All relevant papers have been signed and contracts exchanged. Nothing now stands in the way of your move to a new property, except the not-inconsiderable work that goes into packing up your old home and getting everything in place for moving day. So the concerns of the people who will be moving in might be at the very furthest, most shadowy recesses of your mind. But it’s worth bringing them into the foreground because just a few small gestures can make their move (and their settling-in process) that bit easier. And there’s every reason to hope that the old owners of your new property may be doing some of those things for you. But just what are the most helpful things you can do to ease things for the incomers? We’ve given the matter some thought and arrived at a series of suggestions which, of course, don’t have to be done to the point of perfection, or even in the same order that we’ve listed them. But each of them will make things better for the people coming after you.
Setting up the forwarding of your post doesn’t take more than minutes and, better still, can be done well in advance. Royal Mail redirection is mutually beneficial for you and the new owners. You won’t be relying on them to forward your mail and they won’t be tasked with having to do so. It’s especially important if you use your home address to receive sensitive documents which, if they fell into the wrong hands, could leave you vulnerable to fraud or ID theft. You can set up forwarding online. To get ready, just make sure you have the names and birth dates of everyone in your household plus the addresses (including postcodes) of both your new and old home.
Many people will do this as a matter of course, but sometimes we’re so caught up the vagaries of moving house that we can be forgiven for overlooking it – provided we do it eventually. The new occupants don’t want to be greeted by the dismal sight of a house that hasn’t been fully cleared out and cleaned. Whether it’s bins heaving with rubbish, preventing the new owners for unpacking because they have no space for their own refuse, or any form mess, dirt or squalor, such as filthy hairs and limescale in the bath, the new owners are going to have to get to grips with it when they’d much rather be unpacking. Leaving the new owners anything other than a sparkling, empty space is selfish and uncivilised. The good news is that this task is easy to accomplish, especially once all your belongings are in a van so you’re not having to clean around furniture or other obstacles. If you’ve already got too much on your plate, you can pass the job onto your usual cleaner or, in some cases, your moving company’s cleaning service. Ideally, the cleaning should encompass everything, right down to light-switches and taps. You can ensure the property bins are empty for the next owners by taking your final rubbish bags direct to the local dump.
As well as making sure you leave each and every last set of keys (including electronic fobs for garages), it’s vital to gather any sets of keys you’ve disseminated over the years. If a neighbour, family member, cleaner or local shop has a set of keys, it’s important to make sure these are returned – the new owners should not be left in the unsettling position of moving into a house to which there are keys in someone else’s possession. And don’t forget the additional keys it’s sometimes easy to forget; those miniature keys that open bathroom windows, for example, or keys to garden sheds. Everything should be brought together and left in one place for the new owners, with an indication of which key goes with which lock, whether in note form or via labels.
Your new homeowners should be given all relevant documentation for the property. For example, if you’ve had work done on windows or the roof, which work could well be guaranteed for a certain number of years, then make sure to leave behind the documents that prove this. Without it, that guarantee evaporates. The same goes for any appliances that are staying in the old property, except in this instance the documentation should also include instruction manuals. Don’t forget items like the manual explaining how the thermostat works. Documents could be left in a folder somewhere very visible, perhaps on the work surfaces in a kitchen, for example.
During your final months in the old property, you have the perfect opportunity to keep an eye on your plumbing, gas, heating, electricity and so on, in case any of it needs repair or maintenance. The new owners will be disheartened in the event of moving in only to discover that there is a fault with the utilities that wasn’t disclosed to them during the buying stage. So even if it’s a minor problem that hasn’t yet reached the point of being prohibitively bad, it’s best to deal with it before you leave. If, for some reason, you can’t, then let the incoming owners know about it. To make sure nothing gets forgotten, you can refer to the TA10 Fittings and Contents form. This is the document you use to specify exactly what is being sold along with the house. Form in hand, you can check plugs, sockets, switches, light fittings, TV aerials, satellite dishes, radiators, burglar alarms and so on, and make sure everything’s in good working order (or else arrange maintenance if anything is starting to go wrong).
The task of deconstructing each room in your old home means that, should there be any small damages here and there (eg a chip in the skirting board or, quite commonly, the holes left behind when you take down a painting), they’ll quite quickly be brought to your attention. So now’s the ideal time to sort these out, whether they just require a tiny lick of paint, some sealant, a little plastering or a bit of Polyfilla. If time isn’t on your side, then the next best thing to do is to make sure the incoming inhabitants are apprised of these details before they move in. If you’re going to tackle the job yourself, however, then once more the TA10 form can come in helpful, identifying potential trouble spots for you to look at: inbuilt wardrobes, carpets, lampshades, curtain rails and the like.
This can be accomplished either in the form of a home guidebook which you could leave out on a window sill or work surface, or instead in an email. The point is to make sure the new owners have all the necessarily information about the house and its quirks and idiosyncrasies. There may, for example, be a stiff or awkward lock somewhere on the property which requires a certain approach to operate; explain this to the new owners and you’ll spare them hours of frustration. Anything you can think of that might seem obvious to you, because you’ve lived with it for years, but which could easily elude newcomers, should be included.
This comes near the end of our list because it’s not a disaster if you forget it. But that’s not to say it’s not important. There are additional thoughtful gestures you can make as you depart, which will differ from house to house and person to person. If you were keen DIY or redecorating fans, you may well have accumulated various types of paint, offcuts of flooring, spare tiles etc. These are unlikely to be of use in your new home, but could come in exceptionally useful to the new owners. So they’re the one thing that should be disregarded when you’re cleaning and decluttering; instead, leave them behind (perhaps stored neatly in the cellar or a utility room) with an explanation. Anything you can’t use but which your new owners can should be included. Finally, is there anything else that might help the new owners in their first few hours after arrival, whether it’s a bottle of milk in the fridge or an unused bar of soap in the bathroom? If you’ve got a spare moment, then leave them one or two items to help them through the first day.
This optional extra comes last because it could be considered excessively ingratiating. But if you’re only moving locally and it’s possible you might have further interactions with the new owners, it could be argued to be a shrewd move. A little housewarming present left behind can go some way towards sweetening your relationship with them. In the midst of moving house, it’s not a gesture that deserves time-consuming deliberation; instead, perhaps just opt for something easy and which requires little thought – candles, a plant or a scent diffuser are all perfectly adequate choices.