House movers have been inundated with bookings after the five-week lockdown, preparing to re-start work next Tuesday but simply unable to cope with demand, one national firm says.
Raymond Dobbe of World Moving and Storage said bookings were "way up the wazoo".
"We've got that much work that we've had to prioritise who really needs to move and who can wait."
From Tuesday, when New Zealand moves to alert level 3, moving companies are allowed to begin operations again as restrictions are slightly relaxed.
"Lots of people were in tears, trying to cope [through] the lockdown when they couldn't get their stuff. And now coming out of this - I think going out on Tuesday is a great idea. But some people had booked for today," he said with the lockdown previously due to end now.
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"Next week is already chocka-block for us. We're going to have to juggle a lot," Dobbe said.
People had their goods in storage when they were stopped from moving due to the lockdown, he said.
"We only had two day's notice prior to going into lockdown."
Last month, the Real Estate Institute advised that settlement dates be deferred until after the lockdown.
"Travel will be restricted to essential travel only - for instance pharmacy and supermarket trips - so settlements and moving house should be deferred until after the alert level 4 restriction is lifted," REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said.
This was also the recommendation of the Auckland District Law Society.
Murray Harden, a property specialist with Morrison Kent Lawyers, said most lawyers were looking to co-operate and encourage their clients to mutually agree to move settlement dates back.
Real estate agents can operate at level 3 alert but at limited capacity. Auctions are barred.
Barfoot & Thompson's Peter Thompson said last week he did not expect that agency's network of offices to be open.
However, people will be able to view houses for sale, but in limited numbers and with provisions in place such as hand sanitisation and logbooks.
Dobbe said people whose household containers were in transit during the lockdown were able to be collected by his company to reduce port congestion. Those containers could be emptied but not delivered, he said.
That created extreme distress for some families who were left with only the goods they had with them when the country went into lockdown, he said.
One man had only an airbed and a desk in his house so special clearance was sought for him to move from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
He was able to receive goods, Dobbe said. He was able to prove he would go into isolation into the house the goods were being delivered to.
"We've got so many people ready to move - people who've got nothing. There's a whole stack of people in that line. There must be some people who are not relying on someone else's house or finance and a way to push deliveries out," Dobbe said.
The firm had about two month's worth of deliveries which he said people wanted delivered in the next fortnight.
Other companies could get greedy and pull in untrained workers to cope with the loads, "to help to get bums in trucks and the fear is damage, theft and people going into people's homes and they were just shysters".
He encouraged people to consider delaying that till later in May "so they don't get a rushed job". The business had to prioritise who it was most important to move compared to others who could delay the shift for a short time, he said.
After the Christchurch earthquakes, some movers were victims to unscrupulous operators, he said, and he didn't want a repeat of that.
Some moving vendors who had sold were now being "bullied" by the buyers into leaving as quickly as possible, he said, because those buyers were so keen to shift.
The firm had around 70 staff and depots in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Around 40 per cent of the turnover at his business was import and export removals. He questioned how the five-week delay in house sales would affect house movers and said some parts of the sector could then suffer a much-reduced rate of work.
"What immigrants will we see in the next couple of years, given the fact that fewer people are expected to arrive in New Zealand. Fewer people will also probably leave to leave for opportunities overseas," he said.
Before the lockdown, the business couldn't get enough staff but he expects more options of new staff potentially due to unemployment. Training them and getting them work-fit was a challenge, he said.
As part of the new health and safety plan, trucks would only be able to have two crew instead of three.
The business would stagger staff start times. A cooked breakfast was provided usually at 7am but that would be harder with split shifts, Dobbe said.