Specialist Property Lawyers
Moving Home – practical advice

Moving home doesn’t need to be a headache - it helps to be organised and prepared, so we have provided three guides to help you on your way:

Good things to know…

Your Moving Date
Before contracts are exchanged you’ll need to decide on a moving date (completion date) and agree this with everyone else linked to your move – i.e. the chain, discuss this with your estate agent, in the first instance. Consider avoiding Fridays and Bank Holidays when removal firms are in high demand and may charge more.

Removal Firms
A few weeks before the move start to think about getting estimates from a few removals companies – it is a good idea to get at least three estimates - ask friends or relatives who have moved recently for recommendations. Failing that, the British Association of Removers or the National Guild of Removers and Storers will be able to supply names of approved members in your area.

When each removal company pops round to visit your property point out anything that needs special care and attention such as antiques, computers or pictures. This is particularly true of pianos which require special preparation for a move. You should also advise your removal company of any parking or access restrictions at your new property – it will help them work out which lorry to send.

Don't automatically accept the cheapest estimate - you tend to get what you pay for! When comparing estimates, make sure you are comparing like with like - are packing materials, boxes, cartons and crates and VAT all included?

When you accept an estimate, insist that a written quotation is sent to you as soon as possible – it should include packing, loading and unloading, storage (if required), special handling for breakables and valuables and any other special requests, such as curtain hanging and cleaning.

Do not confirm a removal firm booking until you have exchanged contracts and the completion date is set.

How storage firms work
Storage companies will accept anything as long as it isn't perishable (food, plants, etc), flammable (noxious chemicals), illegal (drugs, cash waiting to be laundered) or alive (pets, unruly children). Expect to be charged for packing, delivery to and from your house, the amount of space required and the length of time items are to be stored. Insurance can be arranged through the storage firm or through your household insurance.

Make an inventory of everything in storage in case anything is missing when it is all delivered to your home.

You need to tell your insurer (or insurers if you have buildings and contents policies with separate firms) about your move well in advance. Remember - you take legal responsibility for the new property from the moment you exchange the contracts to purchase - don’t make the common mistake of assuming it’s the day of completion.

Freehold Purchase You will need to take out buildings insurance on your purchase property from the time contracts are exchanged. Talk to your current insurers they may include this additional cover, free, if you are looking to transfer the policy from one property to another.

Leasehold Purchase In most instances the Management Company will maintain buildings insurance on the whole property – confirm with your property lawyer that this is the case.

Have a Clear Out
Before the removal firm arrives, have a clear out – moving is a great opportunity to cleanse! Valuable items that are no longer needed can be auctioned or sold to a dealer. Other items can be donated to charity shops or recycled. Your local council may be able to arrange the removal of large items you no longer want. This service sometimes has a small charge.

Start packing the items that you do not use frequently, while your main focus will be on the house don’t forget the garden, garage, shed, attic and other obscure places that are easily forgotten. It can be tempting to pack as much into a box as possible, but lots of smaller boxes are easier and safer to move about than a few heavy ones.

Let your neighbours know your moving day in advance so they can expect the removal van temporarily in the area. They may even offer to park their car elsewhere to allow the van some extra room to manoeuvre. Similarly, if there are parking restrictions outside your property, you may need to make arrangements to allow the removers to set up.

Moving Schools
If your children are moving schools, inform the existing one in writing of the final date they will be attending. Call the new school to confirm the start date.

A kind gesture
Compile a fact file for the people who are moving into your property, such as instruction leaflets and service information for the heating system and appliances you're leaving, together with details of rubbish/recycling collection and so on.

Other Considerations • Round up all the keys to your home, including those left with neighbours, nannies and relatives and give them to your estate agent.
• Get someone to look after the children on the moving day. The same goes for pets - or book them into kennels or a cattery.
• On the day of completion you will need to be out of your house by 1pm so before considering moving yourself bear this in mind.

Who to tell you're moving…

• Telephone, mobile, cable/satellite and internet service providers
• Utility companies – gas, electricity and water
• TV Licensing - your TV licence doesn't automatically move with you when you move house.
• Bank, building society, pension provider and any company you have loans or investments with
• Insurance companies – buildings and contents - remember you need to insure your new property from exchange of contracts.
• Car insurance and breakdown company
• The Electoral Commission.
• DVLA - it is a legal requirement to notify DVLA and renew your driving licence and vehicle registration document.
• Life insurance/assurance companies
• Health insurer
• Credit card and store card companies – including loyalty card companies
• HM Revenue & Customs
• Local council re: council tax
• Doctor/dentist/optician
• Vet
• Employers
• The schools your children attend
• Royal Mail - set up your post to be redirected
• Subscriptions/publications/charities
• Gym/sports clubs/social groups
• Milk/other deliveries
• Library
• Friends, family and colleagues

Start working through these key contacts as soon as possible - make a note of account numbers and contact details, then when you know your moving day you have everything to hand.

Moving day has arrived…

Existing Property

• Meet the removers and give them a quick tour of the property.
• Swap mobile telephone contact numbers with the removers.
• Check the removers know where they are going and have directions.
• Explain what is to go and what is to stay. Label the items staying to avoid confusion.
• If there is anything that requires extra care, point this out at the start.
• Do a final check when the van is loaded to ensure everything has been taken.
• Check all windows and doors are locked and meter readings have been taken - gas, electricity and water.

On the day of completion you need to be out of your existing property by 1pm, but you won't be able to move into your new place until the agent has been informed by your sellers solicitors that they have received your purchase monies and that the keys can be released.

In a chain of transactions the money is transferred electronically between the legal firms’ bank accounts, each one triggering the next transfer - lenders, lawyers and agents are all geared up for your transaction but always bear in mind that a chain of transactions will take time to process, so please be patient.

The New Property • Give the removers another quick tour so they know what rooms to put your items in.
• Label each room so the removers know which room is which, especially bedrooms.
• Take meter readings – gas, electricity and water.
• When the van is unloaded, ensure nothing has been left behind.

It has been a long and tiring day so get the beds ready as a priority, then collapse on the sofa, order a takeaway and crack open a bottle of champagne or put the kettle on! Everything else can wait until tomorrow…