Partitions In Washington State

Posted: Feb 26, 2019

By: Washington State Business and Real Estate Law Lawyer Babak Shamsi

Property Ownership

In Washington, there are multiple ways in which individuals can agree to co-own real property. The most common form of ownership between unmarried parties is as tenants in common.  Tenants in common have great flexibility in how they can divide ownership interests. For example, two owners can own a property evenly, or they can choose to split their ownership interests in another manner, such as by giving one owner a 75% interest and the other owner a 25% interest. Additionally, tenants in common can pass on ownership through their wills. Most owners agree to own real property as tenants in common given the overall flexibility it offers.

Ownership Disputes

Sometimes, however, disputes can arise between tenants in common. Owners may disagree over whether to sell a property, to alter it in some fashion, or for any number of other reasons. When tenants in common cannot settle problems amongst themselves, a partition action sometimes ensues. Partition of real property occurs in one of two ways: in kind or by sale.


A partition in kind occurs when real property is physically divided amongst the owners. These types of partitions tend to occur when the disputed property is large enough to be split practically. However, partitions in kind are not always practical given the size or location of a property, or given local zoning and/or subdivision requirements.

If partition in kind is not possible, a court can order a referee to conduct a partition by sale, where the disputed property is sold in accordance with a statutory auction process and the owners are reimbursed after the property’s sale. However, partitions by sale do not often maximize profits. Legal counsel in such actions is often valuable to help navigate the perils of partition litigation.

At Beresford Booth our lawyers have extensive experience solving real estate problems of all shapes and sizes, including those involving partition. We would be pleased to assist you if you have questions or concerns regarding real property issues.

Beresford Booth PLLC (425.776.4100),

BERESFORD BOOTH PLLC has made this content available to the general public for informational purposes only. The information on this site is not intended to convey legal opinions or legal advice.