What are a buyer’s legal rights to keys after closing?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are a buyer’s legal rights to keys after closing?

I am in the process of buying/closing/recording on a home. I funded 2 days ago and signed all the necessary paperwork on Friday. The deal records on Monday. We have signed a Seller In Possession form that allows the seller to stay in the house and pay us rent-back for the next month. However, the seller is refusing to provide us with keys to the home until they move out…is this legal? The SIP states nothing about keys, however, the residential purchase agreement states we will get a set of keys at closing/recording. Anyone have any knowledge on our legal rights as buyers/owners?

Asked on November 20, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

As the owner(s), you have a right to keys--not only does it evidently state so in the contract, but that is general principal of law: the owner of real estate has the right to access it, even when someone else is living there, for certain lawful purposes, like repairs, maintenance, in emergencies, etc. and therefore has the right to keys. The seller has no right to withhold keys from you: they can keep their own set while they are still living there, but must give a set to you.

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