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Van Hire

Unless you happen to have a friend with access to an industrial-sized van, the chances are you will need to hire one at your own expense when it comes time to move house.

Fortunately, this isn't the budget-breaking cost it used to be a few years ago. The UK hire market is awash with reasonably-priced start-ups who provide flexible, hassle-free rental service up and down the country.

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Before you do anything...

Due dilligence is an important part of moving house, and hiring a van is no different. Before you get on the phone to your local rental company, there are a number of things you need to do to ensure you are fully prepared:

• First and most importantly, you need to take an audit of how much stuff you need to move, and get a good idea of its size and weight. This will help you determine the type of van you need to rent.

• It's also useful to consider whether your cargo could potentially cause any harm to the van itself. A good example is if you are moving a form of liquid that, if spilled, might result in internal cosmetic damage. If so, you may need to inform your host, as the insurance costs will be higher.

• In terms of documentation, it's a good idea to have all of the paperwork you might need ready before you get on the telephone. Most companies will, at a minimum, require you to prove your current address through some sort of utility bill or bank statement. That's in addition to obvious things like a valid UK licence (generally you will need to be 21 or older, although this varies from place to place). Also, a good van insurance policy should be in use.

• Do you need to rent the van one way or both directions? It may work out cheaper to rent the van for both directions so compare prices and ask if the providers can help you with this.

Shopping around

Don't be afraid to shop around when it comes to choosing the right hiring company. Though it can be time-consuming, you can make big savings by visiting various different websites, carefully looking at their introductory terms and comparing quotes.

Here are some nationwide services we recommend taking a closer look at:

Europcar

Europcar have a diverse fleet of large and medium-sized vans, offering rentals up to one month along with comprehensive 24-hour roadside assistance. Midweek deals are best.

Enterprise

Enterprise rents to both private and commercial customers, providing small, medium and large-sized vans, the cheapest of which carries a maximum of 885kg.

Avis

Perfect for long-haul moves, Avis' largest van accommodates a maximum of 1351kg, and runs on diesel, making it both economical and easy to drive.

Taking care

While part of the appeal of hiring a van instead of buying one is that you don't have to worry about upkeep and maintenance costs, you're still responsible for the vehicle while it's in your care.

As such, there are several precautions you should take once you get the keys:

• First, it's a good idea to carry out a full check of the vehicle's condition before you take it for a spin. This means taking photos of any cracks or blemishes you find, as well as making a note of its mileage. It sounds extreme, but it will ensure you don't get hit with any extra costs when you return the keys.

• If you've never operated a large vehicle before, it's probably also a good idea to make a note of the van's dimensions. The last thing you want is to attempt to drive under a low bridge through forgetfulness.

• In addition, try and avoid winding country roads where trees and bushes poke out onto your windscreen. Even minor scrapes could see you charged penalties at the end of your rental period.

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