Co-owners may force a sale of common property

The Court ordered that the plaintiffs were to sell the property in terms of the promise of sale agreement

The First Hall of the Civil Court authorised the sale of a property, which is held in common with a number of heirs.

Mr Justice Toni Abela decided this on 24 September 2019 in Alfred Raimondo, Anthony Raimondo, Emanuel Raimondo, Joseph Raimondo and Theresa Raimondo -v- Dr Ishmael Psaila and PL Noel Scerri as curators of the unknown heirs of the deceased Carmen Thomas and James Thomas, Maria Stockes, Cristina Alison Rowlands and Laura Jane Thomas,  for any interest they may have.

In the sworn application, the Raimondo family explained they are co-owners of a property in Floriana.

They became co-owners following the death of their mother Maria Raimondo.

Among the heirs there was the plaintiff’s sister Carmen Thomas, who died in 2001.

The property was purchased by the plaintiff’s parents in 1962. They had six children, the plaintiffs and Carmen Thomas.

When the parents died, all the children were declared heirs and therefore, had 1/6 of the property each. Carmen Thomas lived in the UK and had three children, who are parties to this action.

None of the parties started ay action to divide the estate. The Plaintiffs found a buyer for the property, who offered €110,000.
A promise of sale was drawn up and all the plaintiffs signed, however, the defendants did not.

The Plaintiffs therefore, asked the court to allow them continue with the sale of the property in terms of Article 495A of the Civil Code.
The defendant did not reply to the action.

Mr Justice Abela quoted from a previous judgement Dr Victor Bugeja noe -v- Dr Benjamin Valenzia, decided on 2 June 2016, wherein it was held that the law gave a relatively simple procedure for co-ownership to be concluded.

In another judgement George Camilleri pro et -v- Dr Joseph Ellis deiced on 9 January 2018, the Court held that the Court is bound to protect the interest of the minority co-owners, especially when they are absent.

The Court also has to keep in mind, the interest of the majority of the co-owners. There may be lack of communication between the parties or else there is no interest of some of the co-owners.

The Court pointed out the defendants have a very small share of the property and therefore, cannot see that the sale of the property will cause them any prejudice.

The fact that the defendants are absent or else represented by curators, should not cause any difficulty.

The Court then ordered that the plaintiffs were to sell the property in terms of the promise of sale agreement.

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