A Comprehensive Guide to Clearing a House

How to Clear a House When Someone has Passed Away

The death of a parent or relative can be a very difficult time without the additional worries associated with the probate, sale and clearance of a house or flat. These very stressful tasks are made more difficult by the emotional stresses caused by a bereavement.


If you intend to sell the home you will then need to make the place clean and presentable to attract a potential buyer. Clearance of part of the belongings becomes an important step. 


Estate agents suggest not to bother with redecorating. But removing personal items like photographs, ornaments, and any aids used by an elderly person helps create a blank canvas for potential purchasers to project their own lives onto. And that makes it much more likely to sell, quickly, and for a decent price.


If you have managed to agree a sale, most likely the buyer will require you to remove everything. This is where you will have to conduct a full house clearance, removing all belongings and furniture. Garages, sheds and gardens will usually need to be completely emptied.


How do you sort through the lifetime’s possessions of a loved one, decide what to keep and what to get rid of, while in a state of shock and grief, and often with a time pressure?


You may be tempted to get rid of as much as possible by giving it away. This seems like a good idea, but is it really the best way? With the best will in the world you will struggle to give many of the items away, then what do you do? A local house clearance company will remove everything and will usually take into account any items of value. A cupboard filled with old plates or clothes may be cheaper going as part of a house clearance than an empty cupboard or just its contents! 


Sadly, dividing up the belongings of a relative who has passed away is often problematic for those items not mentioned in a will. Who decides who will get what? What if two people want the same thing? What is fair? Disagreements can be avoided if all concerned bring in an impartial person to help organise the distribution of personal effects. Some house clearance firms offer this service.


Once you and your siblings and other relatives have agreed which possessions go to who, there is the task of clearing the rest of the furniture and unwanted items. There are House Clearance Specialists that can help with this. These companies are very good at quickly removing unwanted items and will usually be willing to sell on your behalf anything of value.


Selling items privately is an option, but this takes time. Because of the amount of stuff and some very large items. Auction houses may assist with some sales but beware of hidden auction costs which might mean you end up owing them money! Charities may also be able to assist with a house clearance but will usually cherry-pick the belongings that they will take leaving you to deal with the rest.


Whatever you decide is the best way to deal with clearing and selling a property most likely you will opt to use some local services to help you through this very difficult task. We have outlined the 7 most common services available and highlighted the pros and cons of each one to help you decide what is the best way to empty a property. You can also read our guide on how to pick a reputable House Clearance Company

Methods of Clearing a House

Local House Clearance Company


  • Knowledge of best local charities.
  • More items donated or recycled.
  • Experienced and calm.
  • Environmentally very responsible.
  • Complete job, nothing left to get rid of afterwards.


  • May be in high demand.

National House Clearance Company


  • Experienced and calm.

  • Complete job, nothing left to get rid of afterwards.


  • Less environmentally very responsible due to the distances travelled by these companies.

  • Less knowledge of the best local charities.

  • More items may end up at landfill.
  • Can be expensive.

Auctioneers House Clearance


  • Will remove some items and sell them on your behalf potentially saving money.


  • Less items will be donated or recycled.
  • Hidden auction and lotting fees may leave you with little of the sale value and you could end up owing the auctioneer if you aren’t careful!

Chairty Clearance Company


  • The proceeds should go to charity.


  • Charities cannot accept furniture such as mattresses or sofas without a fire safety label.

  • Charities cannot sell everything so often they choose only the best items to take. Leaving you with the problem of disposing of these unsalable items.

Man With a Van Service


  • Usually available at short notice.


  • May not hold a full waste carriers license, essential to legally carrying out waste removal.
  • If items are fly-tipped, you may be liable if the items can be traced back to you.
  • Most items will end up at landfill.
  • Items will not be donated or recycled.

Rubbish Removal Company


  • Will quickly dispose of pretty much anything depending on which service you opt for.


  • Most things will end up in waste sites rather than being reused.

  • Can be more expensive than a house clearance company.

Do it Yourself


  • You will save money by doing it yourself.


  • You may find the process of clearing a deceased family members belonging painful.
  • It will probably take you a lot longer to clear the items yourself, especially if you don’t have a suitable vehicle.
  • You may not know the best places to donate or recycle certain items.

Hiring a Skip


  • You can put anything in a skip, apart from hazardous materials.

  • You may save money by hiring a skip.


    • You may find the process of clearing a deceased family members belonging painful.
    • It will probably take you a lot longer to clear the items yourself.
    • You may not know the best places to donate or recycle certain items.
    • Items put in a skip will not be recycled or donated.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you clear?

We are able to offer a full clearance service for deceased estates, properties for sale, end of tenancy properties, or just general clearances. We take anything including but not limited to; furniture, clothes, bedding, bric-a-brac, waste, food, garden items, sheds, garages and much more. We are able to take the following items at an additional cost: bricks, concrete, rubble, gas bottles, rubber tyres, large quantities of paint, oils and chemicals, generally we can take a small amount of domestic chemicals and oils.

What is the House Clearance Process?

When you call us, we will book in a time to come and give a Free Quote. We will take note of everything that needs to be cleared and supply you with a quote there and then. If you accept the quote, we will arrange to come and clear the property at the time that is most convenient for you. We will arrive at the given time and clear everything that you tell us to clear. Once the clearance has been completed, we will return the keys and the job is done. We will often pick up and return the property keys to an estate agent, meaning you don’t have to worry about making yourself available.

Do you Recycle?

As an environmentally friendly company, we always look to recycle as much as possible whenever we can. Sometimes, there is waste that cannot be recycled but we are proud to average a 90% recycling rate. A lot of clearance companies will just dump everything at the landfill but at Crystal House Clearances, we use waste disposal sites that separate and recycle their waste. But before anything gets recycled, we always try to donate as much to charity as we can. We strongly believe in giving back to our community where we can.

Where do you take the rubbish?

We have built up a network of licensed recycling centres where we can responsibly dispose of waste. We also have a network of local charities that we donate to on a regular basis. This means a lot of the bric-a-brac, bedding and food items are able to be donated and reused rather than sent to landfill. Some items such as furniture may be sold where possible, allowing us to keep our costs down as much as possible and pass that saving on to our customers.

Do you clear the whole property?

Absolutely Yes! We pride ourselves on being able to do a complete job and leave our customers properties Crystal Clear! The last thing you want is for a company to turn up and leave unwanted items behind, leaving you with the added stress of having to dispose or arrange for the disposal of these items. When we visit the property to quote, we take into account the amount of items to be cleared, access such as hard to reach places or staircases and are able to provide you with an accurate timeline for the job to be completed. We will always take everything we have quoted for and will even give the property a quick clean before we leave.

Do I need to be there?

We understand that the process of a House Clearance can be an emotional and upsetting time, especially if you have recently lost a loved one. You may not wish to be present whilst the belongings are cleared and we totally understand this. We do not require you to be present on the day of the clearance, we often pick up the keys before hand and return them once we are done. You can trust us to carry out the House Clearance with the utmost respect and we are able to work independently.