Moving home can be a stressful experience; there’s no doubt about it. Some studies even say it’s up there with divorce, and that’s without a global pandemic thrown in.
While it’s no easy task to move home with COVID-19 restrictions in place, some trusty advice on your side will help ease the process.
So, let HomeHero guide you throughout the entire journey — from start to finish. Don’t worry; we’ve got this!
WHEN? WELL IN ADVANCE
Tenants are free to move home. But if there’s anything the pandemic has shown us, it’s that things can change. Fast. So, it’s a great idea to plan for all potentialities.
It’s important to expect delays. Almost anticipate them. If any party shows symptoms for COVID-19, they’ll need to self-isolate for 2-weeks.
Keep this in mind, and you’ll be able to adapt to any spanner that gets thrown in the works. Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty.
The process of searching for and moving home is a little different. For example, virtual viewings should be done wherever possible.
VIEWINGS FOR YOUR PROPERTY
Your landlord or letting agent will assist with this. They’ll gather up all the necessary images of your home and compile an interactive viewing for the next potential tenants.
They may also want access to your property to conduct a virtual, face-to-face viewing via their smartphone or tablet. But don’t fret — your safety is the priority!
Anyone that accesses your property will have to wear masks, wash their hands and abide by social distancing measures at all times.
If your landlord schedules an in-person viewing at your property, the government advises that you vacate it. This will help to minimise any unnecessary contact with others.
Open-houses are also not allowed — only single viewings that have been pre-booked with the letting agent.
Viewing a potential property
When virtually viewing another property, you’ll want to make sure you make the most out of it.
So, take your time! If it’s a serious contender, examine the property in detail.
And we know it’s awkward, but don’t be afraid to ask whoever’s holding the camera to be your extra pair of eyes.
Think you can see damp damage on the wall? Ask to inspect it. Want to look at the bathroom facilities again? Request a closer look.
These are all things you’d be doing yourself to filter out properties, so it’s worth being thorough. After all, it’ll help to save everyone’s time!
It’s also handy to prepare questions beforehand. If you’re speaking with the landlord or current tenant, gather as much information as you can about the property and local amenities.
And if you’d like to double-check things, schedule a second viewing — you don’t have to take everything in at once.
Once you’ve found the perfect place, make sure you promptly register your interest with the agent.
Just because things have been delayed due to lockdown, it doesn’t mean you need to wait until restrictions ease to say you’re interested. Get in there and beat the competition!
So, you’ve found and secured your next home to rent. The next step is to grab your tenancy agreement and any attachments to it — including renewals.
Doing this will help you determine how to end your tenancy and what correct procedure to use. It’s always good to do things by the book!
Next, you’ll want to inform your current landlord that you’ll be ending the tenancy. Once that’s out in the open, you’ll want to notify all your relevant providers that you’ll be changing address.
The providers you’ll need to inform are:
- Your letting agent
- The current local council
- The new local council
- Your gas, electricity and water supplier
- Your landline, phone and broadband provider
- TV Licensing
- Any subscriptions registered to your current address, such as Netflix
- Post offices
It’s worth noting that if your finances waver during the moving process for whatever reason, your providers can help.
When the crisis began, the government and energy suppliers launched an emergency package to help people facing financial difficulties.
And from 15 December 2020, energy regulator Ofgem set out new rules to energy suppliers to further assist those in need.
They are formally required to offer emergency credit to customers who can’t top up their prepayment meters.
Once a customer can reimburse, energy suppliers should issue ‘realistic and sustainable’ repayment plans.
So, you’ve notified all your relevant providers. Now it’s time to inform:
- Your employer
- HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
- Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
- Your GP, dentist, opticians or veterinarians
- Bank/Credit Card provider
Again, expect delays! Every company/organisation will have a different process on how to cancel or transfer subscriptions to a new address. It’s better to get the ball rolling sooner, rather than later.
At this point, it’s useful to check back in with your new and current landlord to confirm the moving dates.
You’ll want to schedule a final inspection with your current landlord well in advance, as it will give you time to:
- Start looking for reliable tradespeople.
Doing this will help fix any minor damages that your landlord will most likely deduct from your deposit. (This may be cheaper!)
Once a tradesperson is in your home, be sure to adhere to social distancing measures. Open up doors and windows for a fresh air flow, and ensure all parties are wearing a mask. After that, you may want to:
- Search for end of tenancy cleaning companies.
Ensuring your property is thoroughly cleaned is a huge priority, so you may want to consider getting a professional in.
But remember, after the Tenant Fees Act 2019, it’s now illegal for landlords to charge tenants with professional cleaning services!
Once you’ve sorted that, you may want to:
- Liaise with removal companies.
It’s worth noting that you and those in your household should try and do most packing yourself during lockdown restrictions.
But where this is not possible, contacting removal firms is your best option. However, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be available at the time you require, so it’s best to reach out in advance.
Companies can usually do virtual, online or phone consultations for you to get a quote.
It’s a great idea to ask friends for any referrals or better yet — see if they have a large car or van you can use. Next, it’s handy to:
- Book hotels, hostels or other public accommodation.
Doing this will help facilitate the move — especially if you won’t be able to return to your main residence. (It’s completely legal to do this!)
Again, there’s no guarantee that public accommodation will be open for business at the time of your move. You might also have to self-isolate.
So, book in advance and be sure to pay that little bit extra for refundable rooms. You’ll thank yourself in the end!
You can also use second homes or other private accommodation to facilitate moves, but you must still ensure you stay within your household or support bubble.
Now it’s time to start clearing out your belongings. If you’re a hoarder, this may be the hardest bit — but don’t fret, we’ve got some tips to help!
We find it’s best to tackle this on a room-by-room basis, preferably beginning with the room you don’t use the most.
All your junk, broken items, old clothes or damaged shoes can go first — but be sure to recycle where possible.
Since charity shops are temporarily closed, donation banks are your best (covid-safe) bet. Just take to Google, and you’ll be able to find some in your local area.
Here, you can donate any clothes and shoes that are in good condition. Beyond clothing, some banks also accept books, games and other household items — but check first before you tip!
You can also consider throwing out anything you haven’t used in the past year or two.
That old armchair collecting dust? Donate. The blender you thought you’d use, but didn’t? Give to a friend.
Doing this will help make the moving day smooth and straightforward. But remember to disinfect any items before you hand them over.
While you’re here, you may want to order storage boxes for the big day. If you’re using a removal firm, clean your belongings with standard domestic products before others handle them.
Speaking of disinfecting, now it’s time to pack up and clean up. If you’re planning on deep cleaning the property yourself, you’ll need at least a couple of days — especially as your deposit depends on it.
So, book time off work, stock up on all the supplies you’ll need and get cracking; one room at a time.
Don’t forget to clean appliances such as ovens, showerheads and washing machines, as your landlord will scrutinise these during check out.
Then, grab your pre-bought storage boxes or better yet, suitcases or plastic tubs and start packing!
Focus on the things you don’t regularly use, such as any miscellaneous and non-breakable items, and store them away in a suitable place.
As moving day approaches, start packing everything you’ll be able to survive without for two days. This may be:
- Your cooking utensils, cutlery and dishware
- Most of your clothes, shoes and accessories
- Electrical appliances, such as lights and toasters
The night before move-in day, you can pack an overnight bag with all your essentials.
It’s time. It’s finally moving day.
If you’ve followed all our steps up until this point, then this part should be relatively straightforward. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Eat a hearty breakfast. You’re going to need it!
- Pack up the final bits, disinfect them and pile all your boxes in the hallway or street, ready for collection.
- Open up your windows to ensure sufficient airflow.
- Take the final meter readings for the gas, electricity and water.
- Unplug all the appliances and shut the windows (once the house is empty!)
- Do a quick, final clean of the property. Disinfect the door handles, tables and any other high touch surfaces.
- Photograph all the questionable areas of the property that may end up in a dispute.
Once you’ve arrived at your new property, you can also take your own photographs to document its pre-moving condition — as this will come in handy for later on.
Before you settle into your new home, there are a few things you’ll want to tick off first.
Firstly, make sure you attend the final inspection you scheduled with your old landlord. Here, you can also return the keys and be on hand to explain any damages or deterioration.
Double-check how they’re going to approach this. Remember to wash your hands, wear a mask and keep to social distancing measures if it’s in-person.
You’ll then want to send a written notice, preferably by email, to your old landlord requesting the return of your deposit.
In the same breath, you can remind your new landlord about protecting your deposit and providing you with the relevant safety certificates.
And there you have it — HomeHero’s Guide to Moving Home during COVID-19.
There’s a lot to remember, but if you plan, mask up, maintain hygiene and make space, the pandemic shouldn’t make move-in day disastrous!
Are we missing anything? Oh yeah, congratulations on moving home!