Co-tenants in Texas that bring partition suits often have claims for reimbursements that may include insurance premiums, repairs, improvements, rent and taxes. In many situations, one co-owner of real estate has paid expenses or collected rent for the property for years and sometimes decades.
These claims for reimbursements are typically pleaded as a claim for contribution. In other areas of Texas law, contribution claims have generally been subject to two or four year limitation periods. Do these limitation periods apply to an adjustment of equities between joint owners of property?
Courts in Texas have consistently held that such limitation statutes are not applicable in suits for partition and adjustment of equities between tenants in common. Tapp v. Tapp, 134 S.W.2d 683, 685 (Tex. Civ. App. 1939). Courts have reasoned that a co-owner relationship in Texas is a voluntary one, and as long as the will to jointly own property exists, no cause of action accrues. Id.
This means that suits for rent collected by one co-owner but not shared with another co-owner are viable years after rent has been collected. Alternatively, claims for reimbursement of real estate taxes or mortgages may prevail years after these expenses have been paid. Claims for reimbursements are complex and a competent real estate attorney should be retained if one is considering making a claim for contribution.
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