Conveyancing Process: Property Searches

When buying a house, you’re faced with endless hoops to jump through that you never knew existed. The conveyancing process can seem far too complicated, daunting and expensive. And you wouldn’t be human if the thought hadn’t crossed your mind: is it all really necessary?

Conveyancing refers to the end-to-end process of sealing the deal on your new house, from putting in your offer to exchanging contracts. But perhaps the most important – and little understood – aspect of the conveyancing process are the property searches.

This quick overview outlines some of the commoner conveyancing searches and should help you understand their importance. After all, your home purchase could be the biggest investment you ever make, so it pays to play it safe.

What are conveyancing searches?

Unless you’ve worked in the property world, it’s unlikely you’ve come across conveyancing searches before (also called property searches). The good news though is that they are a lot less complex than they sound.

In layman’s terms, conveyancing searches are inquiries made by your solicitor or conveyancer to find out more information about the property you’re about to purchase. These inquiries are made with local authorities and other third parties depending on the circumstances.

The conveyancing process covers all legal aspects of buying a home. However, conveyancing searches are distinct from surveys on the physical state of the property like the Homebuyer’s Report and Building Survey. Setting these up is your responsibility alone, not your conveyancer’s.

Are conveyancing searches compulsory?

Conveyancing searches are generally required by mortgage lenders. So, unless you’re a cash buyer, they are a necessary part of the conveyancing process. It is unlikely that your mortgage application will be accepted without evidence of a conveyancing search having taken place. And without a mortgage offer in place, you cannot proceed to purchase.

If you’re a cash buyer, you are not beholden to a lender and therefore can request that your solicitor not bother with the searches. But be warned: this is risky given that these searches could uncover legal issues that affect the property.

Remember that, whether you’re a cash buyer or not, buying a property is a huge investment. You must be confident that there’s nothing that will prevent you living as you plan at the property. It’s tempting to save as much as possible during the buying process, but there can be repercussions down the line. Conveyancing searches are a small price to pay to avoid this.

What are conveyancers looking for?

Conveyancers look for a number of issues that might impact the suitability of the property you’re looking to purchase, or otherwise affect its value.

As the buyer, you will want to know about planning permission for future developments that would impact your property, about the quality of the ground on which it is built, about any issues affecting drainage and about possible access rights (like Public Right of Way). The relevant property searches, with the relevant authorities, will reveal all!

Unfortunately, there’s no set time for how long these searches can take. There are over 340 local authorities in the UK and turnaround times vary significantly, from 48 hours to several weeks. In particular, the Land Charges Department is likely to be a small team, meaning that during busy periods of the year it may take longer for them to return your results.

The methods used for searches can differ greatly too, with some authorities issuing results via an online portal, while others send them out via post.

The “Big Four” Conveyancing Searches

The typical conveyancing process features four main property searches. These are: Local Authority Search (LAS), Water and Drainage Search, Environmental Search and Chancel Repair Search.

1. Local Authority Search (LAS)

The Local Authority Search (LAS) provides you with information regarding your property and the surrounding neighbourhood. This search gives you peace of mind regarding the property and stops any nasty surprises emerging once you’ve moved in.

The LAS is divided into two key parts: LLC1 result and CON29 result. The LLC1 result tells you whether your property is:

  • a listed building
  • situated in a conservation area, a tree-preservation area or a smoke-controlled area
  • in need of an improvement or renovation grant.

The CON29 results reveal:

  • proposals for new roads
  • contaminated land
  • planning decisions that will affect your property
  • building regulations
  • whether your property is in a radon-affected area.
  • further, optional inquiries may be undertaken as well and submitted independently (as a CON29O form)

There are two different types of LAS, Personal and Official. The personal search is carried out by highly skilled agents that visit the local authority to examine their records. The official search is conducted by local authority staff and doesn’t involve private agents.  Most of the time, mortgage lenders will require a personal search – which tends to be cheaper and quicker to complete than an official search.

Any planning permissions that might affect your property and are submitted after the date of your LAS will not be covered by the search. If you have any additional questions on public rights of way, areas of outstanding beauty, pipeline & pollution notices or village greens, please ask your solicitor to make further inquiries on your behalf.

2. Water and Drainage Searches

The second search to be carried out will be the Water and Drainage searches, CON29DW and Regulated:

  • CON29DW Search: this confirms whether the property is connected to a public water supply and sewer. It will also look at whether the property is affected by water mains, how far it is from wastewater treatment works and how the property is currently being charged for its water usage.
  • Regulated Search: this looks at similar issues to the CON29DW search. However it doesn’t include the current basis for water charges or the water meter location. But, if time is of the essence, this search can be completed more quickly than the CON29DW.

These searches – which can be both residential and commercial – ensure that the property is safe from flooding, leaking and damp caused by public waterways and drains.

Much like the LAS, you can have both a personal and an official Water and Drainage search. The personal search, conducted by a local specialist for a fixed fee, is more cost-effective. However, it should be noted that, with an official search, the homebuyer is fully guaranteed by the issuing water authority should something go wrong.

3. Environmental Search

As the name suggests, the Environmental Search examines the environment surrounding the property. Specifically, it examines whether the property is susceptible to flooding, landslides or contamination.

Contaminated land refers to presence of harmful substances about, or near, the property. If, for example, it was built on ex-industrial ground, there may be toxic chemicals such as lead, arsenic, mercury and other metals still in the earth. These metals can be a potential hazard to the occupiers of the property, especially young children, as well as wildlife.

If you’re buying a new build, it’s likely your developer has carried out investigations into the soil before building. If any contamination had been revealed at this stage, remedial works would have been carried out. However, this has not always been the case. There have been many instances of homes being built on land found to be contaminated. When this happens, homeowners face a long period of uncertainty, and the question of who pays for the remedial works becomes a major point of contention.

While environmental searches are detailed – and a time-honoured part of the conveyancing process – conveyancers cannot comment on the information it turns up. All they will do is provide a copy of the environmental report and advise whether the land is currently contaminated and therefore unsuitable for lending purposes.

If the land has been flagged as potentially contaminated, this needn’t be an insurmountable obstacle to purchase, however. It is possible to obtain Contaminated Land Indemnity Insurance to protect you against the cost of remediation should the land indeed prove to be contaminated.

4. Chancel Repair Search

The standard conveyancing process wouldn’t be complete without the mysteriously entitled Chancel Repair Search.

The origins of this search are shrouded in the mists of time, back in the the 4th century. Unsurprisingly, this one can leave buyers a bit confused… In short, it checks whether you’re liable to pay for the maintenance of your local church. As you can imagine, the repair bills for buildings of this nature and age can be extremely high, as this unfortunate couple found out.

Despite appearing an anachronism, courts have recently upheld churches’ right to enforce payment of chancel repair from affected homes. Even if your property is situated some distance from the church, you have no connection to the church and you are not even religious, if your property is subject to this liability, then you may be forced to pay up.

You wouldn’t want to overlook any ancient liabilities tied to the property you’re planning to buy – hence the Chancel Repair Search. This search is also the only way to ascertain reliably whether a liability exists. This is because they are not based on property titles – so someone could buy a home and be faced with a bill that they’ve never seen referenced before.

If it turns out that your property is liable to chancel repair, you can take out insurance to cover the cost, should The Church come knocking. While the instances of The Church demanding money are increasingly rare, this isn’t a risk you really want to take. However, having the relevant insurance in place means it becomes a matter for your insurer to deal with instead.

Other Conveyancing Searches

The “big 4” searches should be enough for most mortgage lenders. However, additional specialist searches may be required as part of your conveyancing process, in accordance with the Council for Mortgage Lenders’ instructions. This depends largely on the location of the property. Here are three other searches your solicitor may be recommending:

  1. A British Waterways Search should be carried out if your property is situated by a nearby canal or river.
  2. If the area is prone to flooding, a Flood Report should be considered. This will show whether the property has been flooded in the last 75 years.
  3. If mining has taken place or is likely to take place, you should carry out a Coal Mining and Brine Search to see how this may affect the property.

Dealing with potential issues

For most house purchases, the conveyancing process is an extended act of rubber-stamping, akin to your annual medical check-up at the GP. Generally speaking, there are no issues. However, if potential problems are uncovered, then it’s important you know how to act.

If your searches return issues your solicitor isn’t qualified to advise on, it’ is recommended to obtain a further opinion from a qualified surveyor or environmental expert.

Also, if the search does bring up some slightly concerning results, you may be able to re-negotiate the property price.

You obviously want to be happy yourself with the outcome of your conveyancing searches – anything that might affect its livability should be taken very seriously. However, this is only part of the story. You may be OK with a given issue, but if your lender isn’t, this can scupper the purchase. This is where mortgage indemnity insurance comes in.

Mortgage Indemnity Insurance

Mortgage Indemnity Insurance, sometimes called a Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee (MIG), can be an appropriate solution in those cases where lenders are not happy with the outcome of your conveyancing searches.

To understand how this works, let’s briefly step back. Fundamentally, your mortgage is secured on the property you’re buying. So, if you cannot pay the loan back, your lender still recoups their money – by selling the property. To enter this agreement, the lender must be confident that the property will keep its value, something that is unlikely if the conveyancing searches highlights potential major issues down the line.

Mortgage Indemnity Insurance, paid by buyers on top of their mortgage repayments, protects lenders against the risk that the property they’ve lent on suffers a drop in value. This way, they’re happy to release the funds, even if there are unresolved issues stemming from the conveyancing searches.

A Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee can be a useful way to push the move through and in the vast majority of cases isn’t needed. However, buyers must remember that, should issues emerge, it won’t pay to fix them. So it pays to be aware of the potential hazards associated with your property.

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It can be hard not to stick your head in the sand during the conveyancing process but it’s important to stay in the loop. Property searches are a vitally important part of the home-buying journey, revealing whether the property is fit for you to live in and for your lender to lend on. Buying a home is a huge investment, so make sure you’re not overlooking anything!

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Estate Agent Fees and Finding the Right Agent for your Move

Selling your house can be a great way to realise the value of what for many people is life’s biggest investment. However, selling your house is also one of life’s biggest stresses – and can be a time-consuming, expensive business. So estate agent fees are naturally top of mind for most sellers.

How much are estate agent fees?

Estate agents make a business of selling, managing and renting out properties. The term ‘estate agent’, strictly speaking, applies to those involved in the sale of property. If you’re looking to rent, then you’ll be speaking with a letting agent or management agent.

As with any business, estate agents can’t work for free. According to a survey by the house-selling website TheAdvisory in July 2018, the average estate agent fee was 1.42% (including VAT) of the final selling price. But the figure can vary anywhere from <1% to 3.5%. But on a bright note: as of October 2016, it is now compulsory to include VAT in quotes.

Types of charges

How much you get charged comes down to various factors, mostly dependent on what you as the seller want. Below is typical list of things covered by estate agent fees (though always ask, just to make sure you’re getting everything you feel is needed!)

  • Valuation – this is everything from researching the local market to looking at national trends, all of which gets refined into a report
  • Floor plans, measurements and photographs
  • Write-up on your property to attract potential buyers
  • The installation of a ‘For Sale’ sign
  • The organisation of viewings via telephone and online
  • Viewing costs
  • Marketing your property online and in print
  • Negotiation costs
  • Other business costs – this can be estate agency office rental, general advertisements, fleet cars

Why their price differs

You can go to two coffee shops and drink two differently priced cups of coffee. And the same is true of estate agents. Each runs on its own terms and has its own specialities. While online agencies are typically the cheapest, a high-street estate agent will still answer enquiries quickly and honestly.

Should you haggle?

Yes, as with anything. If you can haggle, you should. Selling your property is expensive to begin with, so even knocking 0.1% off that estate agency fee is going to save you money – and who’s going to moan about that?

Consumer body Which? recommends you invite 3 different estate agents to value your home. This doesn’t just give you 3 separate valuations, it gives you 3 different sets of estate agent fees. They also feature a number of questions you should think about asking the agent, such as:

  • How many similar properties have you sold, how much did you sell them for and how long did it take?
  • Where will you advertise my property, and will it include floor plans and pictures?
  • Which redress scheme do you belong to and for how long?
  • Are there any charges not included in the agent fees? If so, what are they?
  • Will you accompany buyers on all viewings and do you follow up with potential buyers after they’ve viewed the property?
  • Can I see a copy of your terms and conditions?

Being an estate agent is a competitive business, so you can usually negotiate a reduced fee or get more bang for you buck by getting an extra service or two thrown in. If there’s an agency you really like, tell them you found a cheaper deal with another agency and see if they’ll offer a reduced price.

If there’s an agent you prefer but they refuse to lower their fee, you can see if they will compromise by offering a sliding scale.

For instance, you could agree different rates of commission depending how much the agent gets for the property. Not only will they be more willing to consider this, it also gives them a great incentive to go for the best price as this will put more money into their pocket as well as yours.

Choosing the right estate agent

As part of the Which? 2017 National Property Survey, Which? spoke to home-movers selling property through estate agents.

The survey revealed that 12% of movers were dissatisfied with the services provided by their agent.

The best way to avoid ending up in this group is to ask a lot of questions up front. And, before signing a contract, read it and ask if you’re unsure or unhappy about something. It’s important that you understand your rights in the worst-case scenario that something goes wrong.

A few things to check when reading the contract:

  • If you’re unhappy with the service, how quickly could you get out of the contract and is there a fee?
  • Are you allowed to enlist more than one estate agent?
  • What happens if you find a buyer yourself?

If you’re still unsure or unhappy about anything, or if there’s something you still don’t understand, then don’t sign. It goes without saying that you should always read the small print! Remember that you can always go home and reread the contract, as well as seek independent advice before signing.

If you’re unsure in your choice of agent, you can compare local estate agencies using the comparison service GetAgent.

Estate agent fees remain the primary criterion in selecting an agent for your house move. However, as nice as saving money is, you want to ensure you get the best value for the money you spend. At the end of the day, a drawn-out sale, a lower price or no sale at all will hurt more than paying a bit more on commission.

Estate Agents: Glossary

To help you with some of the jargon used by estate agents, below is a list (with definitions) of some of the most common terms you’ll come across. If you see any other terms that you don’t understand, you can view more information in the Property Ombudsman’s glossary.

Fixed Fee

A set charge rather than a percentage of the final costs.

While you do have to pay this upfront, it’s usually cheaper and ensures you pay the same amount regardless of how quickly or slowly the property sells or for how much. Fixed fees are more common with online estate agents.

Multi-agency agreement

Instead of just one, you get several estate agents acting on your behalf. However, only the agent that sells your property receives commission.

Multi-agency agreements entail higher fees, usually between 2-3.5%. For the most part, it’s not the best way to spend your money, especially as most agencies these days will list your property on online portals like Rightmove.

Notice Period

This is the period of time – usually 2 weeks – between when you tell your estate agent you want to terminate the contract and when it actually terminates. Bear in mind that you may also have to factor in the tie-in period, if this applies (at the bottom of our list).

Open-ended agreements

As part of an open-ended agreement, an agent can claim commission if you sell to someone who the agent originally introduced to your property – even if this is months or years afterwards.

Ready, willing and able purchaser

A “ready, willing and able purchaser” clause stipulates that you must pay the agency for finding a buyer even if the sale falls through.

This can happen for many reasons out of your control. Personal circumstances may force you to take the property off the market or the seller could pull out, for instance. For this reason, The HomeOwners Alliance strongly recommends that you don’t sign this kind of contract.

Sole-agency agreement

Sole agency is the most common type of estate agent contract. This means that the estate agent is the only agent that can sell your property during the contract term. However, if you find a buyer yourself, then you don’t have to pay the estate agent fees. Typical estate agent fees for sole-agency agreements are in the range of 1-2%.

Sole-selling agreement

Like the sole-agency agreement, sole-selling also means that the estate agent is the only agent that can sell your property during the contract terms. However, there is a key difference. If you find a buyer, the estate agent is entitled to charge estate agent fees, typically between 1-2%. If this is in the contract clause, it is not recommended to sign.

Tie-in period

This is the period you are tied into the contract for from the date you first sign. If you change estate agents within the tie-in period, you are still liable to pay fees to the original agent. Typical tie-in periods are six weeks, after which you are only liable for extent of your notice period (usually 2 weeks).

Your rights with estate agents

Legally, estate agents must use clear terms in their contracts. They must also:

  • tell you about all offers in clear writing
  • reveal any personal or financial interest offers they have received on your property
  • keep these records for 6 years
  • be a member of The Property Ombudsman, The Property Redress Scheme or Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR)

If you suspect that an estate agent is in breach of regulations, you should complain to the estate agent first. If you are not satisfied with their resolution, or 8 weeks after the original complaint date, you can refer it to The Property Ombudsman, The Property Redress Scheme or CEDR, depending which scheme the estate agent is registered on.

Additionally, it’s advisable to keep detailed records of all dealings with your estate agents, in case any problems arise. This is why it’s best to operate on the basis of emails. This ensures there’s a paper trail to act as evidence of any issues that may arise.

Can you avoid estate agent fees?

Unfortunately, for the buyer, you cannot avoid estate agent fees. However, bear in mind that the UK has the cheapest estate agent fees in the world, and that these have been decreasing every year.

The only way to avoid estate agent fees is to do the work yourself. But, unless you’re skilled in this field, you may compromise your final sale price. And this will likely represent a bigger loss than the saving you make not enlisting a professional estate agent.

Besides that, your other option is of course to negotiate. While you can’t eliminate estate agent fees entirely, you can still try for a compromise or a reduction. Or, alternatively, you could consider using an online estate agency instead, which generally operate with lower fees.

Estate Agent Fees in Scotland

In Scotland, things work a little differently. The laws in Scotland allow for many solicitors to also act as estate agents. This way, the act of marketing your property goes together with the all legal work.

This said, there shouldn’t be any major differences in estate agent fees. The same work gets done, you just have to deal with one person instead of two.

In England and Wales, the laws differ. The roles of estate agents on the one hand and of solicitors and conveyancers on the other are clearly separate.

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Your Energy Performance Certificate

An Energy Performance Certificate (also known as EPC) is an energy efficiency rating for your property, and is needed by law on all properties in the process of being rented or sold.

An EPC report identifies areas where the property currently falls down in energy-efficiency terms and provides homeowners with recommendations for improving their property’s energy efficiency. EPCs were introduced by the government to improve efficiency levels, in light of growing debates and awareness around the environmental impact of low energy efficiency.

Since 2008 (2009 in Scotland), getting an EPC has been a legal requirement for any domestic or commercial building put up for sale or for rent. Sellers (even with new builds) must show an EPC to potential buyers, and landlords must have one available for tenants. So, if your home has been let or sold in the last decade, it should have an EPC (this remains valid for 10 years).

It can be helpful to know that there is a national register of EPCs (unless you’ve opted out) where you can take a look at your property’s previous certificates. You can also view similar properties in your neighbourhood for a comparison of how energy-efficient your home is – if you’re interested in having a nosey around!

You cannot issue an Energy Performance Certificate yourself. Rather, you need to enlist the services of a professional RICS-Accredited Chartered Surveyor or Domestic Energy Assessor. Your estate or letting agent may well offer these services as an additional cost. However to get the best cost for your certificate, it’s often better to get the assessment completed directly.

Whose Responsibility is the EPC Certificate?

Selling a Property

If you’re selling a property, you will always need an up-to-date EPC. If you already have one, make sure to check that it’s still within date. As we mentioned, they expire after 10 years.

Buying a Property

If you are buying a property, the EPC will be provided by the property seller. In the case of newly constructed properties (new builds), it is usually the developer that provides the EPC.

Renting a Property

For rented properties, the landlord is responsible for arranging an EPC. When buying or renting a property you should never be asked to provide, or pay for, an EPC report.

How much does an EPC cost?

An EPC usually takes between 45 minutes and an hour to complete and costs, on average,  £60 – £120. This covers two things:

  1. The survey, completed by an accredited assessor
  2. The certificate itself

Other factors that can contribute to the overall cost are the location and size of your property.

If you’re working with a professional to carry out and obtain your EPC, make sure that they are accredited to do this. You can make sure of this by searching for your assessor on the government portal. Working with an accredited assessor will ensure that your EPC has a legal foundation should anyone raise concerns or questions.

On top of these costs, there may be the added expense of any work needed to improve the energy efficiency on your property.

EPC Exemptions

There are cases where you’re exempt from getting an Energy Performance Certificate. Typically, you do not require an EPC if you can demonstrate that the building is:

  • officially protected or listed
  • a temporary building that is only going to be used for 2 years or less
  • a workshop, industrial site or non-residential agricultural building that doesn’t use much energy
  • a place of worship or building used for other religious activities
  • a detached building with under 50 square metres of total floor space
  • due to be demolished by the seller or landlord with the relevant planning and conservation documentation
  • due to be rented out or sold with vacant possession
  • suitable for demolition and the buyer or tenant has applied for planning permission to demolish the building

An EPC is also not be needed for a room being rented out by a resident landlord.

What does a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) do?

The cost of your EPC covers the services of a Chartered Surveyor or Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA).

The DEA will carry out a number of health and safety checks on your property, taking details throughout the building. This includes the overall construction of the property, the dimensions of your living space, details of any insulation, and your lighting and heating systems.

This allows them to identify areas where heat may be lost, through windows, ceilings and walls for example, and apply a rating. They will take photos throughout so that there’s a record of their findings.

The inspection gives you an indication of how much it will cost to power and heat the property. It also comes with suggestions on how you could potentially save money by improving the energy efficiency of the building.

What assessors are looking for:

  • Inspection of room heaters, boilers, heating controls and fireplaces: a large part of the assessment will involve studying the heating system, any controls it has and the overall energy efficiency of the system.
  • Record of fuel type to heat the property
  • Survey of the property’s construction type (solid brick, stone etc.), including its age any extensions on it
  • Inspection of insulation present in the loft and walls: assessors will also undertake a visual inspection of the loft (if you have one). This will tell them how much, and what type of, insulation you’re using. Additionally, they can ascertain the type of wall/insulation between you and the house next door.
  • Record of low-energy lighting: they will check the number as well as the type of light fittings to see if these are energy-efficient.
  • Inspection of window glazing: they will also undertake a visual inspection of windows, checking whether they are single-, double- or triple-glazed, as well as whether they meet various standards.

The data is recorded on a property datasheet. The Energy Performance Certificate is then sent to the agent and/or property owner within 2 days, logged with Landmark Registry and stored, with all copies of Certificates, in the government portal. Once completed, you should receive your Energy Performance Certificate within a few working days.

How is your EPC rating calculated?

Having gathered all the data they need during the survey, assessors can now calculate your EPC score. They do this using the Reduced Data Standards Assessment Procedure (RDSAP), a model developed by the government.

The assessor inputs data including property type, property age, property dimensions, the construction type, room and water heating systems, insulation levels, window and glazing types, and types of lighting.

The RDSAP software is a cost-based rating system which uses a number of pre-determined assumptions. It doesn’t consider the impact of appliances like washing machines, TVs and dishwashers in the property. So, what it provides is not an occupancy rating.

Reading your EPC report

The EPC rating is easy to read and understand, with a clear letter- and colour-coded scale. It comprises two key ratings: an ‘Energy Efficiency Rating’ and ‘Environmental Impact (CO2) Rating’.

EPC: Energy Efficiency Rating

The building’s current rating will appear on a scale from A (dark green) to G (dark red). A is the most energy-efficient and G is the least. This scale also features the potential rating you could achieve if you enacted the energy-efficiency recommendations included within your report.

EPC: Environmental Impact (Co2) Rating

The Environmental Impact (CO2) Rating uses a similar system to the Energy Efficiency Rating. The scale in this case grades from A (light blue) to G (dark grey). A corresponds to ‘very environmentally friendly – lower CO2 emissions’, G to ‘Not environmentally friendly – higher CO2 emissions’. This will also include a potential rating – what you could achieve by following the recommendations included in your report.

What if I don’t understand something?

If you don’t understand something on your certificate or you disagree with it, the first place to go is the energy assessor that carried out the EPC. Their details should be listed in the ‘about this document’ section of the report.

If the assessor cannot resolve your issue, you can contact their accreditation scheme. The relevant details will also be listed in the ‘about this document’ section of the certificate.

What if the property scores a low EPC rating?

Don’t panic! The EPC rating represents the current energy efficiency of the property. But it doesn’t have to stay like that.

As mentioned, the EPC report will also contain recommendations for increasing the energy efficiency of the property, along with an indicative cost and potential cost savings of undertaking these updates. Using this information, you should easily be able to weigh the benefits of making these updates against the money they will cost you.

If you’re planning on renting a property and the EPC is not satisfactory, you are free to negotiate with your letting agent or landlord. You may be able to get some of the suggested work done ahead of moving into the property.

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Exchange of Contracts: Quick Guide

When you’re buying a house, nothing is set in stone until you exchange contracts. Yes, you might be ready to move before the exchange date and, yes, you might feel like all is settled and finalised. But until those contracts have been exchanged, nothing is confirmed.

The exchanging of contracts on a house is one of the final hurdles to overcome on your way to buying a property. While numerous things will need sorting out once the contracts have been signed and exchanged, you are now legally committed to the purchase of the house and the property is pretty much yours.

On the legal side of things, the contract exchange is a big thing. But, just as importantly, the emotional aspect of the contract exchange is also huge.

Buying a house is a long and drawn-out process, and sometimes it feels like a never-ending cycle of hassle and legal fees. It can be hard to keep your motivation up during the negotiations and administration process but, once you exchange contracts, it all becomes worth it – finally, you know you’re moving into your dream home.

How contracts are exchanged

So, what actually happens on the day of reckoning? Well, you’ll be glad to know that it’s all pretty straightforward. At this point in the buying process, the mortgage lender will have approved your mortgage, the solicitor will be happy with the results of any surveys and the seller will be willing to accept your offer and pass over the ownership. All that you, the buyer, need to do is go out and ask your solicitor to get the contracts exchanged.

Solicitors and conveyancers acting on the behalf of the buyer and the seller handle the exchange and completion stage. They will put down the terms of the property transaction in writing and make sure the price is agreed, as well as what’s included in that price, such as furniture items.

Once those terms are agreed, you can exchange contracts and the deal now becomes legally binding. The contract includes an agreed completion date, and the new owner of the property will then be added at the Land Registry.

Of course, this is also the moment that you give up all that money you have been saving for years. The exchange of contracts also involves the buyer putting down a deposit. This tends to be 10 per cent of the purchase price. For many people, this is the hardest part of the whole process and is often the moment that it all becomes ‘real.’ That money has had a lot of emotional investment and it can be quite hard letting it go, despite the fact that it is being used for what it was intended for.

House contracts exchanged

Before you Exchange Contracts: our Quick Checklist

While the exchange of the contracts may sound very exciting, indeed a cause for celebration, there is a lot that must be done before you get to the point where you can shake hands, high-five and crack open the bubbles.

1. Mortgage valuation and written offer

Once the terms have been agreed, you will need to make sure you’ve had your mortgage valuation and offer completed – only then can you proceed to exchange contracts.

When you’re buying a property, one of the biggest and most complex issues you have to navigate is getting a mortgage. Once you’ve applied for your mortgage, you will then be assessed and asked numerous questions about how you manage your finances.

The lender may ask for several supporting documents to back-up your claims. As it can take quite a while to get all this sorted, make sure you’re organised and don’t leave it until the last minute.  It’s also important that you keep your solicitor in the loop at this time.

If your application is accepted, the lender will carry out a valuation of the property and check whether it’s priced correctly and suitable for mortgage purposes.  Lenders have a standard valuation, which is the minimum check they require to progress your application (this is required by law).

A surveyor acting on behalf of the lender will inspect the property, highlighting any major defects or issues that could potentially affect the property’s value. The lender will also compare the property to similar ones in the area, taking into consideration the building’s age, condition and location. These results are used to generate a valuation report, which will form the basis of the mortgage offer.

Once your valuation has been completed, the lender will carry out a few final checks and then write to you and your solicitor with a mortgage offer. This offer will include a copy of your valuation and you can ask your solicitor to give you a run-down of the offer, if required.

2. Ensure relevant searches are complete

There are things about the property you may not know just from sounding it out with an estate agent. As part of the conveyancing process, your conveyancer will do a set of legal searches to ensure nothing is being hidden and that there are no underlying issues for you to be aware of.

These searches are a vital part of the buying process and ensure you’re not taking ownership of a property with serious issues and hazards. The conveyancer will take a look at planning permission in the area, check the ownership of the property, whether it’s liable to flooding. They may also conduct an environmental search to assess air purity and ground stability.

You may think that you know the area and the property well enough to not have these checks performed, but they are a legal part of the process and are in place to prevent you getting any nasty surprises down the line

You may also want to check the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of your new place to see if there are any underlying issues with the way that it functions. This will help you determine your likely costs while living there.

3. Agreeing the terms of the offer

The terms of your offer will need to have been agreed in principle with the seller, and they will have to be happy to pass over ownership of the property to your.

It goes without saying that you should have read, understood and agreed to everything that is in the text of the contract. Buying a house is one of the biggest investments that you are likely to make, so you need to be sure that you clearly understand what you are getting yourself into.

You may want to get the negotiations over and done with. However, if you’re unsure about anything, no matter how small, ask your solicitor to go over it with you before you sign.

4. Arranging Buildings Insurance

Common law provides that responsibility for a property passes to the buyer upon exchange of contracts, unless the contract provides otherwise. For this reason, you’ll want to have got buildings insurance lined up to take effect from the day you exchange contracts.

This is point is commonly neglected by buyers, who assume they only become responsible for damages upon completion, that is: from the point when they move in.

It’s unlikely that your new home will go up in flames during this interim. But the risk isn’t zero, and if it did you’d be the one footing the bill.

If you’re going to be leaving your property vacant for a period, bear in mind that there are certain perils that can quickly become catastrophic if left untreated – like burst pipes for example.

For this reason, regardless of what your moving-in plans are, you need to get your new home insured and protected – from exchange day onward. Don’t wait until completion.

5. Setting your Completion Date

The completion date can be at any time and on any date agreed by the two parties, but it tends to be around four weeks after you exchange contracts.

It’s becoming increasingly common for solicitors to agree on the exchange and completion being done on the same day, but this comes with its perils. If the sale falls through at the last minute, you could end up with removal lorries parked up outside of a home that you do not own and with a big bill for you pay without a legal right to recover.

Setting a completion date a few weeks after you exchange contracts is a safe way to do things, provided of course you have relevant insurance in place.

This delay means that, if either party deviates from their side of the deal, they could be liable to legal action being taken against them from the other party. For example, the injured party can reclaim any losses incurred from a sale collapsing.  Therefore, despite the temptation to get the keys and move on in, it’s sensible to agree a completion date within a realistic time-frame.

What about Gazumping?

You may have got everything in place: mortgages, searches, insurance. You may have penciled a completion date into your diary. However, be warned:

Until you exchange contracts, nothing stops the seller accepting another bid on the house or taking it off the market – so make sure you’re ready to move as quickly as possible.

This last-minute acceptance of higher offers is known as “gazumping”, an infuriating though totally legal practice that could happen to you. In some cases, the higher offers are fictitious (“ghost gazumping”) – a ploy by sellers to get you to increase your offer.

While there’s not much you can do if you are gazumped, there are some things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Ask the seller to take the property off the market once your offer has been accepted
  • Offer to put down a £1,000 ‘holding deposit’ to show that you are serious.
  • It’s also important to have all of the necessary documents and information ready, so that you can move as quickly as possible from getting your offer accepted to exchange of contracts.

Click here to learn more about gazumping and what you can do to gazump-proof your move.

On Completion Day

The last part of your long journey into home ownership is the completion day itself. Your solicitor will have finalised the date with the seller’s party, and it is finally time to exchange the money and pick up the keys for your new place.

Your solicitor will issue a Certificate of Title to your lender and they will release the funds to your solicitor, who will then transfer the money to the seller’s solicitor. Once they have received the money, the purchase is complete and you can finally move in!

By the time you exchange contracts, it may seem like the end of the race already. However, it’s more correct to see exchanging contracts as one final hurdle before your hard-earned domestic bliss.

So, once again: make sure you are thoroughly prepared and clearly understand the terms of the agreement. It will have taken a long time to get here, so do not rush into something you are unsure about, and always keep your wits about you. Other than that, happy moving!

Looking to move? Compare the best house removal companies using buzzmove. Get up to 6 free quotes from trusted movers.

Gazumping: All You Need to Know

For all the stresses that come with moving house, there are not many better feelings in the world than when your offer is accepted. Finally, it looks like you’re about to get the keys to your dream home. But, before you head on down to a Swedish furniture outlet and begin cracking open the champers, it’s important to remember that you are not quite over the finish line.

The acceptance of your offer may seem like the final hurdle, but the road to getting your keys is long and treacherous, with plenty of potentially major potholes. One of these potholes is the dreaded act of ‘gazumping.’

So, what is gazumping exactly?

Gazumping, like ‘Pow!’ and ‘Wallop!,’ is a word that sounds like it belongs in a cartoon fight scene, but it comes with some pretty serious consequences.

Gazumping is where another party makes a higher offer on the house that you are in the process of buying and has their offer accepted. This can lead to you crashing out of the home buying process and walking away with your tail firmly between your legs – and emotionally drained.

Emotionally, if you’ve been gazumped, you can be left feeling pretty forlorn with the whole home-buying process, and it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In just a matter of days, you have been through the emotional meat grinder of sending your offer, having it accepted, getting your things together to move forward with the process, and then having it all snatched away from you in front of your very eyes.

If the emotional implications weren’t bad enough, gazumping can also make a dent in your finances.

By the time that an offer has been made on a home, it’s more than likely that a buyer has spent money on conveyancing fees, survey charges and mortgage arrangement fees. If you’re then gazumped, all of that money goes down the drain, meaning that you are left thousands of pounds out of pocket – something that nobody wants.

Protect Yourself against Gazumping

Despite the controversy and many protests surrounding it, gazumping is still legal in the UK. But forewarned is forearmed… Here are seven key ways that prospective buyers can protect themselves from being gazumped.

1. Mortgage in Principle

The rule of thumb when buying a house – and to protect you from being gazumped – is that speed is of the essence.

Make sure you’re prepared and ready to move as quickly as possible as soon as your offer is accepted. One of the best ways to boost your speed of action is by getting a ‘mortgage in principle’.

A mortgage in principle is a conditional offer made by the mortgage lender that they will ‘in principle’ give you a loan up to a specific amount agreed by both parties.

Obviously, there are still several hoops to jump through after the principle has been agreed, but having that agreement will help speed things up a lot.  Ensure you have your solicitor lined up and all the necessary documentation ready and to hand for the home-buying process.

2. Have the property taken off the market

Another step you can take to avoid being gazumped is to ask for the property you’ve offered on to be taken off the market.

While some sellers may not be too keen on this – wanting to make sure that their house is sold for the best price possible – if a property is taken off the market, there’s a much smaller chance of someone pipping you to the post with a better offer.

It may take some luck to have the property removed from the market, but by showing you’re serious, and offering to have a survey undertaken as soon as your offer is accepted, cannot harm your chances.

3. Leverage your relationship with the seller

Whether or not you manage to get the property taken off the market, getting to know the sellers is always helpful and reduces your risk of getting gazumped.

Maintaining regular contact – keeping the seller informed of where you are in the buying process – is the foundation stone for a trusting bond between the two of you. And, the more the seller trusts you, the more time they will give you to get things sorted.

Be warned, however, that agents tend to try and keep clients from contacting each other. Legally though, there is nothing that they can do to stop you from exchanging emails and keeping in touch.

4. Lock-Out Agreements

Another thing to consider when gazump-proofing your move is the possibility of a ‘lock out’ agreement.

A lock-out agreement is a contract between buyer and seller that gives they buyer exclusive rights to buy the property within a certain timeframe. Once more, the seller must be on board with this, and you will need to show the seller that you are genuinely serious about buying their property.

Also, it must be said, lock out agreements do cost money – so consult your conveyancing solicitor first about the costs of drawing up the agreement.

5. Home Buyer Protection Insurance

As mentioned, gazumping can have financial implications on prospective buyers, and this can form a large part of the trauma of being gazumped.

While there’s little you can do to lessen the emotional upset of gazumping, you can to a great extent take the financial implications out of the equation – by purchasing Home Buyer Protection Insurance.

Home Buyer Protection Insurance pays you an agreed sum to cover the losses of fees in the event of you being gazumped. If you’re going to get gazumped, you’re going to get gazumped. But if you’re going into the buying process with insurance, you’re going in with peace of mind.

6. Pre-Contract Deposits

The fight against gazumping has seen new avenues of security being explored by buyers, one of them a so-called pre-contract deposit. This is a payment – often in the region of £1,000 – designed to prevent gazumping and offer both buyer and seller more security.

Payment of the deposit ensures a property is taken off the market, essentially letting the buyer ‘reserve’ it. If the sale goes through, the deposit comes out of the final price. However, if the sale falls through for no ‘good reason,’ the deposit is then paid to the seller.

On the seller’s side of things, a pre-contract deposit marks out serious buyers from time-wasters. If someone is not completely committed to purchasing the property, it’s unlikely that they are going to part ways with £1,000 – so the deposited money works to the advantage of both parties.

If you want a property taken off the market and have some spare liquidity, it may be worth seeing if you can agree a pre-contract deposit for the property in question. While pre-contract deposits are still quite rare, they are gaining in popularity as people seek better ways to gazump-proof their move.

7. Of course: gazump the gazumpers

This is where things get interesting. If the house you’ve been gazumped on is the home of your dreams and you have a little more money in the bank, you can, of course, gazump the gazumper.

Gazumping is a legal act and you are allowed to do it back to those who do it to you, but don’t get carried away. Beware overstretching yourself financially. And remember: just because you have gazumped them back, that doesn’t mean they won’t come back with a still higher counter-offer.

Towards a Gazump-Free Future

While gazumping is still legal in the UK, it has been reported that ministers are looking to introduce new legislation to clampdown on gazumping and reduce the stress of buying a home.

During his time as the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid announced a call for evidence to improve the experience of home buying and selling, aiming to make it “cheaper, faster and less stressful” for those involved.

One of the main targets of the legislation was gazumping, with ministers looking at what could be done to reduce its prevalence in the home-buying industry.  Whether this will involve new types of lock-out agreements, changing the point at which a sale becomes binding, or finding a more efficient method of conveyancing and surveying, remains to be seen. But it’s refreshing to know something is being done to assist home buyers.

McGazumping: Buying in Scotland

If, after reading all of this, you’ve now been put off buying a house in England, there is another option available to you: move to Scotland. Yes, Scotland: the land of bagpipes and free university fees is also a great place for home buyers.

Gazumping is as legal in Scotland as it is in England and Wales, but it’s a very rare thing. In Scotland, solicitor estate agents sell the majority of properties. These agents are bound by the Law Society of Scotland’s guidelines, and these are intended to prevent gazumping from happening.

Once a solicitor acting on the behalf of a seller has accepted an offer on the property, they are not allowed to accept any subsequent offers from another party. If there is a later offer that the seller wants to accept, the solicitor has to withdraw from acting on the behalf of the seller and the seller must then find someone else to carry out their legal work.  Of course, there is nothing to prevent the seller from doing this, but changing solicitor is something that is relatively rare, as it will delay the sale going through.

… Gazundering

For all the talk about gazumping, there is also another phenomenon in the housing market that wreaks havoc on potential sales: gazundering.

Gazundering is where the buyer lowers their offer at the last minute, just before the contracts are exchanged. Often the seller, conscious that refusing the offer will send them back to square one, is forced into a corner and feels like they have to accept the lower offer.

Gazundering, like gazumping, is completely legal and there is nothing stopping the buyer from dropping their offer before exchanging the contracts. There are, however, a few steps sellers can take to prevent gazundering from happening.

  • Keep your price realistic and don’t put the property on the market at way over what it’s worth.
  • Stay in touch with the buyer: maintaining a good relationship and ensuring things move along quickly makes buyers much less likely to try and pull the rug from under your feet when it comes to the contract exchange.
  • Don’t try and hide anything about your property or the area it’s in. A survey will reveal any problems with the property itself, and most buyers will research the area – so everything will, ultimately, come to light during the buying process. And, if there are serious underlying issues, the buyer is well within their rights to withdraw their offer or lower it to account for them.

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So there we have it: everything you need to know about gazumping and what you can do to avoid it. Sadly, there’s no way of knowing if you’re going to be gazumped, and you may be one of the unfortunate people who lose a property at the last hurdle. But, if you’re in the buying market, make sure you’re prepared, organised and ready to complete your purchase as swiftly and smoothly as possible – that will give you the greatest chance of success.

Looking to move? Compare the best house removal companies using buzzmove. Get up to 6 free quotes from trusted movers.

How to Redirect Mail When Moving House

You know what it’s like when you feel like you’ve forgotten something crucial. This feeling is a fact of moving house – but it doesn’t mean you can’t be systematic in covering everything off. Here’s our quick checklist on how to redirect mail when you change address.

Redirecting your post is super easy to do and saves you plenty of trouble down the line. If you forget to redirect your mail when you move, there’s a chance that personal or sensitive information falls into the wrong hands. And this means that you could become the victim of identity fraud. You don’t want to miss important documents sent to your old address either.

Below, we’ve outlined the different ways to redirect mail – so that every time you move house you take your identity with you!

When should you apply?

It’s best to apply three weeks before you move, but ideally as soon as possible. This gives plenty of time for a Redirection to be set up. Royal Mail, for example, needs at least five working days to carry out this process.

You can apply:

  • A maximum of six months before you move
  • Up to six months after you’ve moved

Note: If you give less than five working days’ notice of your move, some of your mail might be delivered to your old address.

Royal Mail offers a variety of ways to redirect your mail. You can redirect mail to any UK or overseas address for 3, 6 or 12 months from just £33.99.

You can also redirect other people’s mail if you all live at the same address. It’s possible as well to arrange a Redirection for the mail of someone who has died. In all cases, you’ll need to apply either at a Post Office® or by post.

You can’t, however, arrange a Redirection for people who don’t live at the same address as you, unless you have Power of Attorney.

How to Redirect Mail by Paper Form

You can apply by post to have your mail redirected. All you need to do is complete Royal Mail’s application form.

As part of this, you’ll have to provide proof of identity and original documents showing the address you’re moving from. Royal Mail will not accept photocopies but they will return originals to you – so you don’t need to worry about losing these.

Note: Make sure your details are correct! Otherwise, any mail on its way to your old address won’t be redirected.

If everyone applying shares the same last name, Royal Mail only needs identification from the person sending the application. If you have different last names, you need to send identification for each person, choosing one of the following:

  • Two different utility bills from the last six months (not a mobile phone or store / charge-card statement, bills printed from the internet are not valid)
  • A bank/building-society statement from the last six months
  • A credit card statement from the last six months

How do I pay?

Royal Mail only accepts payment by cheque payable to Royal Mail Group Ltd. If you have different last names, you need to enclose a separate cheque in the name of each different last name.

Then, post your completed application form, proof of identity and cheque(s) for the Redirection service you require to:

Royal Mail Redirection Centre

PO Box 944

STOKE ON TRENT

ST1 5DB

United Kingdom

For security purposes, Royal Mail will send an acknowledgement letter to your old address to confirm that you have set up a Redirection. This is just in case this was set up without your knowledge. If you’re already aware of it, then you can safely ignore the letter.

How to Redirect Mail Online

The fastest way to apply for a Redirection is online. You can apply here using Royal Mail’s online application form.

You’ll need:

  • A Royal Mail online account (you can set this up as part of your application if you haven’t got one already). It’s very quick and easy.
  • The names and dates of birth of everyone who needs their mail redirecting.
  • The full address and postcode of your old and new addresses.
  • To give at least 5 working days’ notice of the date you want your Redirection to start.
  • A valid credit or debit card (American Express or pre-paid cards not accepted).

Note: For moves involving more than 8 people, you’ll need to apply at the Post Office or by posting the form you can download from the Apply and Buy section.

How to Redirect Mail in Person

You can also apply and buy at your nearest Post Office® by following the below steps. You will need to do this if you’re applying for >8 people, on behalf of the deceased or for people you have Power of Attorney for.

Download, print and complete the online application form or pick up an application form at your local Post Office®. You’ll need two forms of proof of identity that show the address you’re moving from. These must be the originals as photocopies are not accepted.

If you are providing bills and statements as ID, they must be dated within the last six months. If everyone applying shares the same last name, the ID of the person applying will only be required at the Post Office® branch. Otherwise, you’ll need two different forms of original identification – not photocopies – for each different last name on the form.

Practicalities of Redirecting Mail

Your mail will go to the delivery office for your old address first before it’s forwarded. This will add at least a day to its journey. From there, it will be forwarded using a 1st Class Mail service to your new address, unless it was sent by Special Delivery Guaranteed®. Items sent by this service will still require a signature, but guaranteed delivery dates won’t apply.

If you’ve moved outside the UK, Royal Mail will forward your mail by International Standard.

Exceptions

Laws and restrictions prevent Royal Mail from redirecting certain items to addresses both within and outside the UK. You can find out more about this on the Royal Mail website.

Who else should I notify about my move?

You can keep it secret and go into hiding. But it would probably be a good idea to let your family and friends know where you’re heading! You can do this via text or even mail the people you care about with personalised letters, as an extra touch.

Electoral role

Updating your information on your electoral role ensures you get to vote in local and national elections at your new address. Being registered at your new house will also help your credit score, as it helps lenders check your name and address.

Delivery platforms and subscriptions

If you’re someone with a lot of subscriptions and regularly receive parcels and packages, then you’ll want to update your address on these platforms  as soon as you move. This way, your deliveries will arrive at the right place, at the right time.

You’d be surprised how often people accidentally order packages to old addresses, especially with modern e-com sites’ (usually super helpful!) tendency to save and pre-populate our address details …

GP and Dentist

You’ll need to tell your GP, dentist and any other medical professionals about your change of address so they can update your records. If you’re moving to a different catchment area, you’ll probably be signing up to a new GP anyway, in which case you’ll give your new address when registering.

Bank

The importance of informing any banks and building societies you use should not be overlooked. They will need to update their records for you, and you certainly don’t want any bank details sent to your old address!

Home insurance

Remember to inform your home insurance provider of your change of address, as you will need a new policy for your new home. This may well see a change in your premium. For example, your insurer may deem your new area to be riskier (or safer) than your old address.

Moving house is a perfect time to change your home insurance provider, especially as you’ll likely have an up-to-date inventory list to inform your contents insurance. Even if you’re keeping the same provider, it’s vital they have an up-to-date address for bills and any subsequent contact.

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Looking to move? Compare the best house removal companies using buzzmove. Get up to 6 free quotes from trusted movers.

Packing Boxes: Top Tips for your Move

The moment you move house is the moment you realise you’re a hoarder. While this may seem like an extreme statement, it rings true in the majority of cases. We’ve all laughed and mocked hoarders on TV, questioning why they keep all this useless junk that will never see the light of day. But, when you look in your attic, on your shelves or in your cupboards, are you really that different?

The biggest pain when it comes to moving house is packing. No one likes it, no one wants to do it, but – sadly – it’s unavoidable. Packing your suitcase for your holiday is bad enough, but packing up years of your life… well, that’s a whole different ball game. Why did you buy all those “Build Your Own Robot” magazines? Why do you still own floppy disks? And on what planet was buying Mini Disks (remember them?) ever a good idea?

We’re all guilty of collecting things we don’t need and this is one of the first things you’ll need to consider when you starting planning your move.

Packing Service or Do-It-Yourself

When it comes to packing up your things, you have two options: enlist a professional packer or do it yourself.

Using a packing service ensures your items are packed safely and securely. This reduces the risk of damage to valuables in transit, a risk that’s substantially higher if things have been thrown in a box willy-nilly.

Doing your packing yourself is a convenient way to cut costs. And if you’ve not got many high-value items, then you may not mind so much about the risk of damage or loss. However, doing your own packing can invalidate your insurance cover for your goods in transit.

For this reason, you should always talk to your home insurer and/or your removals company before taking the DIY route. Check out our recent post on Goods In Transit insurance for more info.

Before Moving: Weed Out the Trash

We’re constantly told that minimalism is the new way of living, with Mark Zuckerburg owning, like, 2 t-shirts or something. But while that may work for billionaires, the rest of us love nothing more than collecting random objects.

You may think you don’t own much, but when your thoughts move to the logistics of packing, your opinion of yourself will change. Whether you’re using a professional or packing yourself, you too have a large opportunity to save on your removals bill by weeding out the trash beforehand.

To weed out the rubbish from the worthwhile, you should look at the importance of the object: does it serve a purpose? Is there any form of sentimental value attached to it? If the answer to those questions is ‘yes’, feel free to pop them into a packing box.

If the object doesn’t serve a purpose or have any kind of sentimental value, then off it goes into the trash (or charity) bag.

There will, of course, be difficult decisions. Take that remote control car you got for Christmas one year, for example. You loved that toy, didn’t you? But, realistically, when was the last time you used it? All it does it sit in that box collecting dust and, despite what you may tell yourself, no one is really going to pay thousands of pounds for it in 10 years time. It’s time to part ways. In essence, only keep things you need or that have meaning.

How Many Packing Boxes Do I Need?

Now that you’ve managed to declutter your home and the trash is finally gone, another issue you have to contend with is: how many packing boxes do you need?

If you’re using a professional, don’t worry – they will provide the boxes, so you can sit back. But if you’re doing your own packing, there’s nothing worse than not having enough boxes. But you don’t want too many either!

Thankfully, if you’re using a reputable removal company, then they should be able to give you a rough estimation of how many boxes you will need per room in your house.

Most removal companies will do a pre-move survey of the home and will inform you of how many boxes they think you should buy. Of course, this advice is an estimate and it’s always best to be on the safe side of things, so maybe buy a couple more than they suggest. That way, you’ll have enough space for all your belongings and nothing will be left performing a precarious balancing act in the trunk of your car.

Sourcing Packing Boxes

So, you know which items you need to take and how many boxes are required, but how do you source your packing boxes?

Moving house is expensive and, understandably, we all want to cut costs when it comes to packing. Thankfully, there are ways to get your hands on free boxes, but be warned: don’t scrimp on quality for the sake of a few pounds.

If you’re looking for some free boxes to help with your move, check out local notice boards such as Freecycle and Gumtree to see if anyone is giving them away. Another outlet for free boxes is your local supermarket. Most supermarkets are happy to give away their fruit and veg boxes to you if you ask, with some even promoting the idea. However, while these boxes have their uses, many of them are shallow and have open tops, making them a bit of a hazard if transferring fragile goods. Local restaurants will also be happy to assist in your box hunt, with the majority of them receiving multiple deliveries of food a week, making them a great source of boxes.

Alternatively, you may have moved house in the past, meaning that it might be worth taking a look in your attic to see if you chucked any boxes up there. As we can all attest, the attic is often used as some form of vortex for items such as boxes and other bits, so there’s a high chance of finding some gold up there!

On a similar note, ask around friends and family to see if they have any packing boxes going spare, people often do and are more than happy to get rid of them in order to de-clutter their own home. Or, if you’re someone who likes to do a spot of online shopping, make sure you plan ahead and keep your boxes when your delivery comes – just try not to ruin them by tearing them open in excitement.

Once you have exhausted all of the above channels and are still after a few more boxes, there’s an abundance of retailers both online and on the high street that stock packing boxes at good prices. Make sure that the boxes are strong enough to hold your belongings and won’t tear due to too much pressure. The last thing you want is to quite literally air your dirty laundry in front of your new neighbours!

Top Packing Tips for a Stress-Free Move

You’ve selected what’s coming with you and you’ve got your boxes, now it’s time to pack! That’s right, it is time to put your life away into a multitude of murky brown cardboard boxes and hope that it will meet you safe and sound in a new destination.

There are many different approaches to packing your boxes: there are those of us who choose to just throw everything in, wrap it up in loads of tape and hope for the best. Others are a little more regimented and careful.

The “H” Method

If you’re looking to make your box as strong as possible, it’s best to adopt the “throw everything in” approach. When preparing your box for transit, it’s best to use the “H” method for sealing it.

To do this, fold the smaller flaps of the box down first and then fold the larger ones down afterwards. Once done, seal the box with a line of tape down the centre, where the two larger flaps meet. After that, seal the edges along the left and right-hand side of the larger flaps to form an ‘H’ shape with your tape. If you’re still unsure whether this is strong enough, reinforce the shape with more tape.

To make sure that your stuff is safe in transit to your new home, be sure to add bubble wrap, tissue paper or even newspaper to protect fragile items from breaking. If you do have boxes containing fragile objects, be sure to clearly label the boxes as fragile, just to prevent any unwanted accidents.

Make Sure You Label Your Boxes

Labeling your boxes is something that may not be the most obvious thing to do on your list, but it is extremely useful.

Whether you work best with colour codes or prefer numbers, be sure to mark your boxes in a manner that clearly shows what they contain and what room they belong in. For example, if you have multiple boxes for your living room, give them all a green label or a number ‘4’ so that you know where those boxes have to go once they’re in your new home. This will save you time and stress and will make moving in a lot more enjoyable.

Don’t Forget the Essentials Box

The last thing to consider when packing boxes is your ‘essentials box.’ The essentials box is exactly what it says on the tin (or cardboard, for this matter): it’s a box of essentials.

When you arrive at your new home, it’s highly unlikely that you are going to unpack all of your belongings in one go. For this reason, you need an essentials box. This box should contain enough toiletries, food, pots and pans, cutlery and dishes, clothes and underwear to get you through the first few days in your new abode and make sure that you’re comfortable in your new surroundings. So it really is a worthwhile thing to do.

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Moving house is stressful and nothing will ever change that, but there are things that can be done to make the process easier, and your approach to packing boxes is one of those things. If you are moving, plan ahead with your packing, stay calm and make sure you’re organised – it will make a world of difference. Other than that, enjoy your move and your new home!

Looking to move? Compare the best house removal companies using buzzmove. Get up to 6 free quotes from trusted movers.

Goods in Transit Insurance: Why you Need it for Your Move

Most people have probably never heard of Goods in Transit Insurance. And this despite people moving all the time. It all seems simple enough. Get a removals company with good credentials for a decent price, and you’re away, right?

Well… not necessarily. You wouldn’t load your most cherished possessions into the back of any old van, would you?

One of the worst things that can happen, upon arriving at your new place, is to uncover loss or damage to your things. But the worst thing is discovering they weren’t insured properly.

Home insurance and moving house

If you own the property you’re in right now, the chances are you have a home insurance policy. And, once you move, you will also have a shiny new policy for your new place too.

Home insurance protects not just the building you live in but all the things you’ve got in it too. Your furniture, your laptop, your cuckoo clock collection – if your home contents are burgled or damaged in a fire or a flood, then you can claim them back.

Some home/contents insurance policies cover items during removals as a standard feature. Sometimes this can be bought as an extra. In many cases though, your home/contents insurance policy will not cover you. And there may be exemptions that give you cause for concern.

All of this means that your house move represents a significant chink in your coverage. And this is where Goods in Transit Insurance comes in.

What is Goods In Transit Insurance?

Goods In Transit insurance exists to protect your things as they make their journey from your old home to your new.

And the good news is that this is rarely something you have to hunt for yourself. Any reputable moving firm should cover your goods in transit either as a built-in component of their service or as a low-cost add-on.

However, it’s not a legal requirement for removal companies to have Goods In Transit insurance, and plenty don’t. And, if you’re moving your things in the back of a mate’s van, you won’t be covered either.

This is why it’s essential to check that the firm you’re moving with is adequately insured. This information should be displayed on the removal company website.

buzzmove vets all its partners to ensure they have Goods In Transit Insurance.  Get up to 6 free quotes from trusted home removal companies here.

Removal truck with a blank back side.

Keep your Things Safe When You Move: Top Tips

Knowing that you have cover in place for your move takes a burden off your shoulders at what is, generally speaking, a fairly burdensome time. But don’t trip up at the finish line.

Here are a few tips for ensuring that your cover does what it’s meant to, so that you can have maximum peace of mind and avoid any surprises down the road.

Don’t pack your belongings yourself

Moving house can be expensive (check out our recent post on removals costs), so it’s natural to look for ways to bring the overall cost down.

However, cutting corners can often lead to a false economy. For example, many people opt to pack their goods themselves, saving on the cost of their removal company doing this for them.

But few people know that, if you pack your items yourself, you likely won’t be covered by your removal company’s Goods in Transit insurance.

Think about it: is that small saving worth compromising your main safety net in the event that something gets damaged?

This is why it’s always best to let your removal company do the packing for you. Or, if you still want to pack yourself, check first with your mover that this won’t invalidate your cover.

If your insurer does insure valuables as part of your home policy, this is often with the understanding that they will be packed by a professional firm. So you can potentially invalidate not just your mover’s cover but also your home insurer’s as well.

Also, there’s more than just an insurance angle at play here …

A good removal company trains its staff to pack belongings safely and securely, minimising the risk of damage to fragile or expensive items. By comparison, most of us don’t really know what we’re doing. Or we leave our packing a little too late and just sling stuff in boxes any old how. Another reason to play safe not sorry and leave it to the professionals!

Check whether you need additional cover

Using a mover with Goods In Transit insurance is a basic requirement of any move. But there are some cases where you might want to consider more protection still. This is because:

However much Goods in Transit insurance your removal company has, it only offers limited liability for any losses and damages. Typically, this means a cap on cover for each item, regardless of its value.

In plain English: if an expensive item gets broken, you may well not be able to claim it all back.

For this reason, don’t rely on your mover’s Goods In Transit insurance in the case of valuable items. And, even if your home insurer covers goods in transit, this commonly excludes valuables like jewelry, watches and written documents.

If you want to ensure your expensive items are 100% out of harm’s way during the move, it’s advisable not to simply rely on any blanket cover, be it provided by your mover or by your home insurer.

We recommend speaking to your home insurer and checking the terms and conditions of the Goods In Transit insurance offered by your mover. There may be additional coverage that you can purchase – but, as ever, this starts with understanding where your gaps are.

Insurance for Goods in Storage

It’s difficult to orchestrate your house move so that you move into your new home on the same day as you vacate your own.

If there’s a gap between moving out and moving in, then your possessions will usually have to spend some time in storage. And you need to protect your goods during this period.

In all likelihood, your storage company will insist you have insurance in place for whatever you’re storing at their facility. You can choose between buying whatever insurance they offer or arrange cover separately (providing them with documentary proof of that cover).

Check the terms and conditions of their offer to understand exactly what’s covered. You should also speak to your existing home insurer (if applicable). They may cover goods in storage but bear in mind that there will likely be exclusions and that there may be a limit to how long you can be covered for.

What about Shipping Things Internationally?

If you’re moving abroad, your goods shipped by sea should be covered by a marine insurance policy. These policies will generally include transit over land at both ends of the journey. However, we recommend always checking the Terms and Conditions to ensure your things are adequately protected.

Compare the best house removal companies using buzzmove. Get up to 6 free quotes from trusted movers.

Council Tax and Moving House: All You Need to Know

Moving home can be stressful, which makes keeping track of all the little details an uphill struggle. So, if council tax hasn’t yet crossed your mind, don’t worry – you are not alone.

Most movers leave updating their council tax till the last minute, along with notifying utilities, and even friends and family, of their change of address. But the sooner the better: notifying your local authority and registering for council tax should be one of the first things on your to-do list.

Council Tax: What is it and What Does it Pay for?

So, what is council tax? It’s a tax placed on all residential properties in England, Wales and Scotland, and generally provides 25% of funding for local public services such as:

  • Fire and Police
  • Public Libraries
  • Street Cleaning and Rubbish Collection
  • Schools, Education and Youth Clubs
  • Parks and Recreational Locations (theatres, leisure centres, town halls)
  • Street Lights
  • Road and Bridge Maintenance
  • Social Service Programs
  • Community Development

Council Tax became compulsory in 1993, replacing the Poll Tax. Typically, all residents over the age of 18 living in the UK pay council tax (the collection rate for 2017-18 was 97.1%). And, for this reason, it’s one of the UK’s most hated household bills.

How is Council Tax Calculated?

The level of council tax each household pays is dependent on three factors:

  1. The value of the property
  2. Your personal circumstances (read about Council Tax Support here)
  3. The budget needs of the council

Based on its value, your property will fall into a given valuation band. The valuation bands are the same in England and Scotland, they have eight bands ranging from A to H (A is the highest and H the lowest). In Wales, there are nine bands, ranging from A to I.

In England and Wales, your property is assigned to a given band based on the selling price (or valuation amount) it had in 1st April 1991. For properties in Wales, it’s taken from the valuation of the property on 1st April 2003. If your property was built after these dates, then its value will reflect the value of similar properties.

If you want to work out what you’ll be paying before your move, then check the value of the property in 1991 (or 2003). You can find the cost of the different bands in your local area on your local council’s website.

Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that all properties are graded using the same criteria and guidelines. So, if you have purchased your home using a “Right to Buy” scheme, it will still be branded on what the value of the property was in 1991 (England and Scotland) or 2003 (Wales).

Who Has to Pay Council Tax?

Unfortunately, council tax is unavoidable if you’re over the age of 18 and living in your own property, rented or owned. A full bill is applicable once there are at least two adults living in the property. So, whether you’re married or cohabiting, you’ll have joint responsibility for paying your bill.

However, if you live on your own, with no-one with over the age of 18 living in the property, you will be given a 25% discount. Additionally:

  • for those cases where no residents are classed as adults, including yourself, you will be awarded a 50% discount
  • if the property is completely unoccupied, is a holiday home or a “second home”, then you will be given a 50% council tax reduction

Who is exempt from council tax?

Residents under the age of 18 represent the largest council-tax exemption. But there are a few others of note:

  • Full-time students, even if over 18
  • Apprentices,  even if over 18
  • Those living, or moving into, Armed Forces accommodation.


Individuals can also receive a reduction on their council tax bill, as they are means tested individuals with disabilities, which is known as Council Tax Support. You can check if you qualify for a reduction on your local council’s website, or by applying here on the GOV.UK.

Council Tax: what happens when I move? 

It’s recommended that you notify your local authority before your move fully starts, to make them aware of the date you will be moving out of your property.

To do this, you need to go to your local council’s website and find the ‘change of address’ page. However, please note that if you currently own the property, and it is going to be vacant, then you’ll still have to pay council tax, albeit at a reduced rate. If you’re moving from rented property, then you’ll not be responsible for paying council tax at that property.

When you inform your local council of your move, you’ll need to tell them where you’re moving from and to, so that they can update their records. It’s advisable that you do this at least one month before your scheduled moving date. You will also have to include new addresses for each adult listed on the council tax bill.

After you’ve informed your local council of the move, they will generally send you a final bill within a month of your moving date. This is a statement of the final amount you owe. And, if you’re in credit, then you can apply to get this refunded.

Moving Within Your Local Authority Area

Even if you’re moving within the same local authority area, you should still cancel your council tax promptly and update the council with your new address.

Typically, most councils will allow you to keep the same direct debit for your final monthly payment and your new council tax bill. Once you move in at your new address, you’ll start paying council tax from the day you arrive – regardless of when the ‘new occupier’ letter arrives. There’s nothing gained by waiting, as the council will simply backdate your payments.

Moving Outside Your Local Authority Area

If you’re moving outside of your local authority district, then you will have to register with your new council and cancel your account with your previous local authority.

Many people forget to cancel their council tax with their existing local authority and end up facing a fine. We covered what you need to do to cancel this (including getting your final bill) above.

To register with your new council, go to the GOV.UK website and/or your new local council’s website.

Remember – if you are moving out of the area, you have two councils to notify about your new address. Don’t get hit with a fine for failing to make them aware of your change of address. Moving house is expensive and stressful enough as it is!

Challenge Your Council Tax Band

This year, recent figures highlighted that the average council tax bill in England and Scotland increased by 5.1%.

So, it could be worth checking if you’re overpaying. This might be because your property’s 1991 value has been calculated incorrectly. When council tax came into full effect in 1991 (England and Scotland) and 2003 (Wales), this valuation process was somewhat rushed, in what has been referred to as “second-gear valuations”.

It’s possible that up to 400,000 homes in England and Wales are in the wrong council tax band. And if you genuinely feel you’re in the wrong band, then you do have the option of challenging it.

“You might be able to challenge your Council Tax band if you have evidence that suggests the band is wrong.” – GOV.UK

To challenge your council tax band, you will need to arrange for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), to revalue your property.

It generally takes around two months for them to return with a decision. You will need to check your property’s band on the Council Tax Valuation list (England and Wales), or the Assessor Association website (Scotland). As stated by GOV.UK, you will have supply evidence. This includes:

  • Addresses of similar properties in your area with lower tax bands (up to 5 properties). They must be the same age, size, style, layout and type. For example, if you live in a detached property, then you cannot supply a semi.
  • Evidence of the purchase price and the dates of the sale.

Once the VOA have given you their decision, you may still challenge this if you aren’t happy with the outcome.

To do this, you must supply further evidence to support your challenge and make the appeal within three months of the first decision.

You will have to continue your normal council tax payments during the formal challenge process. However, if the challenge works out in your favour, you will be issued with a new council tax bill and refunded any over-payments based on your new council tax band.

Moving out Check List

We hope this has helped you understand the importance of dealing with your council tax as soon as you know you’re moving home. But this doesn’t mean you should neglect other bits of moving-house admin.

Here’s a handy checklist of other people you might want to notify once you’ve got council tax out of the way:

  • Your employer for their records
  • The DVLA (driving licence folks)
  • Your bank
  • The doctor’s (you may have to change GP)
  • Home/contents insurer
  • Car insurer
  • Utilities, including your water, electricity and gas providers
  • HMRC
  • TV Licensing – check out our recent post for all you need to know

The more admin you can get out of the way – or at least accounted for – before your move, the less stressful things will be on the big day!

Looking to move? Compare the best house removal companies using buzzmove. Get up to 6 free quotes from trusted movers.

Removal Costs: How Much Will Your House Move Cost?

Everybody loves a checklist, right? Whether you’re moving for the first time or you consider yourself an experienced mover, there are seemingly endless removal costs to keep in mind when leaving familiar soil behind.

It’s important to remember that no house move will be the same as the other, so determining exactly what you think you’ll need to support your move is a great first step towards finalising your removal costs.

We’ve outlined the different services required for a smooth move in a mission to make things a little less overwhelming for you.

Removal Costs: price calculations

Working out each individual price can be a heavy duty on top of all the other things you’re already worried about. Below are two things to remember when prices are being calculated:

  1. Volume of items – the number of items you want to take with you will impact the removals quotation you receive
  2. Distance of the move – the further you look to move, the higher the cost

So, how much do removal companies charge for their services? The below outlines UK costs for moving up to 10 miles away:

  • The average cost of moving from a 1-2 bedroom house is £300
  • For a 3-bedroom house, it’s £450
  • If it’s a 4-bedroom house, it’s £680
  • And for a 5-bedroom house, you’re looking at £870 and above

You should expect to see these costs rise the further you’re looking to move, but to summarise: for a typical move, your removal company will charge you between £300 and £900.

So, here are a few ways you can reduce removal costs and hopefully put some of that excess cash into your wonderful new home instead!

Pre-move assessment

To understand the core of your removal costs, a good way to start is getting quoted by removal companies (you’ll want at least 3 to compare). Typically, removals companies send a surveyor or ‘removals assessor’ to visit your property to evaluate all the possessions that you need removing.

As mentioned above in this article, removal quotes are determined based on the volume of items that need transporting, so it’s important that somebody can come and view exactly what needs to be taken. Any additional items needing to be moved will incur additional removal costs and even delays – so it’s a good idea to get everything in order before moving day.

Family moving into their new house

Having a surveyor from a moving company come to your house can be inconvenient and intrusive. This is why many people nowadays choose to do their removals survey remotely, by video.

If you do your move through buzzmove, we can take care of the survey at a time of your choosing (all you need is your mobile) and provide you with up to 6 moving quotes.

Top tips:

  • Keep / don’t keep – Notify the assessor of any items that you’re not intending to take with you e.g. if you’re planning to get rid of that tired old sofa, let them know in case this is accidentally added to your quote (yikes!).
  • Triple-check each quote you receive before you finalise your choice of Removal Company. It’s better to be safe than sorry; a seemingly bargainous quote may not actually include something that’s necessary for your move!
  • Avoid Fridays and Bank Holidays – Book your removal date as early as possible and remember that being flexible on your dates can sometimes save you money.
  • Clear unwanted possessions – Moving house is the perfect opportunity to clear out any unwanted possessions, and this will also reduce removal costs.
  • Additional services – Removal companies offer a variety of services, so if you’d like them to do more than transport your furniture, ensure you verify the cost with the assessor. There are additional costs to consider.

Removals insurance

When moving house, it’s a great idea to check with your home insurance company to see if they’ll cover you being moved by a removal company.

If not, you should ensure that the mover you are using includes Goods In Transit insurance. It’s important to note that this insurance only covers you for your goods while they’re in transit and will normally provide a fixed level of cover per item regardless of the original value.

In some cases, removal companies will offer you more removals insurance cover based on a percentage of the value of the items being moved. This will be at an additional cost.

If you’re taking a DIY approach to packing, ask your removal company if you’re still covered by their removals insurance. Many insurers won’t cover you for loss or damage if you’ve taken packing into your own hands.

See also, our recent post on how to effectively insure your home move.

Packing

Removal companies offer a variety of packing and unpacking services at an additional cost:

  • Packing service – If you don’t want to pack your items yourself (we get it), the removal company can take care of this.
  • Unpacking service – Most companies will only unpack onto flat surfaces and leave the ‘putting away’ up to you. However, it isn’t uncommon for removal companies to place your boxes and furniture into your preferred rooms. It’s worth noting, though, that this service is not usually included in any quotation and will normally be charged as an extra.
  • Packing materials – Sometimes these are included in your packing-service but, if you’re packing yourself, you may need to purchase these materials yourself. Check out our post on sourcing packing boxes for your move.
  • Crates – If you have any fragile items, antiques or electronic goods of which you do not have the original packaging, it’s a good idea to let the removal company know. On occasion, items in this category can be safer to move in a purpose-built wooden crate. Make sure to take this into account when reviewing your quotation.

Couple relax after nailing their removal costs

Compare the best house removal companies using buzzmove. Get up to 6 free quotes from trusted movers.

Specialised Services

More often than not, removals teams require specialist equipment during a move to fulfil their work. This can add to your overall costs. For example:

  • Fragile packing – An extra handling charge might be required if you have fragile items like antiques, fine arts or a large instrument such as a piano.
  • Third-party services – Such additional services can include un-plumbing washing machines, disconnecting your dishwasher, taking down curtain rails and lifting up carpets. You can request that these be included in your move but they are not performed by the removal crew.
  • Dismantling and re-assembling – If any items need to be dismantled prior to your move and re-assembled at the other end, you should check with your removal company if you’ll be charged for this. You should also confirm if you are expected to dismantle and reassemble these items before and after your move (you’ll want to reduce delays).
  • Specialised equipment – If you have any possessions that need to be raised or lifted, a hoist, tail lift or cherry-picker lift would be required. E.g. any large items that can only be moved through an upper-floor window.

Access

The removal company needs to access the front door of your current property and your new house with their vehicles. It’s important to consider the following factors, which could result in additional removal costs:

  • Right of entry – Small lanes or low bridges on approach to your property will determine what size of vehicle is needed.
  • No lift – If your property is above ground floor and there is no lift, this will usually require additional labour and is definitely something to flag.
  • Ferries or toll roads – If necessary, check with your removal company that these costs have been included in your quote.
  • Parking restrictions – If parking is limited outside your property, most removal companies will expect you to arrange parking permits for the day of the move, as this cost is not normally included in your quote.

Cancellations / Late-Key charges

Due to unforeseen circumstances, you might not be able to access your new property at the agreed completion time, so it’s worth considering the following points:

  • Cancellation policies – double-check your removal company’s cancellation policies. Many removal companies will require you to supply a deposit for a proportion of the removal costs before you can book your move date. It’s sensible to check your quotation Ts & Cs to see if you might forfeit a portion of your deposit due to cancelling your confirmed date at short notice.
  • Late key charges / waivers – if your removal company has to wait a long time to start unpacking after arriving at the new property, you can sometimes be charged for this. Most movers offer what is known as a “late key waiver”, which gives you peace of mind in case things don’t go to plan.

Storage services

If you’re not going to be moving into your property straight away, then you’ll need to ensure that your possessions are kept safe and secure.

Many removal companies have their own storage services and temporary storage-in-transit facilities which can be included in the cost of your quote. Some removal companies can recommend a local secure self-storage or will even take your things to a storage company of your choice.

Compare the best house removal companies using buzzmove. Get up to 6 free quotes from trusted movers.

Your TV Licence: Moving Home, Change of Address, Cancellations

The old saying goes that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. However, when applied to the modern world, this notion swiftly becomes archaic and ignores the other, more prominent certainties in our day-to-day living, like freaking out about your TV licence when you change address.

The TV Licence. That one bill that – on the face of it – doesn’t seem important, but lingers over you throughout your entire change of address. Despite your best attempts to put it to the back of your mind, the TV licence conundrum looms overhead, threatening to take you to court if you do not get it sorted.

Moving house is stressful enough as it is. All the boxes, mortgage calculations and re-rooting of your beloved possessions are enough to put a strain on anyone. But one thing that can be looked after straightforwardly is your TV Licence.

Now, you may not think that getting a TV licence is the most pressing issue when it comes to the rigmarole of changing your address. But those two weeks without the internet are going to be desolate, and the one thing that is going to pull you through it is your television. Besides, who wants to live a life without Match of The Day, Strictly Come Dancing and EastEnders?

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to your TV Licence and changing address. Sadly, when you decide to move house, your TV licence doesn’t automatically pack up its bags and come along with you. Instead, it will stay where it is registered and you will need to sign into your account and update your address before it moves on as well.

However, the good news is that this is extremely simple. You don’t have to cancel your licence and sign up again. Just log in, provide your licence number and change your details – it’s that easy.

Of course, everyone’s moving situation is different and the above may not apply to you. But don’t fear, there is more than likely an easy solution to your TV Licence worries.

Say, for example, you live in shared accommodation and you are moving out – what’s the deal with the TV Licence then? Well, if you’re the TV Licence holder and you are changing your address to somewhere that already has a licence, you can transfer your TV Licence to someone else who is living at the property that you are vacating. To do so, you will need to write to TV Licensing and request that they assist in the transfer of the licence, the address is as follows: TV Licensing, Darlington DL98 1TL.

Due to rising rents, living in shared accommodation is becoming an increasingly common way of living, and it can be confusing working out who should be paying for the TV Licence. In this situation, it must be noted that, unless stated otherwise in the tenancy agreement, the tenant is always responsible for paying the TV Licence for the property. That said, there are a couple of variations on this.

If you are signed onto a joint tenancy agreement – whereby you signed for the house as a joint group – the licence applies for the entire property and communal areas. However, if each tenant in the property has their own individual tenancy agreement, they would each need a separate TV Licence for their own room.

If for whatever reason, you decide that you no longer require a TV Licence, it’s simple to cancel your subscription and you may also be issued a refund.

There’s a host of reasons to cancel your licence, whether it be because you’re moving abroad, into a house that already has a licence or because you have taken the decision that you don’t want to watch the BBC, record live TV or watch any television online. Whatever your reason, you can submit your cancellation and request a refund.

If you have paid your licence in full or you are paying via Direct Debit, you will need to use the contact form on the TV Licencing website to submit your cancellation. From here, you will be asked to submit your reasoning for cancelling the licence and to provide the address that the licence is issued to. If you pay via Direct Debit, you will also need to cancel this with your bank. If you pay your licence with a TV Licencing payment card, however, you will need to call them to go through your cancellation.

When cancelling your TV Licence, you may also be eligible for a refund. To be eligible to receive a refund, you will need to prove that you won’t be using your licence before it expires and that your licence still has at least one month left to run on it.

To submit a refund request, you will be asked to fill out a short form and to provide evidence to support your request. TV Licencing will then look at your request and decide whether you are eligible for a refund or not. All refunds are calculated in unused months, meaning that you could get a refund for between one and 11 months, depending on how long your licence has left to run.

So there you have it: how to deal with the TV Licence conundrum when changing your address. It may seem like a little issue in the grand scheme of things, but when left to manifest over time, it can end up being a much bigger problem. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Sorting out your TV licence is simple and it’s something that can be tied up and forgotten about in just a few clicks. Besides, the TV has the power to transform your house into a home, so you really don’t want to be left without one, do you?

Compare the best house removal companies using buzzmove. Get up to 6 free quotes from trusted movers.

See how Adam is creating a better experience for your customers…

Our most recent addition to the buzzsurvey family is Adam Lessem.
Adam Lessem is a product manager who comes with a wealth of experience in building platforms and services that are driven by what clients want and need. Prior to joining buzzmove, he spent 3 years at a tech startup, heading up the product department and spearheading all new product developments.

Adam has a proven track record of leading internal and external designers and developers, through development to testing and deployment to ensure a smooth development cycle. Adam will be responsible for developing and prioritising the roadmap for buzzsurvey and buzzmove going forward.

As a key part of his product management process, Adam actively works with clients to develop new functionality, seeking to improve the user’s experience. He will be looking to reach out to clients over the coming weeks, as he ramps up our operations, to collect feedback and thoughts from clients regarding where they feel the product should be going.

In his words “the video surveying functionality of buzzsurvey are merely the tip of the iceberg when we look at the potential of the value add we could provide our clients, I am keen to speak to clients and look at what other areas we could help them digitise and simplify their lives. Because a simpler toolkit means more time spent on making their companies grow.”