Closing day is an exciting time for homebuyers, as it signifies the completion of a long and often arduous process. However, imagine the shock when the new owners arrive at their new property, only to discover that the seller is still occupying the house, seemingly unaware of the need to vacate. Such a scenario can be frustrating and distressing, leaving buyers wondering about their rights and the next steps to take. In this blog post, we will explore what you should do if you find yourself in a situation where the seller is still in the house after closing.


Understand Your Rights and Legal Recourse

If you encounter a situation where the seller remains in the property after the closing, it is important to understand your rights and legal recourse. The seller’s failure to vacate the house is considered a breach of contract. As a buyer, you have the option to pursue legal action against the seller for compensation and damages. This may include reimbursement for moving costs, storage fees, alternative accommodation expenses, and any other losses incurred due to the delay caused by the seller.


Unveiling the Power of Legal Advice and Purchase Agreement Review

To navigate through the complexities of the legal process, it is crucial to consult with a real estate lawyer who specializes in such matters. They will review your purchase agreement, assess the specific circumstances, and provide guidance on the best course of action. An experienced lawyer will help you understand your rights, assist in negotiations with the seller, and if necessary, represent you in court proceedings.

One issue that often arises in these situations is the ambiguity surrounding the terms “closing” and “possession” in the purchase agreement. Many standard real estate contracts use these terms interchangeably, leading to confusion about when the transaction is considered finalized. It is advisable to carefully review your purchase agreement to determine how these terms are defined and interpreted in your jurisdiction.


Include a Vacant Possession Clause

To avoid potential disputes and ensure a smoother closing process, it is prudent for buyers to include a clause in their purchase agreements that explicitly states the requirement for vacant possession at the time the transfer/deed is registered, and the seller receives the purchase funds. This clause leaves no room for ambiguity and clearly establishes the expectations of both parties.

Negotiate Temporary Accommodation and Withold Closing Funds

In some cases, it may be beneficial to negotiate temporary accommodation with the seller if their delay in moving out is due to legitimate reasons. This arrangement can provide a mutually agreeable solution while minimizing the buyer’s inconvenience. However, it is crucial to document this agreement in writing to protect both parties’ interests and clearly outline the duration of the temporary stay.

If the seller insists on remaining in the property beyond the closing date, you can explore the option of having your lawyer withhold the closing funds until the seller vacates the premises. This can serve as an incentive for the seller to adhere to the terms of the agreement and expedite their departure.



Encountering a situation where the seller remains in the house after closing can be an unexpected and frustrating experience for buyers. However, you can take the necessary steps to address the issue by understanding your rights, seeking legal advice, and carefully reviewing your purchase agreement. Remember, having clear and unambiguous terms in your purchase agreement is crucial, and consulting a real estate lawyer can provide valuable guidance in resolving such disputes. With the right approach and professional assistance, you can navigate this challenging situation and successfully transition into your new home.