Moving Crisis: What to Do If Your New Home Isn’t Ready
Moving to a new home is stressful, even when it goes smoothly. The list seems endless, from packing to finding movers, obtaining new insurance, and changing your address. The last thing anyone needs when moving is to find out that their new home will not be available as planned, regardless of the reason. Here are some things to consider if you end up having to wait.
Before you can figure out your next steps, it will be essential to understand why your home isn't available as planned and who is your contact person(s) for the new home. It may be an owner, leasing or real estate agent, property manager, or landlord. Is the home not livable? For example, were planned renovations or repairs not completed in time? Are there funding issues on your end or theirs? Another tenant may have yet to vacate the home as arranged. Many reasons could cause a home not to be ready. The important thing is to find out why, when the property will be ready, and if the landlord or owner/seller will help you navigate the problem.
CAN YOU STAY IN YOUR OLD HOME?
While not ideal and often unfeasible, the easiest solution may be to remain in your current home until the new property is ready. This works best when you have flexible property management or new buyer (depending on if you are renting or selling). If you are renting, you may be able to switch to a month-to-month lease option. It may cost more than your previous rent, but less than other options. If you are selling, inquire with your buyer's agent if the buyer would be willing to extend the escrow period or allow you to "rent back" the property to them. This option will likely only work if the landlord doesn't already have a scheduled tenant or the buyer doesn't have a specific time they are required to be out of their current home.
If you cannot remain in your old home, other options include:
- Finding a hotel with an extended stay option. Many of these accommodations also allow pets; if not, they are legally required to accept ESA (emotional support animals). While the rate may be 2-4 times higher than your prior rent or mortgage, keep in mind that things like utilities, internet, cleaning, and sometimes even breakfast are included. Large city centers where traveling professionals regularly stay can make it easier to find options like these.
- See if you can stay with friends or family for the time being. However, this will likely be more difficult with more family members. Ask what they need from you to make the arrangement work regarding monetary contributions and household chores.
- Find a month-to-month rental. Month-to-month is likely the least convenient option, as you will have to move your household twice, and will probably come at a premium cost. However, it may be the only choice if the other options are not feasible.
WHAT ABOUT MY STUFF?
If your move-in date is delayed, you will likely need to find storage options for your belongings and extra vehicles that aren’t regularly used. Many moving companies have storage facilities that they can take your things to after loading up the truck, and some may offer 30-days free. In addition, friends and family may be able to hold personal property or vehicles for the short term. Otherwise, you will need to shop around for the most affordable storage unit for your needs.
WHAT ABOUT MY PETS?
You can research local pet boarding facilities if you can't find another place that accepts pets while waiting for your new home. However, these will come with a cost, potential exposure to diseases, and licenses/vaccination requirements, on top of being separated from your pet. Ask friends or family if they can watch your pet if you can provide food and other necessities for them. You can also contact private animal rescues to see if they have any fosters willing to watch your pets. Finally, if being away from your pet would harm your mental health, registering your pet as an ESA is reasonably straightforward and legally ensures your ESA can stay with you wherever you end up staying.
CAN I GET FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE?
More pressing is how to fund the extra costs for the unexpected delay. Depending on why your new home is not ready, you may request reimbursement from the landlord, property manager, or seller if the delay is their responsibility. If you are under contract, you may need to engage a lawyer to assist you in obtaining reimbursements.
It would be best if you also considered contacting:
- Your insurance company for rental or property insurance to see if your policy includes any assistance options
- The local fair housing office to assist you in understanding your rights as a renter or homebuyer
- Your local church, veteran’s post, or other community organizations that may have resources available or members willing to help