Can a “tenant” be sued in the the state where the “landlord” lives if both they and the property in question are located in another state?

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Can a “tenant” be sued in the the state where the “landlord” lives if both they and the property in question are located in another state?

My aunt let me stay in a house that she owns, but was vacant in NY state. She gave me the house free of charge until I could get on my feet. Once this happened I moved out. I was only there for 3 months. This was 3 years ago and since she has sold the house. She has recently had a disagreement with my mother and decided to sue me in retaliation claiming I owe her 3 months rent. She filed in NJ but the house is in NY and I still live in NY. She also claims to have a signed lease but I never had one nor did I sign.

Asked on August 30, 2011 New York

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If your aunt is now a resident of NJ, she could file the lawsuit there.  A lawsuit can be filed where the plaintiff (aunt) lives or where the defendant lives (you live in NY) or where the claim arose (NY where the house is located).

When you are served with the summons and complaint (complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons) you will need to file an answer to the complaint with the court and serve a copy by mail on your aunt.  The answer to the complaint denies the allegations in the complaint.  At the end of the answer is the verification, attesting to the veracity of the statements in the answer.  You date and sign the verification under penalty of perjury.  At the law library, look for answer to complaint in the index of Pleading and Practice.  This will give you the general format for an answer to a complaint and examples of answers to complaints.  Attach a proof of service to your answer.  You can use a court form proof of service or you can write your own.  The proof of service verifies the date of mailing.

If you don't file your answer to the complaint within the number of days stated in the summons, you will lose by default.  The time period starts from the date you are served with the summons and complaint.  If you don't file your answer to the complaint with the court by that deadline, you will lose by default.  Your aunt will file a default judgment with the court.  If that happens, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default.  If the motion is granted, litigation continues and the case is back on track.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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