Buying a property with another person -- be it a spouse, family member or business partner -- gives you more buying power, which means you can buy more properties or a nicer property that you could afford on your own. But, because you are joint owners, you must have each other's permission to take any actions regarding the property.
When you buy a property, you sign a series of contracts regarding payment and ownership. If you and another person borrow money to pay for real estate, you sign contracts indicating that you're both liable for the monthly payment. But, even if you pool you cash to pay for ownership outright, both you and the other person need each other's permission to transact regarding the property. Such usually is the case unless the deed assigns percentages of ownership to each of you and specifically allows you to act on your percentage of the property without the other's permission.
You may have bought real estate jointly with someone who is no longer involved with it. This could be the case if you bought a property with a now-estranged spouse or with a relative or business associate who relocated to pursue other interests. Even if you haven't spoken to the person in years, you need his permission to rent out the property -- the lease is void without his signature. He also may sue you for his portion of any rents collected on the property.
What to Do
If you're on good terms with your co-owner, consider asking him to provide you with a limited Power of Attorney or POA to lease the property. A POA allows you to sign the lease legally on his behalf. It's also a good idea to put in writing how the rent proceeds will be split, if at all, to avoid a future lawsuit. If your co-owner is an estranged spouse, you still need her written permission to legally rent the property.
If the co-owner no longer wishes to be involved with the property, consider having him turn over his ownership to you through a quitclaim deed, so you'll no longer need his permission to rent the property. You can fill out and file a quitclaim deed at the jurisdiction courthouse where the property is located or have an attorney prepare and file it for you.
Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.