I was living in a duplex in the 06/2007 when the property started receiving foreclosure notices and letters from the ccp, everytime we called the landlord she said nothing was going on & to ignore the notices. in 08/2009 we found out that the property had in fact been foreclosed on and we were forced to move out or have an enviction on our records. the landlord continue to text and ask for rent until i informed her that the sheriff's office and the county r.e.o. informed us not to pay anymore rent she no longer owned the property. i have moved back home with my parents but i want to know at this point is it too late to sue to get at least our security deposit back, I still have ALL paper and receipts concerning the ap.? and if not what is the likihood of getting anything from the lawsuit
Real Estate Attorney
First let me say how sorry I am that this happened to you. I am seeing a lot of this given the unstable real estate market in Pennsylvania and across the country. In Pennsylvania, like most states, there are different statute of limitations (the time you have to bring a lawsuit) depending on the kind of lawsuit you want to bring. You are asking about the time to sue for various breaches by the landlord of your Philadelphia Pennsylvania residential lease. Generally speaking, if your landlord failed to disclose that she was in foreclosure at the time you signed the lease, I think you could make out a case against her for fraud. If the foreclosure was filed after you signed the lease, I would need to know more facts in order to make that determination. The statute for fraud is two years. The failure to return your security deposit would be a breach of contract and the most likely contractual statute of limitations that would apply would be the four year statute. Next, you need to decide when each of the statutes began to run, and if you are in time to sue. There are not enough facts presented to be able to calculate your time frames for you. There is also a statute that regulates the return of security deposits in Pennsylvania. Under the Pennsylvania security deposit law you can collect double the amount of the security held because the landlord did not timely return your deposit. You may also have a lawsuit under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, and if you are successful there is a provision for the award of attorneys fees. I recommend that you sit down with a lawyer as soon as possible who will hear your story and be able to help you sort through your facts and the laws that apply. To answer your practical question about whether you will collect damages, that will depend on if the landlord has assets to pursue. It would be important to know how the property was titled because that will be a factor in assessing whether there is any money to collect. You could consult with real estate lawyer, a landlord tenant lawyer or a trial lawyer who specializes in commercial or real estate litigation. This post is for general information purposes, is not legal advice and there is no attorney-client relationship.