What to do if I’m being sued for non-disclosure of defects on a house that I sold?

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What to do if I’m being sued for non-disclosure of defects on a house that I sold?

I sold a house almost 2 years ago with full disclosure of repairs, receipts of work completed and an independent home inspection. Now the buyer is suing me saying that I painted over damage as to conceal it. Also, they filed in a different magisterial district then either one of us live in. How do I defend this? Also, do the buying or selling agents have any responsibility here?

Asked on November 21, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) The agents have no responsibility here: all disclosure responsibilities are on the seller/homeowner.
2) You defend yourself as a general matter by refuting the claim. Remember: he is the plailtiff (the one suing you), so the legal obligation to prove his case is on him, not you. He has to prove that there was damage which you logically must have been aware of, which was concealed from him, and that you failed to disclose it. If he can't prove those elements, he loses. And you can provide your own evidence to "help" him fail to prove his case--such as if you have anything showing that you did disclose this claimed damage. You can also testify that you were not aware of it (e.g. it predated your ownership), since if you did not know of it, you had no disclosure responsibilities.
3) If he is suing in district you don't live in and which does not include the house, the court likely does not have jurisdiction (power) over the case, since there would be an insufficient tie or connection to this court so as to confer jurisdiction. You could therefore likely get this case dismissed on a "motion to dismiss" (check court rules for how to make such  motion) for lack of jurisdiction...though be aware that a dismissal for lack of jurisdiction is a dismissal "without prejudice," which means that he could refile the case in, for example, the district including the home. So a dismissal for this reason is likely only a temporary reprieve.


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