JohnMenszer2-Crop-1000172Louisiana law provides an out for co-owners when they cannot agree about a piece of property.  This situation arises, for instance, with inherited real estate when one heir lives in the home and the other heirs live out-of-state.  The party directly benefiting cannot force the other heirs to provide him a place to live.  The law gives the heirs an option to force the sale of the property and to have the proceeds divided up pro-rata.

This is called a Partition by Licitation and any co-owner can petition the court to order a judicial sale.  If the property cannot be divided up in equal shares (and with most real estate this in not practical), then the court will order the sheriff of the parish to sell it at a public auction.

It is better and cheaper if people co-operate.  It is better if they can agree to hire a real estate agent and privately sell the property, because it will get a better price than at an auction.  Sometimes, it is just not possible.

The partition sale is conducted by public auction after due notice to all the parties.  The purchaser at the public auction can be one of the co-owners buying out the others, or, and more usually, a third-party.  A court appointed notary will be ordered to divide up and distribute the sale proceeds to the co-owners.  If there is no opposition the attorney fees can be built-in as a cost of the sale.

In New Orleans, the process may take several months or longer, because of the number of legal steps involved.  I consider the Partition by Licitation to be a last resort tactic, but it is a useful tool when simple co-operation does not work.