O is the owner of Greenacre, a single-family house on a city street. O dies, leaving the house to O’s three adult children, A, B, and C, as joint tenants with right of survivorship.
Both A and B have spouses, and each has two minor children. C is unmarried and has one minor child.
A, B, and C agree that A will live in the house. They do not discuss how long this arrangement might last. The rental value of Greenacre is $9,000 per year, but A does not pay rent to B or to C.
During the first year of A’s occupancy, A pays the property taxes on Greenacre, which are $12,000 per year. B and C each reimburse A for one-third of this amount, which means that A, B and C each pay $4,000 in property taxes. The three repeat this process during the second year of A’s occupancy.
At the end of the second year, C dies, leaving all of C’s real property to C’s child, D.
In the third year, A again pays $12,000 in property taxes. A then asks B to pay a share of the taxes. This time, B refuses to do so.
B then notifies A that B wants to move into Greenacre with B’s spouse and their two children. In response, A correctly points out that the house is not big enough for two families, but B is indifferent to this fact. After some argument, B files a partition action, naming A and D as defendants. Assume that there is no issue regarding ouster.
A answers the complaint, and alleges that B is demanding partition merely because B is angry at A. Therefore, A argues, B is acting in bad faith, which should defeat B’s attempt to obtain partition. In addition, A asserts a counterclaim against B for B’s share of the $12,000 in taxes paid by A during A’s third year of occupancy.
- Upon C’s death, what interests do A, B, and D, respectively, hold in Greenacre? Explain.
- What is the most likely disposition of B’s partition claim? Explain.
- Is A entitled to recover any of the property tax payments from B, and if so, in what amount? Explain.