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Kolodziejczyk v. Charezinska

2005 WL 1712404 (N.J. Super. Ch. Div. 2005) (Unpublished)

DEEDS—When a party’s name appears on a deed as an accommodation, as evidenced by that party not having contributed toward the purchase, renovation or maintenance of the property, it is proper for a court to find that the party has no interest in the property even though named on the deed.

A man and woman purchased a parcel of property together as tenants-in-common. The man then conveyed his interest in the property to the woman by quitclaim deed. Later, the man sued in the Law Division, as opposed to the Chancery Division, to have the quitclaim deed voided on the basis of fraud and requested that his ownership interest be reinstated. At trial, a jury agreed with the man and ordered his ownership interest in the property restored. The lower court judge, at trial, admonished the woman that she could seek to have the property partitioned so that each would have a separate ownership interest. The woman did not seek to have the property partitioned, but two years later the man sued for partition. The Court analyzed the relationship between the man and the woman to determine their respective interests in the property and the value of their interests. In doing so, the Court found the woman’s factual account more credible and substantiated. The Court found that, contrary to the man’s assertions, the two did not intend to buy the property together. Rather, the woman intended to purchase it alone but required another person on the deed in order to obtain her mortgage. The Court found that the man did not have an equitable interest in the property because he did not contribute toward the purchase, renovation or maintenance of the property. This view was supported by the evidence that the majority of the funds used to complete the purchase and renovate the property came from the woman and not the man (who had limited funds). The Court viewed his agreement to have the property titled in his name as an accommodation. Therefore, the Court found that he did not have an equitable interest. Rather, the Court characterized his interest in the property as a nominal one. Once it determined the type of interest owned by the man, the Court set the value of that interest at one percent of the property’s value.

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