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Gazumping by removals! How to avoid your firm moving a higher bidder

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I’ve heard about people moving home who are having their removal company ditch them at the last minute. 

This is because the firms are being offered more money elsewhere despite already being booked. 

What can I do to prevent this, and ensure that the removal firm I’ve booked turns up on my moving day as agreed?

Gazumping by removals? Some removal firms may discard your booking for a more profitable one

Gazumping by removals? Some removal firms may discard your booking for a more profitable one

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth replies:  There are some unreliable removal companies failing to move people on their moving day as agreed.

It can create all sorts of issues, not least that their furniture and belongings remain in a property that they no longer own – once the sale is completed on the moving day.

The problem is that the removals industry remains largely unregulated, so anyone can set themselves up as a man and van removals firm. Always opt for a reputable firm that is a member of the British Association of Removers (BAR).

Anthony Ward Thomas, of Ward Thomas Removals and The Master Removers Group, says: Gazumping on removals happens whenever the housing market is really busy.

The problem comes when people search for removals firms on the internet and opt for one of the generic names that head the list of results. They sound like removals firms but are actually internet brokerage businesses that farm out moves to the highest bidder.

You fill out your details and removals firms bid to move you. You think you have secured a firm until a more profitable job comes along and they bid on that one. If they are successful, they discard your move and you are left in the lurch, often on moving day.

There is no governance of these sites – anyone can set themselves up as a man and van removals firm – so the best thing to do is avoid them completely. 

They are not accountable. If you are ‘lucky’ enough to have your removals firm turn up, you may find that the van is usually used for fruit or fish deliveries but was standing idle and the guy who owns it thought he’d turn his hand to removals.

Always opt for a reputable firm which should be a member of the British Association of Removers (BAR). Ask friends for recommendations and make sure they are a five-star Trustpilot operator. People can be gullible when it comes to the internet and common sense evaporates. Removals is one of those last industries that cannot be carried out by computers – you need men and lorries or vans so opt for those who do this all the time.

HOW TO PICK A REMOVALS FIRM

When choosing a mover, Ian Studd of the British Association of Removers, recommends consumers take the following steps: 

  • Carry out proper due diligence on who they may be inviting in to their home. BAR Membership can be verified by clicking on the TSI logo which will be found on members’ own websites
  • ·Ask for references and then take them up
  • ·Consumers should research a potential service provider’s website to look for feedback reports, which in the case of a BAR Member company can be found on the portal reference line
  • ·If they have the opportunity, then visit the service provider’s premises to experience first-hand how they operate and if possible speak to staff and take opinion from other clients which is always useful.
  • Always get a minimum of two quotations and for preference three. Quotes must be considered on a like-for-like basis (ie is the service provision described exactly the same) and not simply on the price at the bottom of the page
  • Check the terms and conditions for potential additional charges and when they may be incurred (a bona fide professional remover will always explain this to you as part of their quotation process)
  • Allow sufficient time to allow for all of the above to happen and a formal contract offer to be made and accepted

 

Ian Studd, of the British Association of Removers, said: The key point here is that the consumer must absolutely allow enough time to complete proper due diligence on their preferred service provider and to confirm the move date(s) at least seven to 10 days in advance.

They should also consider this service as a value proposition and not simply a commodity purchase and enter into a formal, legally binding, contract with their chosen provider.

The removals industry remains largely unregulated and so it is important for the consumer to be educated in how to choose a mover. Inevitably and understandably price will be an issue, but it should never be the only issue, and the choice of service provider should be considered against service levels, consumer protections and price.

What matters the most, and costs the least, is having a safe and successful outcome. What is absolutely true is that one size most definitely does not fit all, rather each move is an individual experience that is determined by a unique set of circumstances and so any solution or move plan should be tailored to meet the specific needs of the task in hand.

Looking to reduce their expenses, many consumers will enlist family or friends to move their belongings, or look for cheap removals services on social media. Unfortunately most such service providers will fall into that ‘unregulated’ category and will offer no consumer protections in the event that something goes wrong.

There is nothing to stop a person buying a transit van today and calling themselves a removals expert tomorrow, operating entirely in the black-market economy. One associated risk in following this course of action is that scrimping on removals can leave the consumer at risk of being ‘gazumped’ at short notice by the so called mover if they find a more profitable piece of work for the date in question. Sadly, there are also many examples of items being damaged or stolen in transactions of this type.

With regards to the professional removal service companies, there is no question that they are under enormous pressure at the moment to cater for the volume of demand that we are experiencing. That said, if all parties in the move chain – including conveyancers, solicitors and consumers – apply a degree of common sense to the process, then that demand can and will be fulfilled.

The key issue here is to apply reasonable time parameters to exchange and completion of contract, which would then allow sufficient advanced notification of confirmed move dates, which in turn allows the chosen mover the opportunity to schedule workloads more efficiently. 

It is also worth mentioning that moves do not always have to take place on a Friday, the burden could definitely be eased considerably by scheduling completions to take place on any one of the other days in the week. All of which said, some consumers will inevitably pursue the DiY route as their preferred option.

However, when contracted with a professional removals company, you can be assured that the mover will have scheduled the move programme to account for all necessary time parameters, such as needing to vacate the property by a given deadline to comply with contractual requirements, and also that fully trained and qualified operatives will be allocated to your move programme.

Selecting a professional company to complete the move will ensure that a legally binding contract will have been formed through the offering and acceptance of a quotation, and so the mover is obliged to ensure that the contract is fulfilled.

The combination of these factors will deliver a more efficient and much safer outcome than would be the case if an unregulated company, or a ‘DIY’ approach is taken.

The removals market has been pretty flat out since June last year with the more normal seasonal ‘peaks and troughs’ of activity having been almost completely levelled out. Our members have reported being under constant pressure to deal with the demand, both administrational and operational, with all staff working long hours to fulfil their contractual obligations to the consumer.

If there is one thing that would help to alleviate some of that pressure and risk of default, it would be for consumers to allow enough time to carefully select their chosen provider and to confirm the move date far. By doing this far enough in advance, the mover has sufficient notice to allocate the required resources to the task in hand.

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Couple who bought coach house reveal transformation on George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations 

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A couple who bought a 19th-century coach house for £284,000 reveal their transformation of the property into a stunning family home on tonight’s episode of George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations. 

Childhood sweethearts Laura and Adrian, from Staffordshire, sold their own home, moved into a caravan and began renovating the derelict building into an Insta-worthy three bedroom house, with an added granny annex for Adrian’s parents Andrew and Elinor.

The couple, who appear on the Channel 4 programme tonight, initially wanted to renovate the 900 sq ft property within a £350,000 budget. 

But the build was hampered by difficulties from the outset, including delays with planning permission and the Covid-19 crisis, pushing their bill up to £450,000.   

BEFORE: Laura and Adrian, from Staffordshire, reveal their unrecognisable transformation of a 19th-century coach house into a stunning family home on George Clarke's Remarkable Renovations tonight. Pictured, the home property before the build

BEFORE: Laura and Adrian, from Staffordshire, reveal their unrecognisable transformation of a 19th-century coach house into a stunning family home on George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations tonight. Pictured, the home property before the build

AFTER: At the end of the build the couple unveil their stunning contemporary home which oozes charm and character. The living space blends modern style with traditional features, keeping the building's style alive

AFTER: At the end of the build the couple unveil their stunning contemporary home which oozes charm and character. The living space blends modern style with traditional features, keeping the building’s style alive

BEFORE: Having been used as a coach-house for other people's caravans for the past decade, the building is in poor condition with rotten timbers and mismatched brickwork at the start of the project. Above, a room that becomes the living room

BEFORE: Having been used as a coach-house for other people’s caravans for the past decade, the building is in poor condition with rotten timbers and mismatched brickwork at the start of the project. Above, a room that becomes the living room 

AFTER: The couple went £100,000 over budget on the build after unexpected costs sprung up but were delighted with the final result, including this stylish living room complete with pops of colour and plush furniture

AFTER: The couple went £100,000 over budget on the build after unexpected costs sprung up but were delighted with the final result, including this stylish living room complete with pops of colour and plush furniture 

The property is situated in the grounds of what was the Cliff Hall estate in the village of Kingsbury, near Birmingham.  

When George first met the couple in June 2019, they had already been living in a caravan on the site for 18 months in order to save money.   

Laura, a project manager in forensics, revealed the family have already ‘put a lot of effort’ into the building given it was originally intended to store horses and has been completely empty for 10 years.

Having been used as a coach-house for other people’s caravans for the past decade, the building was in poor condition at the start of the project, with rotten timbers and mismatched brickwork. 

But it was ripe for renovation, with Adrian and Laura seeing it’s potential and pipping a developer to the post to buy it for £284,000. 

KITCHEN BEOFRE: The couple appear on the Channel 4 programme tonight as they reveal their hopes to transform the 900 sq ft property with a budget of just £350,000. Above, one of the derelict rooms with crumbling and uneven floors before

KITCHEN BEOFRE: The couple appear on the Channel 4 programme tonight as they reveal their hopes to transform the 900 sq ft property with a budget of just £350,000. Above, one of the derelict rooms with crumbling and uneven floors before

KITCHEN AFTER: Features including the exposed brick walls and wooden beams add a touch of character to the space, which is otherwise kitted out as a modern home perfect for family living

KITCHEN AFTER: Features including the exposed brick walls and wooden beams add a touch of character to the space, which is otherwise kitted out as a modern home perfect for family living

Laura and Adrian end up living in a caravan on the building site for three years in order to get the project finished - but they insist it has all been worth it

Laura and Adrian end up living in a caravan on the building site for three years in order to get the project finished – but they insist it has all been worth it 

The ground floor had two large spaces, with two small rooms squashed into the middle. Meanwhile upstairs is a wide open space.

Laura and Adrian planned to build a modern timber frame inside the old brick shell, allowing them to configure the space exactly to their needs. They also wanted to build a self-contained two bed annex connected to the main house, where Adrian’s parents Andrew and Elinor will live.

Andrew says: ‘It was one Saturday morning they came up and they bought pictures of this place they’d looked at. 

‘In the past, we considered a wild pipe dream of building  something as a family. They said, “If you sold your house and we sold ours and we steal your pension, we could do this”.’

Meanwhile Elinor jokes: ‘They said can we have your money basically.’

Understandably, the couple have high expectations, Elinor tells George: ‘I’m not compromising on kitchens and bathrooms.’

Meanwhile Andrew, who uses a mobility scooter, says the property will need to be on one level. 

The family carefully stockpiled everything from the demolition of the barn, including over 70,000 bricks, to save money.   

With planning permission finally granted, and the family aimed to get everyone in in 10 months, enlisting local contractors to help. 

They quickly spent £15,000 reinforcing the current foundations and pouring concrete into the building’s floor.    

HALLWAY AFTERWARDS: The stunning space is flooded with light, while Adrian's clever design and craftsmanship brings together contemporary elements with the traditional features of the barn (pictured, the hallway)

HALLWAY AFTERWARDS: The stunning space is flooded with light, while Adrian’s clever design and craftsmanship brings together contemporary elements with the traditional features of the barn (pictured, the hallway) 

However it was not long before they feel their budget dwindling, with Adrian confessing he had to let go of his local builders.

He says: ‘It’s a shame I haven’t got another £50,000 to let the guys crack on. Not at the rate they’re on. The problem was never going to be getting someone to build it, it was going to be me doing as much as I can to get my hands on.’

Meanwhile Laura confesses: ‘We’ve been here so long, it’s like what’s another few months to get it right.’

Two months later, winter arrives in Tamworth and living in a caravan begins to take it’s toll on the family.

Elinor says: ‘Caravan is getting a bit tired now, it’s looking a bit worn. It’d be nice to have space.’

Meanwhile Andrew adds: ‘Things  are going reasonably well, but things are looking a little bit tight. Adrian has been busy – it’s a compromise between how much time he’s at work and being justified to get others in on the budget.’

MASTER BEDROOM AFTERWARDS: The couple build timber beams into the property, creating a stunning barn style master bedroom. The luxurious space is a welcome change after months living in a caravan

MASTER BEDROOM AFTERWARDS: The couple build timber beams into the property, creating a stunning barn style master bedroom. The luxurious space is a welcome change after months living in a caravan

With the budget and schedule slipping, Adrian is doing more and more of the work himself.  

Andrew jokes: ‘Time is a big problem,  we said it would be finished by Christmas…but we didn’t specify which Christmas that would be.’

By February 2020, Laura is also feeling the strain of caravan life – having lived in one for over two years.

She says: ‘It is hard work. these past few months, we’ve really struggled with the weather. It’s the mud more than anything.’

Meanwhile the mother-of-two admits she feels the burden of building a home for her in-laws as well as her own dream property, saying: ‘I’m really lucky, we got on really well anyway but we’re feeling a huge sense of responsibility towards them. Basically they’ve invested everything they’ve got in us and the vision we had.’

She continues: ‘I’ve known Adrian since I was about eight and we’ve been together for 17 years. We lost Adrian’s brother a few years ago and it makes you re-evaluate things and you realise how important it is to have family around you. It puts a different perspective on life. This has bought us closer together for sure.’

One month later, the family were knocked sideways as the pandemic shut the site down. 

The couple ended up spending £100,000 over their initial budget in order to complete the stunning family home for their children and in-laws. Pictured, the dining space leads on from the kitchen and has an industrial-style picnic table

The couple ended up spending £100,000 over their initial budget in order to complete the stunning family home for their children and in-laws. Pictured, the dining space leads on from the kitchen and has an industrial-style picnic table 

Elinor tells the camera: ‘We’re doing okay, it’d be nice to move in. We haven’t all fallen out completely but there’s  been some arguments.’  

Laura and Adrian struggled to get building supplies amid the pandemic, with Laura saying: ‘It’s reordered the schedule of things. Some of the busy jobs we’d been hoping would happen, just haven’t’ been able to.’

By July 2020, the building was finally watertight. But the budget was gone. ‘A family member has managed to lend us £50,000…but there’s only £4,000 of that left,’ Adrian says on the programme.

‘But there is another £10,000 that will get the build done…It’s my mother’s own secret stash that was going to pay for her kitchen just to get the house finished.’

George says there was a ‘massive challenge’ to get the family into the building within two months and admits he is concerned about how much work there is still to be done. 

Meanwhile Laura and Adrian also create cosy single bedrooms for their two sons, which are joined together with a mezzanine for the children to play on (pictured)

Meanwhile Laura and Adrian also create cosy single bedrooms for their two sons, which are joined together with a mezzanine for the children to play on (pictured) 

However two months later, the couple unveiled their stunning contemporary home which oozes charm and character. 

The living space blends modern style with traditional features, keeping the building’s style alive.

Upstairs, the space is divided to give the children their own mirror image bedrooms with a mezzanine between the two.

Meanwhile the gorgeous master bedroom acts as the perfect upgrade from caravan living.

And downstairs, the adjourning annex for Adrian’s parents is an elegant new-build structure connected to the main house with a glazed walkway.

The couple confess the three year long build has been ‘more than worth it’, with Adrian saying: ‘I think we’re going to be around £450,000 build cost. I’ve done it for a reason, I’ve done it for the family. That’s what it’s about.’ 

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Dusty Hill, bassist for rock band ZZ Top, dies aged 72

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Dusty Hill, bassist for rock band ZZ Top, has died at the age of 72.

Hill, who had recently suffered a hip injury, died in his sleep, as confirmed by a statement on Instagram from band-mates Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard.

“We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, TX,” it read. “We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the ‘Top’. We will forever be connected to that ‘Blues Shuffle in C.’ You will be missed greatly, amigo.”

His recent injury had meant that Hill was forced to miss performances as part of the band’s summer tour. There have been no further details on cause of death.

ZZ Top’s first single was released in 1969 after the demise of Moving Sidewalks, the band that Gibbons had previously formed. Their first concert, with Hill included, was in 1970 and the year after their first album was released.

The band would go on to find fame with 15 albums and were best known for hits including 1983’s Gimme All Your Lovin’ and 1984’s Legs. In 1984, Hill also accidentally shot himself, something he remained lighthearted about years later.

“My first reaction was ‘s**t!’ and then ‘ouch!’ ” he said in a 2016 interview. “I couldn’t believe I’d done something so stupid. To this day, I don’t know how I could do it.”

As well as playing bass guitar, Hill also played keyboard and sung backing and lead vocals for the band. They were all inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

He made appearances in Back to the Future Part III and Deadwood and also played himself in King of the Hill.

“I don’t believe in regrets at all,” Hill also said in 2016. “What’s the point? There are things I’ve done that, if I had my time all over again, I would do differently – or not at all. But I am the sort of person who, once something’s done, just brushes it away and gets on with life.”

Tributes are coming in from the industry, including from Flea who referred to Hill as “a true rocker” and Go-Gos member Kathy Valentine who tweeted that Hill is “a Texas icon”. – Guardian

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Would you forget holiday lets and rent a staycation home for 6 months?

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Have you been trying to book a family staycation in Britain this summer only to be met with either a lack of availability or prices that feel more suitable to being flown on a private jet to the Caribbean?

Demand for holiday lets in England has soared amid the pandemic and confusion about travel overseas restrictions.

It has led to reports of families being quoted tens of thousands of pounds for a week’s stay in this country, with one father-of-three saying he was quoted more than £70,000 for a week’s stay in Cornwall for himself and his family. 

So is there a solution that enables you to get away and enjoy a series of holidays in this country for less, if you take advantage as much as possible?

We took a look at what it costs to rent a property for six months and whether this could be cheaper than booking several individual family holidays during that time. 

Demand for holiday rentals in areas such as St Austell in Cornwall (pictured) have increased amid the pandemic, pushing up prices

Demand for holiday rentals in areas such as St Austell in Cornwall (pictured) have increased amid the pandemic, pushing up prices

If you are going to rent a property to use as a frequent holiday let, there are issues you need to research such as whether it is fully furnished

If you are going to rent a property to use as a frequent holiday let, there are issues you need to research such as whether it is fully furnished

If you are able to arrange things quickly and sign a six-month shorthold tenancy agreement in the next few weeks, there may even be time to squeeze in a fortnight’s holiday in August, then another break later this year during half term, and even a week or two at Christmas.

However, if it proves too late to arrange something this year, perhaps you might decide it may be worth looking into it for next year and seeing what types of properties can be rented where and for what price.

For those thinking they may still be able to largely work from home this time next year, this could allow a family to spend the bulk of the summer holidays by the seaside – and invite down friends and family as guests.

There are obviously factors that you need to watch out for, including whether the property is furnished, unless you are prepared to take all your own cutlery and blow-up beds during your stays.

And you also need to check what – if any bills – are included. Landlords are sometimes willing to negotiate including some household bills such as water rates but otherwise you will need to factor in the cost of utilities, council tax and insurance.

Ultimately, a six month rental costing about £6,000 or more is unlikely to involve splashing out less than you would on a few weeks of a holiday let, but in terms of pounds per day you can spend there it might compare favourably.

There may be other factors that you need to watch out for. For example, a condition of your insurance might be that you do not leave the property empty for than 30 days, so you may need to plan to book in some additional weekend visits. 

Mark Hayward, of lettings body Propertymark, added a word of caution, saying: ‘It is crucial that renters read any tenancy agreement carefully making sure to leave the property as stipulated, and pay attention to any inventory attached to the tenancy. 

‘It is increasingly common for landlords in holiday areas to avoid a six-month commitment in favour of a very short term let on which they can achieve a premium, and therefore while a longer term holiday rental may appear attractive, in practice it is likely to prove more difficult.’ 

While a direct comparison may mean renting a property for six months is more expensive, it still provides the flexibility to use the property as much as you want. And remote working means it may be possible to use it during the week more frequently if there is a separate home office space. 

Properties to rent in tourist areas 

We take a look at three properties in Cornwall, Devon and the Cotswolds that can be rented for less than £1,000 a month on a minimum six-month tenancy agreement.

It compares to a potential £2,000 to £3,000 that a family of four may spend on a two week summer holiday alone, without getting to enjoy holiday lets at Christmas, half term or any additional time such as weekends.

1. Two-bed flat in Falmouth, Cornwall, £865 a month 

This two-bedroom terrace property in St Austell, Cornwall, is available to rent for £850 a month via Mid Cornwall letting agents

This two-bedroom terrace property in St Austell, Cornwall, is available to rent for £850 a month via Mid Cornwall letting agents

The property in St Austell has a garden with a lawn area, a patio and a good-sized garden shed

The property in St Austell has a garden with a lawn area, a patio and a good-sized garden shed

This two-bedroom terrace property is in the Charlestown area of St Austell in Cornwall.

It is on the outskirts of St Austell town centre and is within walking distance of the sea and the beach.

It is available to rent for £850 a month, via Mid Cornwall letting agents.

2. Three-bed cottage in Loddiswell, Devon, £895 a month 

This three-bedroom property in Devon is available to rent for £895 a month via letting agents Charles Head

This three-bedroom property in Devon is available to rent for £895 a month via letting agents Charles Head

There aref ar-reaching views of the surrounding countryside from the Loddiswell rental home

There aref ar-reaching views of the surrounding countryside from the Loddiswell rental home

This newly renovated cottage is in Loddiswell in Devon’s Kingsbridge, and boasts far-reaching views of the surrounding countryside.

The three-bedroom property is available to rent for £895 a month via letting agents Charles Head. 

It is ten miles from the luxury seaside hotspot of Salcombe and seven miles from Bantham Beach on the mouth of the River Avon. 

3. Two-bed house in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, £995 a month 

This two-bedroom terrace cottage is in Gloucestershire's Tetbury and is available to rent for £995 a month, via letting agents Moore Allen & Innocent

This two-bedroom terrace cottage is in Gloucestershire’s Tetbury and is available to rent for £995 a month, via letting agents Moore Allen & Innocent

The property has a good-sized garden and views of the surrounding countryside in the Cotswolds

The property has a good-sized garden and views of the surrounding countryside in the Cotswolds

This two-bedroom terrace cottage is in Gloucestershire’s Tetbury, which is in the Cotswolds.

It includes off-road parking and is available to rent for £995 a month via letting agents Moore Allen & Innocent.

Tetbury is about two and a half hours from London by road and 45 minutes from Bristol, which is 30 miles away. 

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