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Jack Swaisgood and Nancy Nolf
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Legal Question of the Week


*** Of Special Interest ***  Answers provided by Annie Fitzsimmons, the Washington REALTORS Legal Hotline Lawyer

Question of the Week  3-8-22

I know that it could be really expensive and time-consuming for a buyer to remove a seller from the property, if buyer allows seller to remain in possession of the property after closing. Is there any lease language that should now be included given the new "just cause" requirement?  In your opinion, if Buyer wants to allow Seller to retain possession because Buyer wants to make a competitive offer, what is the best way to protect buyer.


There is no contractual way to guarantee buyers that sellers will actually vacate the property, post-closing, when a seller's post-closing occupancy right expires The only way for buyer to ensure that seller will release possession timely is if seller releases possession at closing and buyer can verify seller's vacancy of the property at or before closing. If a seller is granted the right to live in buyer's home, after closing, seller becomes buyer's tenant, subject to all the protections of the Washington Residential Landlord Tenant Act, including the provisions related to "Just Cause". There is nothing that can be added to an occupancy agreement that will change this statutory outcome.

If a buyer wishes to allow seller post-closing possession of buyer's home, buyer needs to understand the risks involve. And buyer is well advised to seek legal counsel before extending a post-closing possessory right to seller.

Do you have a question?  We cannot give you legal advice, but we do have quite an archive of legal opinions that we would share.  Call Jack at (425) 422-2267.

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