If you have bought a home or any other property, settlement or conveyancing is that time when the contracts have been exchanged and a date set for when you can move in. This is usually 42 days after the contracts have been signed, but it can vary, depending on the circumstances. For instance, if the property is vacant, the seller may agree that you can move in sooner.

Or in some cases the settlement date may not be convenient to you for some reason. In this case, you need to discuss the matter with your solicitor/conveyancer on the day you sign the contract. Once the contracts are exchanged, it is too late to change the date of settlement. However, most contracts have a clause stating that if there is a delay in settlement that is not the seller’s fault, you will have to pay interest as compensation for them not getting their money.

Settlement is the day when the money for the home is transferred to the seller.  This is usually handled by the solicitor or conveyancer on your behalf and you don’t have to be present. However, you do have to ensure that they have all the documents they need. They will let you know what these are.  If you have purchased the property with a loan, the lender keeps the title deeds to the property until you have fully repaid the loan.

The lender must also register your name as new owner of the property at the Land Titles Office. This will usually be done shortly after the settlement date.

Unless you have a private agreement with the seller, you won’t be able to move into your new home until settlement has occurred. The date and time of the settlement will be set by the solicitor. In fact, if you are waiting to move in and need to book a removalist, it is not a good idea to book them for the exact time of settlement in case there is a delay of some kind. Book them for the day after, otherwise you will have to pay for any time they spend sitting waiting for permission to unload.

If you’ve bought an investment property that is rented out, you will become the tenant’s landlord as soon as settlement has been finalised. However, you will be bound by the lease they already have.  If the rent has been paid in advance, the part that is legally yours will be reflected in the settlement figures. However, if the tenant owes rental to the previous landlord, this debt will not be passed on to you.

As soon as settlement has occurred, you will receive notice from your solicitor and he will also advise the estate agent, authorising them to give you the keys to the property. You can then move in!