What can be done?

Q: My wife and her sister are joint owners of a house and property left by their mother. The sister does not care anything about the property and pays nothing on the up keep of property. We pay all the taxes, home owner’s insurance and all utilities and have been doing this for 5 years plus. We made a fair offer to sister to buy her out and she refuses! Is there anything we can do to force her to remove her name from the deed or how can I get her to pay me back for all the money and upkeep we have put into house? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: I would show the deed to an attorney to check how you own the deed. If you are tenants in common, you can sell your half or bring an action in equity against her for reimbursement of your upkeep of her half. If you are joint tenants with rights of survivorship, your only remedy that I am aware is a partition action. These actions are rather expensive as you will need to pay for appraisals and pay a court appointed mediator to review the entire matter.

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