts his wife’s name as co-owner. In such cases, the wife will acquire an equal interest in the property.

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