One of the most challenging things people experience when buying a new home is juggling the handover dates to suit everyone in the property chain. You need to vacate your current home by a certain date so the new residents can move, and you need the people in the home you just purchased to clear out so that you can take their place in your new home.

What is a possession date?

In any real estate contract, the possession date is the day that you and the seller agree they will vacate the property you’ve just purchased. A good agreement should have a clause stipulating the penalties the previous owners must pay if they overstay that date.

What should I do if someone does not meet the possession date?

Sometimes a bit of flexibility can go a long way. There are many reasons why someone may be unable to move on the agreed date, many of which are unavoidable. If you’re willing to negotiate to give them a little extra time, that may help resolve your problems a little more easily.

However, sometimes delays are not possible without extra problems and expenses for you. Having to put things in storage because your new home is not ready will be expensive, take up your time and require you to pay the movers twice. In exchange, you should be fairly compensated. 

If you do encounter problems enforcing a move-in date, seek legal advice. You may be able to find an agreement whereby the seller compensates you for the extra costs you incur. An attorney can also apply the necessary pressure if the seller appears to have no intention of vacating the property promptly and handing you the keys on time.