The common law recognizes an action for equitable reimbursement. When two persons are co-tenants and one of them incurs expense in the improvement of the property that is necessary and beneficial, it is equitable that the one incurring the expense shall have contribution from his cotenant in an amount which is in proportion to the undivided interest owned by such cotenant. Wagner & Brown, Ltd v. Sheppard, 282 S.W.3d 419, 425 (Tex. 2008).
Because the care, maintenance, upkeep, and preservation of the property rests upon the owners collectively, a co-tenant in real property, who incurs certain necessary expenses in the actual preservation of that property and the valuation thereof, is entitled to reimbursement from the other co-tenant. Poenisch v. Quarnstrom, 386 S.W.2d 594, 597-98 (Tex. Civ. App.-San Antonio 1965, writ ref’d n.r.e.); Gonzalez v. Gonzalez, 552 S.W.2d 175, 181 (Tex. Civ. App.-Corpus Christi 1977, writ ref’d n.r.e.).
There are limitations on the non-asserted claims and non-tried claims for reimbursement. If a Plaintiff properly pleads a claim for reimbursement, the defendants would should assert the affirmative defense of the statute of limitations. A Plaintiff could be barred from making a claim for reimbursement after four years have passed. This is a common topic in real estate disputes.
Williams v. Shamburger is a partition suit which was brought by the Appellants as the result of the judgment in Williams v. Williams, 559 S.W.2d 888 (Tex.Civ.App.—ref. n.r.e.) which held that the land in question in the instant case was owned as tenants in common, one-tenth by the Appellants herein and nine-tenths by the Appellees herein.
The Appellants brought a suit for partition of the land and to recover money alleged to have been expended for the maintenance and improvement of the property and for the payment of taxes assessed against it. It was a bench trial where the court found that the plaintiffs should take nothing in their claim for expenditures for maintenance and improvement of the property and the payment of the taxes. The trial court held that the expenditures made by the Appellants were offset by benefits received by Appellants from renting and utilizing the property.
The Appellants held exclusive possession of the property for approximately 25 years to the exclusion of Appellees. The Appellees collected rents and did not share it the rents with the co-owners. Appellants as co-owners…of the property were obligated to share the income with their co-owners and were entitled to recover the reasonable and necessary expenditures for the preservation of the property. A cotenant who improves property without the consent of his cotenant cannot recover the actual amounts expended…recovery for such improvements is limited to the value of the enhancement of the property at the time of the partition.
If you have a question about reimbursement laws, you are welcome to contact a board certified attorney at The Weaver Law Firm at 713-572-4900.