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Kapcsos v. Benshoff

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

June 29, 2017

ADAM L. KAPCSOS Appellee
v.
MALISHA J. BENSHOFF Appellant

          Appeal from the Judgment Entered March 8, 2016 In the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County Civil Division at No(s): 2014-4183

          BEFORE: LAZARUS, J., SOLANO, J., and STRASSBURGER, J. [*]

          OPINION

          SOLANO, J.

         Appellant, Malisha J. Benshoff, appeals from the entry of judgment on March 8, 2016, in this action for partition of real property. Although we agree that the parties own the premises jointly and that the premises may be partitioned, we hold that the trial court erred by misallocating the amount owed by Appellee, Adam Kapcsos, to Benshoff upon partition. Thus, we vacate the judgment below and remand for further proceedings.

         Benshoff and Kapcsos purchased the property in Sidman, Cambria County ("the Property") by a deed dated March 30, 2005, that was recorded on May 27, 2005. Benshoff and Kapcsos never married, and the deed stated that it conveyed the Property to "MALISHA J. BENSHOFF, a single individual, and ADAM J. KAPCSOS, a single individual, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, as joint tenants with the right of survivorship, Grantees." The deed recited further that the conveyance was "for and in consideration of the sum of NINETY THREE THOUSAND AND ($93, 000.00) DOLLARS . . ., unto [Grantor] well and truly paid by the said Grantees." Kapcsos' Ex. A, at 1 (emphasis deleted).

         Benshoff and Kapcsos separated in 2008. Kapcsos filed this action for partition of the Property on October 29, 2014, after which Benshoff filed an answer and counterclaim for partition.

         The trial court held a bench trial on May 27, 2015, and made the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on July 7, 2015:

1. [Kapcsos] and [Benshoff] purchased real property [in] Sidman, Pennsylvania on May 27, 2005, as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. The [P]roperty consists of a lot with a single-family residence built on it.
2. The purchase price of the [P]roperty was $93, 000 and Kapcsos made a deposit/earnest payment of $2, 000 from his savings with an additional payment at the closing of $20, 322.56 made from his savings. Benshoff did not contribute any funds towards these amounts.[1]
3. The balance was financed with a mortgage in the amount of $74, 000 in both parties' names.
4. The parties were not married at the time of the purchase and never married thereafter.
5. In May 2008, Kapcsos moved out of the residence and Benshoff took up occupancy with the couple's minor child until March 2010 when she moved out.
6. In April 2010 Kapcsos took up residence on the [P]roperty where he has remained since.
7. Upon retu[r]ning to the [P]roperty Kapcsos found a shed the parties had purchased was removed by Benshoff.
8. Benshoff also removed all the personal property and all the furnishings, excepting the stove and refrigerator.
9. Kapcsos found the [P]roperty in need of repairs and engaged in a period [of] remodeling that included new carpets, painting almost every room, upgrading the bathrooms, repaired the fireplace, replaced the hot water tank, and other projects.
10. From May 2008 through March 2010[, ] Benshoff paid all the expenses relative to the [P]roperty including the mortgage and utilities.
11. From April 2010 to the present[, ] Kapcsos has paid all the expenses related to the [P]roperty including the mortgage and utilities.
12. As of April 20, 2010, the mortgage had an outstanding balance of $62, 694.60 with a monthly payment of $528.
13. As of April 6, 2015, the mortgage had an outstanding balance of $52, 545.11 with a monthly payment of $563.
14. From January 1, 2011 through the present[, ] the [P]roperty had a monthly fair rental value of $800.
15. The parties, as joint tenants with the right of survivorship, each have a one-half interest in the [P]roperty.
16. The [P]roperty is not capable of division, without prejudice to or spoiling the whole, into purparts[2] proportionate in value to the interests of the co-tenants[.]
17. The property can be most advantageously divided into a single purpart.
18. Kapcsos remains in the [P]roperty and desires to maintain possession of it. As such he will be awarded the single purport and Benshoff shall execute a deed to this effect upon payment of an owelty, to be calculated below, and refinancing of the mortgage to remove Benshoff's name from the debt.
19. The [P]roperty has a current appraised value of $102, 000.
20. The current mortgage is $52, 545.11 as of the last statement entered. . . .
21. The current equity in the [P]roperty is $102, 000 -[$]52, 545.11 = $49, 454.89.
22. Each party is entitled to their one-half interest in the equity calculated as $49, 454.89 / 2 = $24, 727.45.
23. Benshoff is entitled to a credit for ½ the fair rental value of the property from January 1, 2011 through July 1, 2015. This being the only period for which a fair rental value has been established.
a. Her credit is calculated as $800/month X 54 months
= $43, 200 / 2 = $21, 600.
24. Kapcsos is entitled to the following credits:
a. Hot water heater valued at $292.56 ($276 $16.56 tax). Kapcsos is not entitled to any credit for other improvements as they were not necessary to preserve or safeguard property.
b. One-half the mortgage payments made from April 1, 2010 through July 1, 2015. . . . [A]s of April 1, 2010, the payment was $528 per month. As of April 1, 2015 this amount increased to $563. . . . Accordingly the mortgage credit is calculated as follows:
i. April 1, 2010 through March 1, 2015: 59 months X $528 month = $33, 404.
ii. April 1, 2015 through July 1, 2015: 4 months X $563 = $2, 252.
iii. $33, 404 $2, 252 = $33, 404 / 2 = $16, 701.
c. Deposit/earnest payment of $2, 000 plus cash paid at closing of $20, 322.56 = $22, 322.56. These sums may not be used in determining the parties' interest in the property but under Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1570(a)(5) the Court may award credit for payments made or liabilities incurred by a party. The Court finds that by making these payments out of personal funds Kapcsos made a payment that inured to the benefit of Benshoff and is entitled to credit for that payment.
25. The owelty [to which] Benshoff is entitled is calculated as:
$ 24, 727.45 representing her ½ share of the equity
$ 21, 600.00 representing her ½ share of the ...

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