Can I sue my parents if they are keeping money from the sale of a house that I paid for but was in their name?

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Can I sue my parents if they are keeping money from the sale of a house that I paid for but was in their name?

In 2008, my parents offered to purchase a home for my children and I. We moved into the house and I made every payment, to include insurance payments, but everything was still in my parents name. In February of this year, I took a job overseas and left my son in the house. He paid me rent, and I still made all the payments. In April, a car hit my house, starting it on fire. The insurance company paid to have it fixed, but all of us decided to pay the mortgage off and use the rest to fix it. Now my parents announced that are selling the house and keeping all the money. Can they do that?

Asked on August 23, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You have some problems here and you may have some big hurdles to overcome, but I think that you need to try.  You need to seek help from a real estate attorney in your area right away.  We are not going to term this a purchase of real property because then it would be subject to what is known as the Statute of Frauds, which briefly states that the purchase of real property has to be in writing and signed "by the party to be charged" in order to be valid.  So what would we say it is: a gift possibly?  A loan?  I think that the attorney will have to be very creative in how this is couched in order to overcome the matter.  But I think that you need to try.  At this point they have the right to sell it.  You need to bring a declaratory judgement action to determine ownership.  Good luck.   


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