POSSESSION: why you should never hand over the house keys BEFORE completion

Raymundo LarraĆ­n Nesbitt, August, 21. 2020

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This blog post is the first of a two-part series dealing on possession. The second part is: POSSESSION: why you should never allow a seller to remain inthe house AFTER completion - 1st September 2020


By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Lawyer - Abogado
21st of August 2020

Congratulations, you have found a buyer for your Spanish property!

You should now instruct a lawyer to represent you in the sale, particularly if you are non-resident in Spain.

It is an exciting moment for sellers who are giddy after having waited for months to sell. However, some devious buyers take advantage of seller’s good faith at this moment of weakness requesting the house keys ahead of completion at the Notary. These buyers have only paid a small deposit (normally 10%), giving you all sort of plausible reasons to access the property before paying the balance.

The excuses given are all assorted (preferably tear-shedding ones that build rapport appealing to lofty values, which always work best on gentle souls):

  • “I am a single parent with young children. I need time to complete the move all by my own” (You care for young children, yes?).
  • “I only need a couple of days to move my stuff in, you can trust me, I’m best friends with so and so, you know him/her” (You can trust a friend-of-a-friend).
  • “I start a new job on Monday, I can only make the move this weekend” (I’m all stressed out, have pity on me)
  • "I have just sold my property to finance this purchase and I need to move in ugently all my stuff into yours." (You are not going to leave me homeless on the street until completion are you?)
  • Other.


The fact is that when you hand over your keys to someone, you are handing them possession over your property.

This has serious legal repercussions. It awards them an array of legal rights that basically shuts you out of your own home. In order to regain access, you will have to go through a law court.

But what’s worse, they have only paid you, in so far, a fraction of the sales price (10%); they never completed at the Notary! It could take several years of protracted litigation to have them physically evicted by bailiffs from your property. In the meantime, you’ve spent a lot of money in lawyers and legal proceedings, lost countless opportunities to sell to other legitimate buyers and your place has probably been trashed by your would-be buyer. Let alone all the stress and aggravation this has brought you and your partner.

It all boils down to possession.

Pro-tip: you are advised to NEVER hand over the keys to your property before you sign on the dotted line of a sales deed witnessed by a Spanish notary and are handed a big fat banker’s draft for the full sale price. Ever.

You are welcome.

Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Scottish expression.


At LNA we assist you buying, selling, or renting for a very competitive fee.

Larraín Nesbitt Abogados, small on fees, BIG on service.

Larraín Nesbitt Abogados is a law firm specialized in residency, taxation, conveyancing, inheritance, residency and litigation. We will be very pleased to discuss your matter with you. You can contact us by e-mail at info@larrainnesbitt.com, by telephone on (+34) 952 19 22 88 or by completing our contact form.

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Article originally published at IDEALISTA: Possession: why you should never hand over your house keys before completion

Please note the information provided in this article is of general interest only and is not to be construed or intended as substitute for professional legal advice. This article may be posted freely in websites or other social media so long as the author is duly credited. Plagiarizing, whether in whole or in part, this article without crediting the author may result in criminal prosecution. VOV.

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