Orlando, FL asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Puerto Rico

Q: My half brother and I are part owners of a house our father left us but I own majority of the house and I want to sell

If my half brother and I are part owners of a house our father left us but I own majority of the house, can I sell The whole house to my daughter for a very low price? Even if he does not want to sell his part. Can I force the court to agree on selling the house? No one has lived in the house for more than 14 years and my brother has never helped to pay the taxes on the house as well. Is there a way I can sell if he disagrees on giving up his part?

1 Lawyer Answer
Rafael  Pagan-Colon
Rafael Pagan-Colon
  • San Juan, PR
  • Licensed in Puerto Rico

A: Several matters need to be addressed through your question. First of all, what you and your brother have are an "pro indiviso" interest in the property, which means that you may only sell your share of the real estate property; but you cannot sell the entire house: not to your daughter; not to anyone.

However, the Puerto Rico Civil Code states that no one may be forced to remain in a property community. If your brother refuses to sell, you may go before the Puerto Rico courts to request selling the property. The courts can order your brother to appear for signing the sales deed; and if he doesn't, the courts can order a marshall to appear in your brother's stead. In such a case, his part of the proceeds of the sale would have to be consigned with the courts.

Finally, as to the matter of the sales price, when you mention selling "for a very low price" the Public Registry may determine that such a sale is, in effect, a simulated donation, and may force you to submit a donation tax filing with the Puerto Rico Treasury Department before inscribing the "sales" deed to transfer ownership with the Public Registry. It all depends on what the property value is in the Public Registry books. This is done in an effort to avoid illicitly minimizing the tariff taxes paid to the Registry as part of notifying the sale.

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