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A dwelling is considered to be your main residence from the time you acquired your ownership interest in it if you moved into it as soon as practicable after that time. If you purchased the dwelling, this would generally be the date of settlement of the purchase contract. However, if there is a delay in moving in because of illness or other unforeseen circumstances, the exemption may still be available from the time you acquired your ownership interest in the dwelling.
If you could not move in because the dwelling was being rented to someone, you are not considered to have moved in as soon as practicable after you acquired your ownership interest.
As mentioned earlier, there is a special rule that allows you to treat more than one dwelling as your main residence for a limited time if you are changing main residences (see Moving from one main residence to another).
Example 64: Moving in as soon as practicable
Mary signs a contract to buy a townhouse on 1 March 2013. She is to take possession when settlement occurs on 30 April 2013.
On 11 March 2013, Mary is directed by her employer to go overseas on an assignment for four months, leaving on 25 March 2013. Mary moves into the townhouse on her return to Australia in late July 2013.
Mary’s overseas assignment was unforeseen at the time of purchasing the property. As she moved in as soon as practicable after settlement of the contract occurred, Mary can treat the townhouse as her main residence from the date of settlement until she moved in.
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