Sharing Property Losses

My partner and I bought a piece of land 5 years ago. It was for $420,000. I paid half cash, about $210,000 and my partner agreed to make monthly payments until it was paid off. The value of the land went way down and my partner stopped making payments. In 5 years, he made about $70,000 in payments. We settled with the bank and paid $10,000 is settlement through short sale. We split the settlement fee half and half. I am asking my partner to shoulder some of my loss by splitting the total loss. He says that he is not responsible for my loss. I have witnesses supporting my claim that we were 50/50 partners. However, we did not put anything in writing. Although she made the monthly payments for 5 years. Am I stuck with this huge loss or can I sue my partner for the loss and damage to my credit rating? I must say that my partner and I share a few other properties and he has other properties as well. I just do not feel that because the value of the land went down, I should suffer, where he walked away with much less losses. What can I do?

A: The answer to this question is yes, you do have a claim. It is a bummer that your contract was not in writing. But that does not mean it is not enforceable. If there are email or other written documents confirming your deal, that will help. At any event, you may also have a claim for something called “contribution,” which would require your partner to pay his half of the losses of your enterprise. I have handled these cases before and would be happy to discuss your options if you would like.

* This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the State of Arizona only. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. You should not rely on this advice alone, and nothing in these communications creates an attorney-client relationship.

Brad Denton, Mesa Business Attorney.
Re-posted from AVVO Legal Questions & Answers.

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