California is one of the busiest markets for movers in the nation, and recent years have seen more people moving away from big cities like Los Angeles to suburbs or out of the state. However to avoid complaints and loss of property when leaving for a new residence, it is smart to choose professional moving companies in Los Angeles to handle your job. Before you settle for a mover in the city, you should always ask the following questions:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Moving Company in Los Angeles?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared with Other Movers in Los Angeles?
- Will You Get a Moving Permit as Required by Los Angeles Regulations?
- What Kind of Moving Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Provide Packing and Storage Services?
- What is an Appropriate Tip for Your Movers?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Movers in Los Angeles?
- Can You Provide References or Recommendations in Los Angeles?
Per the provisions of the California Household Movers Act, any individual or business that wishes to transport household goods and personal effects to or from a residence in Los Angeles is required to hold a valid Household Mover Permit. These permits are issued at the state level by the California Bureau of Household Goods and Services (BHGS) and they can be obtained by completing an Application for Household Movers Permit Form and submitting this form to:
- Bureau of Household Goods and Services
- 4244 South Market Court
- Suite D
- Sacramento, CA 95834-1243
The completed form can also be submitted via email. Note that the payment of a filing fee will be required before this permit can be obtained. Applicants will also be required to pass a written examination, provide proof of insurance and evidence that their vehicles are in good condition, undergo a background check, and provide any additional information that the BHGS may require at the time of the application.
Per Article 8 of the Household Movers Act, parties that provide household goods moving services without possessing a valid BHGS-issued permit can face criminal and administrative penalties of up to $10,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, or a combination of both. Note that homeowners that retain the services of unpermitted movers are also considered to be in violation of the act, and can face fines of up to $1,000, jail time of up to three months, or a combination of both.
To this end, you should always confirm that your intended moving company has been duly permitted to operate in Los Angeles before you finalize any hiring arrangements with them. You can do this by utilizing this bureau's online License Search portal. In situations where you intend to relocate out of state, your mover will typically be required to undergo additional registration with the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration. You can verify that a moving company has been registered to provide interstate relocation services via this agency's online search portal. You can also contact the BHGS at (916) 999-2041 to get additional information on state-required permitting and registration procedures for moving companies in Los Angeles.
It is important to note that, in addition to obtaining an occupation-related permit from the state's Bureau of Household Goods and Services, movers in Los Angeles must also meet mandatory local business-related requirements before operating in the city. These requirements include obtaining a Business Tax Registration Certificate from the Los Angeles Office of Finance, either online or by submitting a properly completed Business Tax Certificate Application Form via email. Queries concerning mandatory business registration requirements for moving companies that wish to operate in Los Angeles can be directed to the city's Office of Finance at (844) 663-4411.
Finding out how much you will be charged by your intended moving company is necessary for avoiding misunderstandings down the road. Certain factors affect moving costs in Los Angeles, and some of these factors include:
- The size of your home and the volume of your belongings
- The season and date of your move
- The distance between your moving locations
- Location inconveniences, such as narrow entryways and multiple flights of stairs
- The inclusion of specialty items and extra services
- Tips for movers
Moving companies in the city typically calculate their rates based on either the distance involved for the move, the size and weight of the items being moved, or the total length of time required to complete the job. Note that the California Bureau of Household Goods and Services sets maximum rates that movers can charge for their services. In situations where these rates may be exceeded, the mover must inform you of this in writing no later than three days before the move, and obtain your consent for the new rates to be charged.
Irrespective of this, you should always request written estimates from at least two or three movers in the city and compare their prices. Be consistent as possible with each mover when requesting these estimates, as this makes it easier to compare their charges and get the best price for your relocation activities. Another advantage of requesting written estimates is that these estimates are binding on the mover, thereby reducing your chances of being scammed. However, make sure that the movers perform a visual inspection of the items that are to be moved before providing their estimates and that the written estimates show the total estimated charges for your required services.
Transportation and material moving workers in Los Angeles earn an average annual wage of $43,860. The list below compares the hourly average wages earned by these workers in the city against those of transportation and material moving workers in other parts of the State of California as well as several other major cities in the country:Los Angeles Movers Hourly Average Wage$21.09California Movers Hourly Average Wage$21.22New York City Movers Hourly Average Wage$23.05Chicago Movers Hourly Average Wage$20.86Seattle Movers Hourly Average Wage$25.50Houston Movers Hourly Average Wage$20.53Philadelphia Movers Hourly Average Wage$19.55
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Movers in Los Angeles are generally required to obtain an Object Move Permit from the city's Bureau of Street Services, and these permits can be obtained in person at:
- Bureau of Street Services
- Investigation and Enforcement Division
- 1149 S Broadway Street
- 3rd Floor
- Los Angeles, CA 90015
Note that object move permits are only valid within city limits and this validity does not include streets or bridges that have posted weight limits. Movers that obtain these permits must also comply with certain rules and regulations, which include:
- Carrying the original copy of the permit in the moving vehicle at all times
- Adhering to the approved route listed in the permit
- Operating only within the period stated on the permit. Note that moves are typically not allowed during rainy or foggy weather, and on certain holidays, such as Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's day
- Properly lighting their vehicles with warning lights and signs during night-time moves
- Arranging an inspection with the city's Department of Public Works at least 24 hours before the move for loads with an overall length of more than 110 feet. Moves involving these types of loads are also restricted to the hours of 12:00 a.m. - 6:00 a.m.
- Displaying signs that read "CAUTION-LONG LOAD FOLLOWING" and "CAUTION-LONG LOAD AHEAD" ahead and behind the load respectively for loads with an overall length that is more than 75 feet. These signs should consist of black letters that are at least four inches and are written on a yellow background. They must also be constructed with an appropriate reflectorized material or illuminated with electric lights when traveling at night
- Keeping to the right of the highway centerline at all times. The movers must also stay off shoulders except when they have to enter or leave the highway, or in other necessary situations to allow trailing traffic to pass on narrow or winding roads
- Complying with all applicable parking restrictions as well as any relevant local and state laws and ordinances
Additional information on object move permits can be gotten by contacting the Investigation and Enforcement Division of the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services at (213) 847-6000.
Note that, depending on the pick-up or drop-off location, movers may also be required to obtain an appropriate parking permit from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. This department issues three types of parking permits, namely:
- Preferential Parking Permits: these are required for parking in Preferential Parking Districts, which are areas with regulations that are aimed at reducing the impact of non-residential parking
- Oversized Vehicle Permits: these are required for parking in Oversize Vehicle Restricted Areas, which are areas with regulations that limit the parking of vehicles that are more than 22 feet in length or 84 feet in height between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
- Overnight Parking Permits: these are required for parking in Overnight Parking Districts, which are areas with regulations that limit parking between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. to reduce criminal and public nuisance activities
Queries concerning the procedure and requirements for obtaining parking permits can be directed to the city's Department of Transportation at (866) 561-9742.
You should always confirm the types of moving services that a moving company offers before reaching any final agreements with them. Movers in Los Angeles typically provide three main types of moving services, namely:
- Local Moving: this generally involves moves within the city that are not more than 50 miles from one point to the other
- Long-distance Moving: this involves moves that are more than 50 miles in distance, and it commonly includes moves from Los Angeles to other cities within the State of California
- Interstate Moving: this involves moves from Los Angeles to locations that are outside the State of California. Some moving companies that provide interstate moving services also provide relocation services to locations outside the United States
To this end, you should always make sure that your preferred moving company is equipped to properly provide the specific type of moving service that you require. It is also a good idea to find out whether the company provides additional services, such as packing and unloading your items or moving specialized items artwork, antiques, and pianos. Finally, make sure that you are given a written estimate for these services and agree on these charges before your move date.
Cost estimates for common moving services provided by professional moving companies in Los Angeles are listed below:Local/long-distance residential moving$127 - $200 per hour (includes cost of labor and moving truck)Piano moving$357 - $400 (within Los Angeles)Mobile home moving$3,055 - $3,800 (for single-wide trailer at a distance of no more than 50 miles)Moving out of studio apartment$300 - $450 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)Moving out of one-bedroom apartment$400 - $550 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)Moving out of two-bedroom apartment$600 - $750 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)Moving out of three or four-bedroom apartment$900 - $1,800 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)
Hiring a moving company that also provides packing and storage services saves you from having to retain the services of multiple companies to provide these services, thereby helping you streamline your moving process. Doing this also spares you the tedious task of having to pack and unpack your items before and after your move and saves you the stress of figuring out if your items will be stored properly in situations where they cannot be moved to your new location immediately. Common situations where storage services are typically required include:
- You intend to move and settle into your new space before moving your items in
- Your new space is not adequate enough to accommodate all your items
- You lose access to your current location before your move date
Always find out the type of packing and storage services that your preferred moving company provides and make sure that you are okay with the scope of these services. Moving companies in Los Angeles generally offer the following packing options:
- Full packing/unpacking
- Partial packing/unpacking
- Used box pick-up and disposal
- Professional box handling and organization
Similarly, these companies offer on-site or warehouse storage and mobile or portable storage options. Whatever your preference may be, you should always find out how your items will be labeled and stored during the packing and storage, and request an inspection of the storage facility before the items are moved there. Finally, it is a good idea to find out if you have the option of providing your own packing materials, and whether doing this will affect the total cost of your relocation activity.
While it is not mandatory to tip your movers in Los Angeles, it is a customary practice to do so in appreciation of the services that they provide. Many homeowners utilize either a percentage-based method or a time-money ratio when tipping movers in the city. The commonly accepted standard for percentage-based tipping is 5% - 20% of the cost of your move, and you can calculate what this cost will amount to when you receive an estimate from the moving company. Likewise, the common time-money ratio utilized by many homeowners in the city is listed below:
- $10 - $20 per mover for four hours of work
- $20 - $40 per mover for eight hours of work
- $40 - $60 per mover for 12 hours of work
You should consider factors like the difficulty of the move, weather conditions, and the size and weight of items being moved when calculating your tips. You can also ask your moving company what they consider to be an appropriate tip for their movers before finalizing your hiring arrangements with them. Note that you are not obligated to follow their suggestion. It is also a good idea to give these tips to each mover individually. Finally, you should not tip your movers if you are unsatisfied with their services. Some situations where tipping is unacceptable include:
- The movers are late
- The movers take too many breaks
- The movers deliberately prolong the work on purpose to increase their fees. This usually happens in cases where they charge hourly rates
- The movers lose or damage some of your items
- The movers are rude or disrespectful to you or members of your family
- The movers do not perform previously agreed-upon services
When situations like this occur, you should always make sure to inform the moving company of their movers' unprofessional behavior.
Road crashes cost Americans approximately $871 billion annually. Despite the best efforts of moving companies in Los Angeles, there is always the possibility of an accident occurring during your move. In situations where your mover is not adequately insured, these accidents can result in huge financial losses to you.
To this end, the California Bureau of Household Goods and Services (BHGS) stipulates insurance requirements that moving companies in the city must meet before they offer their services to interested parties. These requirements include carrying minimum liability of $250,000 for bodily injury or death to one person, $500,000 for bodily injury or death to more than one person, and $100,000 for property damage or destruction. Movers may also carry a minimum combined single limit of $600,000 to cover the aforementioned incidents. Finally, movers must carry cargo insurance coverage of at least $20,000 per shipment, as well as state-mandated workers' compensation insurance for any employees that they have.
It should be noted that your homeowners' or renters' insurance does not cover relocation-related property damage. As such, you should always ask your intended mover to provide proof of their insurance coverage and contact the relevant insurance provider to validate this proof and confirm that it is adequate for the scope of your relocation activity. Failing to do this can make you liable for any damages or accidents that may occur during your move. You can get additional information on the insurance requirements for Los Angeles moving companies by contacting the BHGS at (916) 999-2041 or via email.
Professional moving companies in Los Angeles generally do not hesitate to provide their customers with references to past clients, as this is usually an attestation to their reliability. Thus, if your intended moving company cannot provide you with references, this is an indication that you are dealing with a mover that provides shoddy services, and you should strongly consider looking for another moving company. Note that you should always check any references that you are given to ensure that they are legit.
When searching for moving companies to help you with your relocation activities in Los Angeles, it is necessary to take certain precautionary steps to avoid falling for relocation scams. Common signs that you may be dealing with a fraudulent moving company include:
- Demands for full upfront payment before the move
- Hesitance to provide written estimates
- Provisions of cost estimates without an inspection of the items to be moved
- The use of moving trucks that do not have company logos
Taking the following steps when selecting movers in the city can protect you against the actions of fraudulent moving companies:
- Get referrals to moving companies in the city from friends and family that have successfully moved or from reputable online sources like the California Moving and Storage Association and the Better Business Bureau. You should also thoroughly research any moving company that you intend to hire before reaching any agreements with them
- Confirm that the moving company has been duly licensed by the California Bureau of Household Goods and Services to operate in the city. You can do this online via the bureau's License Search portal. You can equally verify that the moving company has fulfilled local business requirements by contacting the Los Angeles Office of Finance at (844) 663-4411 or by utilizing the Uhire online license search platform
- Get written estimates for your move from at least two or three moving companies and make sure that they conduct a visual inspection of your items before providing these estimates
- Avoid moving companies that request cash deposits or full payment upfront
- Make sure that the moving company provides a written contract for their services before they place any of your items onto their moving truck. The contract should include a Not to Exceed price, which is the maximum amount that you can be charged for the move, unless you request additional services, which must subsequently be detailed in Change Order for Moving Services
- Make sure that the moving company is properly insured and ask them to explain their basic liability and transit protection options
- Take an inventory of your items, preferably by photographing or videotaping them, before the move
- Get copies of every document that you sign before the move and keep these documents properly
Complaints concerning bad moving companies in Los Angeles can be filed with the California Bureau of Household Goods and Services by calling (916) 999-2041 or by completing and submitting a consumer complaint form, along with copies of supporting documents, via email. The completed form and relevant documents can also be submitted to the bureau at:
- Bureau of Household Goods and Services
- 4244 South Market Court
- Suite D
- Sacramento, CA 95834
Consumer complaints concerning Los Angeles moving companies can also be filed with the Office of the Attorney General of the State of California online. Finally, complaints related to interstate moving activities can be filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, either online or by calling 1-888-368-7238 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., from Mondays to Fridays.