What rights do I have over joint owner's tenant?

Hoping someone can shed some light here so I can be sure to act within my rights.

I jointly own (me: 75%, co-owner: 25%) a condo in New York City. My co-owner realized that he can rent his bedroom out for a decent amount of money and go live abroad without working. Good for him, but I’m left living with and managing his tenant. I was ok with this at first but it’s wearing on me.

He has no lease with the tenant, just an agreement that the tenant can stay until mid-next year, with the option to extend.

He and I have no formal agreement together about how this works. We’ve always been friendly and worked with each other. I did not explicitly approve the tenant, though I suppose I did implicitly by not objecting. He told me one day, “here is your new roommate.”

I wish to give the tenant notice to leave, but I suspect after living abroad and not working for some time my co-owner will object to this so he can continue to ride the wave at my expense. The question is, do I need him to agree?

The way I see it, the only right he has is for himself to live in the apartment, but I want to be sure. Also a little concerned there might be some tenant protection law that gives him a right to live here if he was promised until the middle of next year.

Thanks in advance!

Is there no verbiage in your partner agreement regarding tenants?


Hi Keith- We have no partner agreement. Bad idea, I know. :slight_smile: We’ve always been able to work things through verbally and on the same page until now.

What document let’s you know that you actually have 75% ownership? That document should also define what rights each of you have.

Thanks for helping think this through. The 75/25 split is noted on the deed itself, which is recorded in the city register. There really is no agreement beyond that, unfortunately.

Sounds like you should go live abroad without working too. Maybe you should get some pointers from him.

In all seriousness, you need to talk to the other guy about this. Come up with an agreement or buy him out, or sell the place and buy another.

Agreed, but since he’s been away he’s become less interested in being fair. I don’t know if his health has declined or what but he’s been a different person. I’ve been offering to buy him out and try to get him to communicate about selling but he thinks I’m trying to take advantage of him and gets angry and stops responding. Really it’s the other way around at this point… I’ve gone along with his wishes trying to be fair and understanding.

I guess I should have mentioned that. My hope is that when I say I no longer want to live with tenants and want to put an end to our relationship, he’ll be understanding and we can come up with a timeframe and plan. But given his recent responses, I want to be prepared for him saying no. I’d like to know what my right is to ask the tenant to leave.


Quite honestly I’m struggling to understand why he has any rights as minority partner. In theory you two have a partnership that owns real estate and you are renting the same real estate for personal use. Any income you get should go 75% to you, although there should be some kind of correction for the fact he isn’t using his share and the place can be leased out for income. You guys have sort of done this with some kind of informal agreement that isn’t working anymore, but the only way to fix it is to put an agreement in that resolves the issue or to get out of the partnership.

Again, I am struggling to see where he has much say in anything as the minority partner but I don’t know how these things work. I would think that leasing would be your responsibility, not his.

You really need to talk to an attorney that can sort out the documents. State law may have more to do with this than anything else. Your only option might be to sell and send him 25% of the proceeds.

Yeah… hmm, it may be it’s time to get a lawyer’s opinion. I was hoping it’s pretty cut and dry. I really don’t think he has any right to demand that we keep his tenant in place, but I’d like to know what I’m getting into. I’ve spoken to him about selling and about buying him out but he hasn’t been receptive. Hoping it’s just a phase he’s going through as he fights with the idea that his income stream will be lost and he’ll be reasonable in the future.

How about finding him another income stream for what his 25% interest would be?

You find him a managed SFH in Whereever,USA that spins off the same amount of money and exchange it to him for the full deed to your condo.

It’s more work on your part but it might be easier than anything else.

Forget the lawyer thing. Your former roommate can’t afford an attorney anyway, and likely you can’t either. Just start moving forward to your advantage, and help your old roommate discover how much he wants to get his money and quit his position on the title of your condo.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you need to lead your roommate to a decision he’s resistant to face, or to make. End of story.

Despite what you might think, I actually don’t want the drama. I simply want to move on and I agree with the idea of “leading” him to the decision. However, given how he’s been reacting lately, I fear the co-owner will push back in any way he can think of, including asking his nephew the lawyer to file suit. I just want to understand my rights and the potential pitfalls of asking his tenant to leave. Can anyone confirm that I have a clear right to do that?


Since your roommate is likely to balk at any buyout offer YOU make, ask your roommate to buy you out. He probably can’t/won’t, but in the event he mentions a figure, likely it will represent a bargain to ‘him’. If that’s the case, then offer to buy him out using ‘that’ number.

For example, the condo’s worth say $500,000, but your roommate offers to buy out your 75% share for $250,000, then the total value of the condo would be $333,333. That means your roommate’s share represents $83,333. Don’t argue with that. Say, “OK, I’ll buy you out based on that valuation and give you $83,333.” It’s fair. It’s based on your roommate’s numbers, not yours.

If your roommate was smart, he’d have you mention a number first.

Of course the most accurate way to make a valuation is to sell the condo, and split the proceeds accordingly. Don’t forget it will cost 10% to market and sell the property, and that money doesn’t go to either of you.

Since you own 75% of the condo take 75% of the rent that this guy pays. Send your partner the 25%.

Appreciate the suggestions of how to split the rent, but I want the tenant out. I’d like to know if I’m within my legal rights to ask the tenant to leave if the co-owner refuses.

Unless there is something in writing to the contrary, you, by default, have the controlling interest in this property. You can do almost whatever you want.

The problem is, your co-owner entered into an agreement with a third party. The question is, “Are you liable to the contract?”

You should be able to get advice on this from a real estate attorney, or one that specializes in evictions. He can give you very quick, specific advice without charge.

Otherwise, you can follow my…
“10-Step Roommate Removal Plan”

  1. Become the smelliest, rankest, sloppiest person to live with as possible.
  2. Begin loud belching and farting.
  3. Play annoying music, constantly, especially during roommate’s naps; techno is good.
  4. Invite loud people over all the time that are instructed to be rude to your roommate.
  5. Fail to pick up ‘anything’ whatsoever.
  6. Nag incessantly about ‘everything,’ and then be completely hypocritical about what you do.
  7. Leave smelly food out.
  8. Do NOT wash any dishes, and let them pile up (wash as you need them).
  9. Keep the refrigerator as empty as possible.
  10. Wait.

This is genuinely the fastest way to chase off unwanted roommates. Repeat when necessary. If you leave the place a pig-stye after the current guy bails, your co-owner will have an impossible time of re-renting his room for anything decent…

However, that would also be the time to stop the co-owner from re-leasing his bedroom and force you to condo-share with a stranger.

I simply would not approve anyone your co-owner wanted to move into your condo. Simple as that.

That’s all I’ve got.

You should publish and sell your plan! :slight_smile: Well I just found this bit of info, which seems to make it pretty clear that I’m on the right track:


Not sure how I missed that in other searches I’ve done.

So yeah I’ll tell him I want the tenant out by a certain date, remind him that he owes me 75% of the rental income and I’m being super generous, and hope he sees that it’s time to accept a buyout. If he doesn’t cooperate, I’ll tell the tenant to leave and then he’ll have to find some income, aka get a job. :slight_smile: