Co-Ownership of Property

I’m not sure where to turn. Although I am currently working with an attorney, I need some additional advice because the case that I am involved with is so wacky.

This is not exactly a divorce issue, however many things are applicable (I believe).

A little over 5 years ago, I bought a property with a good friend of mine and a previous roommate. As two single guys, we thought that it would be a good opportunity to buy a condo in the Charlotte uptown area, and then attempt to sell it for a profit eventually. Neither one of us had immediate intentions are marrying; we just wanted a nice place that we could enjoy until the time came for us to eventually find someone whom we wanted to marry. Well, that was before the huge bubble. As we found out, the timing could not have been worse and the realization set in that we were going to be upside-down on the mortgage for quite some time.

As co-owners/partners in this investment opportunity, we were both on the Deed and the Deed of Trust. The deed of trust is written as a typical Deed of Trust, in that both parties are responsible for 100% of the mortgage (not separately listed as owning 50% of the mortgage each).

Originally, I put down the 3% needed for the mortgage. My friend was going to pay this back over time; which he was never able to completely pay back. Additionally, when he started dating someone he left the property. I didn’t mind, as long as his half was being paid. I received his confirmation in both email and over text message (which I have both) of this commitment to “half of the mortgage and HOA fees”. Together and with cooperation, we procured a tenant (who I lived with for a year) and eventually left after his year was up. After that year was up, I had my girlfriend sign a monthly, open ended lease with my partner for $800 a month. That leaves his share of $695, which covers the mortgage and HOA dues. This continued fine until a few months ago. Then things got strange…

He has since gotten married, and although I asked that his wife be excluded from the interest of the property he never complied. He eventually sold and bought a new property with his wife, who is expecting. Out of no where, I received a letter from an attorney with a threat of Partitioning the co-owned property. I started to seek legal advice, but then realized that if a forced partition were to occur, then at least we would BOTH own half of the sale and processing. I was ok with this (at least it was fair, right), so I told his attorney to “go ahead and file the partition action”. In parallel, I started getting appraisals together to find out what we were up against. The appraisals were not good news, we were upside-down nearly ±$21,000 with an average of the 4 appraisals I got. That didn’t even include seller costs.

So I had my attorney draft up a letter saying that we would settle for half of the appraisal difference ($10,500) or they can file for partition.

His attorney advised him that this would be a bad course of action, and told him that he would not agree with forcing the partition (apparently my partner wanted to force a partition, regardless). Ultimately, he didn’t want to pay any amount of the negative equity.

So, my partner hired someone else. His new attorney is interesting to say the least. Incomplete sentences, horrible grammar, misspellings (what real estate lawyer would spell “tenent” for “tenant”)! Anyway, he advised my partner to stop paying his share of the the mortgage entirely. So he did. He stopped paying the mortgage entirely. Yet, he never cancelled the lease with my girlfriend. Strange…

So, what are my options? If I have a verbal, and written commitment to half…what can I do? He is behind three months, and refuses to make up any negative equity. I am so frustrated. I’m being responsible by continuing to pay. My employment requires me to have outstanding credit. This situation has been exhausting, and all I want is a fair resolution. Please help!

Just a little bit more on this; what my current attorney is saying is that we send letters demanding payment towards the note, and provide my partners attorney of the texts/emails confirming continued payment. The plan is to continue sending letters and then eventually file for judgement. His attorney has the communication where we both agreed to make equal half payments towards the mortgage.

His attorney is stating that his client’s commitment is void, pointing to §17:11 “Parol contracts; statue of frauds, N.C. damages”. He is saying that the “contract” is not enforceable. But, my attorney disagrees saying that 3-4 clearly puts things back on my partner; it’s a commitment and both parties discussed the mutual agreement back and forth before the breech occurred.

This question is outside the scope of the forum as it is not a family law question. Further, your attorney who has specialized knowledge about your case is more equipped to answer your questions than any attorney in this type of setting. If you really want a second opinion, you should seek a consultation with another real estate attorney litigation attorney.