Half-owner of house may need court order to sell

DEAR BRUCE: I'm half-owner of a house in Hawaii through a trust. My cousin owns the other half. He and his family are living on the property. It's a pigsty: They have animals and debris all over the inside of the house. And there is major work that needs to be done, but he refuses to spend a penny. The attorneys have talked about renting the house but there is no way this sty can be rented without a major investment. The real estate in Hawaii is soft right now. My savings are almost exhausted. I've suggested selling and he's willing, but no one would buy it in its present condition. What do you suggest? — B.T., Hawaii

DEAR B.T.: Unless your cousin is willing to move out and absorb half the cost of fixing this place up, the next place you should go is to court — assuming you can find a court that would order this resolved. You mentioned that real estate in Hawaii is soft, and that may be true, but having a millstone like this around your neck is equally untenable. This is just another perfect example of why property should not be given in undivided interest to relatives (other than husband and wife).

Send your questions to: Smart Money, P.O. Box 2095, Elfers, FL 34680. E-mail to: bruce@brucewilliams.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns.

Share This Story