Is it illegal to collect money from someone for a home that you do not hold the title to?

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Is it illegal to collect money from someone for a home that you do not hold the title to?

Under the assumption we were purchasing a home over the last 10 years my family has been paying a lady and her husband for a home. The lady selling the home drew up her own “contract” about 6 months into us paying which stated the bare minimum,such as after paying a particular amount we would be done in ten years. Now, 10 years to the date that we started paying, the amount asked for has been fulfilled and now she wants us to continue paying for another 6 months. We found out she did not hold the title to the home until a year ago.

Asked on August 28, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is illegal to "sell" something which one does not own. If she did not own the home when she started to "sell" it to you, the contract was void and you could recover your money from her. She also would have committed fraud, by misrepresenting (lying about) a material (important or critical) fact to get you to enter into the transaction--and fraud also provides grounds to recover monetary compensation You should consult with an attorney about the situation--from what you write, you likely have a substantial legal claim.


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