One of the key queries we’ve had from both potential buyers/sellers, and also from our existing clients in the midst of the property purchasing process, is how on earth can they actually move house safely during the coronavirus pandemic? We’ve had clients all up-to-date with paperwork, ready for exchange, but wondering how to actually get going. Here, we give you some tips and advice if you find yourself in that position…
MOVING HOUSE DURING COVID-19
With the housing market now tentatively re-opening, people are also now feeling able to start to move in and out of properties, with many people requiring removal services. We believe that whilst there are no strict guidelines when it comes to being able to move house safely during the coronavirus pandemic at the moment, most reputable local removals companies have put their own safety measures in place to protect both their removals team and their clients.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM YOUR REMOVALS COMPANY DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC?
The actions taken by each removals company may vary from company to company, but in general they should all follow roughly the same agenda. Understandably some removals firms may not be operating at the moment, or may be offering a reduced service due to staff shortages etc, so it’s important to contact them and get them booked in ASAP.
Before a quote is provided, removals companies generally need to assess the size and number of items you have to move. This initial consultation is now occurring quite often via video calling, and during the call removals firms may also ask about the current health of family members involved in the move. If the consultation cannot be held via video chat, then the removals team and homeowners will need to respect social distancing guidelines and follow similar guidance to that for house viewings, with all windows and doors open where possible, PPE worn and access to handwashing facilities available.
To avoid unnecessary touchpoints, our government has advised that households try to pack as many of their belongings themselves (probably ruling out packing services that are usually available from removals firms) and that they should clean them with disinfectant if they’re are to be handled by others. If you can’t pack your own belongings, or there are certain items that you cannot pack, you should discuss these with the removals firm well in advance.
ON MOVING DAY
As mentioned previously, the government has advised homeowners to follow similar social distancing practices to those for house viewings. To protect everyone, most removals companies are also operating using some degree of personal protective equipment (PPE). At a minimum, this should include a mask and gloves. Removal persons should also be given access to handwashing facilities should they need them, and to reduce the likelihood of homeowners and removals people coming into direct contact with one another, some companies may politely ask for the homeowners to vacate the property or stay in another room. The government has also advised that no refreshments should be given or accepted on moving days, so the usually appreciated cups of tea/coffee aren’t allowed sadly!
Once you have keys to your new property, removals companies will probably ask you to confirm where you would like everything placed within it beforehand (use of a floorplan is good here), so they can do this without you actually being in the building. The final paperwork for the moving job will then be left in a secure location, and if anything needs signing it should be done so using your own pen.
CLEANING YOUR NEW PROPERTY
To make your new home safe once you’re in, it’s wise to give it a thorough clean to disinfect any surfaces. You should focus on cleaning all door handles, cupboard handles, kitchen counters, bannisters and light switches, as well as the usual floors, windows and other surfaces. And don’t forget your new key! Keys are known germ carriers, so when you are picking up your new keys be sure to disinfect them with spray and to wash your hands well afterwards. Although no one should be moving home if they have confirmed symptoms of COVID-19, it’s better to be safe than sorry. When unpacking your belongings, it may also be wise to re-disinfect any belongings handled by the removal agency, and to dispose of boxes too.
WHEN NOT TO MOVE
People who are vulnerable or shielding should weigh up the risk of moving house during the pandemic, and where possible have been advised to postpone their move until it is safer for them to do so. People who are isolating or who have symptoms of the coronavirus should NEVER do any of the following: attending any viewings, having buyers view their property, meet with estate agents or even go through with moving day, no matter how inconvenient it is. Your agent i.e. us or your solicitor will be able to advise further if this is the case. You must delay your move to a date where all members of your household have come to the end of their isolation period.