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Can any co-proprietor of a jointly owned property ask for the property to be sold in public auction?

Property Law

Antonio Flores Vila

1st of September 2001

Q. My father is 94 years old. He is in good mental condition but because of poor physical health he can no longer live at home alone in Avila. He needs money to pay for a private nursing home.

He owns half of an appartment in Madrid which is worth around 6 million pesetas (the other half belongs to the rest of the family (six children).

My brothers and sisters refuse to sell this propety because they want a biggger share if they do so after he dies. Dad needs the money NOW. Is there any law that protects my father. Can this appartment be sold now, when he is alive in spite of my family's opposition?

Could you recommned a lawyer in Avila that can help my father untangle this situation? I plan to be in Avila in few days please respond as soon as possible.

A. Khoury
New York

    A. According to the Spanish Civil Code, article 400 C.C., a co-proprietor is not obliged to remain in a joint ownership situation. This means that your Dad can put the house up for sale through a court claim and have it auctioned off. Bear in mind that auctions are likely to give a lower price than what you may be able to receive via an estate agent, and therefore it would be wise to establish negotiations with the rest of the co-proprietors of the property in order to avoid, firstly, a court case, and secondly, the possibility that the property is sold undervalued, at public auction, in a Court proceeding.

    I can recommend a lawyer in Ávila named Alberto Ferrer. Please contact the School of law in Ávila, 920 211281, or visit the premises, which are on Calle Rastro, 2, 3º, 05001 Ávila. You can speak to Daniel Encinar, and he should give you his details, as he has changed offices and numbers and I am not able to locate him.

    The Avila School of Law is closed until the 3rd of September.

    Let us know if you are lucky in your negotiations, and also if you need more help.

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