Let’s be honest here: moving house is a massive ballache. Not only is the act itself stressful with all of the heavy lifting, pushing sofas around narrow corners and absent moving men, but there’s also the agent to deal with. If you’re renting, the prospect of changing property is a daunting one; who has the money to pay all the extra fees, and the time to deep-clean the place you’re leaving? Plus there’s the chaos you end up living in for a few weeks either side.
Luckily, the excitement of a new house can usually focus my attention on more positive things like planning where I’d put the KitchenAid that I don’t own yet, which shower curtain to buy to brighten up the bathroom and which cupboard is going to contain my many baking tins. For everything else, I’ve got some useful tips to make the whole process a little easier on the stress levels.
Letting agents and private landlords
Most letting agents I’ve come across have tried to take my money at every opportunity. Non-refundable holding fees, admin fees for re-signing leases, rent increases, checking out fees, admin fees for taking money out of your deposit… the list is endless. If you end up with a sneaky so-and-so, make sure you read the contract very thoroughly. If you’re not happy with how you’re treated by them to begin with, steer clear – you may love the house, but it might not be worth the hassle of dealing with rude agents who charge you for the privilege of receiving a letter from them.
Make sure your agent makes you feel comfortable and deals with you professionally. We’re letting our new flat from a small, family-run business who’ve been extremely helpful and friendly, and it’s made all the difference.
If you decide to rent privately to avoid agent fees, the same rules apply – make sure you’re comfortable with the landlord, and read the contract. A previous landlord I rented from wanted the rent in cash (can you say tax avoidance?) which we agreed to, but later regretted as cash withdrawal limits made it a pain in the ass every month.
When viewing a property, there are a few questions you might want to have ready to ask:
- Kitchen appliances – are they included? They might belong to the current tenant.
- Is the move-in date negotiable?
- Are pets allowed?
- How much deposit/rent do you have to give upfront and what are the fees?
- How long is the lease? If it’s short, can you renew for longer after that period, and does it cost to renew?
Have a cheeky check of the water pressure if you can, too – a weak, drippy shower can be a dealbreaker!
Preparing to move
You’ve found an awesome flat, you’ve got your move-in date and you’ve paid your deposit. What’s next? A list of course!
That there list is currently taped up in my living room and is going to be my bible for the next month. There’s a lot to think about so it’s worth writing it all down. Firstly – who do you need to tell that you’re moving? Sometimes you can do this online, and in advance – HSBC online banking will let you set a date for your new address, for example. Make sure you set up your post redirection in advance too, as this takes five working days to get up and running. Let your utility suppliers know that you’re leaving and ask for the final bill. Some agents will ask to see proof that you’ve paid this before you get your deposit back. Broadband suppliers take forever to set up internet so get that sorted as soon as you can, too.
Next – cleaning your current flat. Obviously you want to get as much of your deposit back as possible, so it’s worth getting started on this fairly early on so that it’s not a slog on your last day when you’d rather be unpacking your teapots in the new house. A Thrifty Mrs has some brilliant, cheap tips for house-cleaning and her blog has been permanently open on my computer for the last week. My boyfriend is currently having a love affair with five different bikes and we (he) need to do some serious wall-cleaning before we move.
Packing – it’s common sense, but label your boxes with what room they’re going in to, make sure they’re not too heavy, and cover everything delicate in mountains of bubble wrap/scarves. Sorted!
I’m all for doing things myself, but having moved into three top floor flats in two years I’m going to be hiring me a man and a van. For the cost of a night out I can hire a muscly man for a couple of hours and I get to spend my day unpacking my things in to their new places and not getting hot, sweaty, irritable and shouty. Having asked around I’ve had three guys recommended to me but Gumtree is teeming with people looking for some extra cash in return for some van use. Just make sure they’re insured, and that they’ll definitely help lift things – some people will charge extra for lifting and/or stairs.
One last tip – pack a box with loo roll, the kettle and various tea-making implements so you can enjoy a cuppa as soon as you’re in, and y’know… go for a wee.