Loosing a family member or a close friend is a very emotional and stressful time. At some point, if you are responsible for the property in which they lived, you’ll need to think about clearing it, and getting it ready to hand back to the local council, or decide what happens next. But this may be a mine field, and you may not know where to start, or what to do, so we’ll give a brief overview in this article. Please note that we are presuming that there is no probate to worry about, and that the person handling the clearance is allowed to do so.
Firstly – if the property is being left empty there are a few things to do right away. This includes making sure the property is secure, if you need to add extra padlocks to sheds and back doors, these can be done for about £10. Then either turn the water off and drain down the system, or make sure the heating is left on, to prevent burst pipes (someone will still be responsible for the gas / electric bill). Please turn off the fridge / freezers, empty them out, and leave their doors open. There is nothing worse than opening a fridge that has been left for a month…
Next is time to start to think about what will happen to all the items. Maybe the person who’s property it was has made some wishes, like donating to charity shops etc. There may also be nieces / nephews / children / grand kids who have requested to have certain items. Getting these marked, or out the way will make it easier to see where you are, and what is left. You may also wish to remove sentimental items, family photos, and anything else you wouldn’t want left in the property.
If you have responsibility for the persons financial affairs, it is worth having a dig around and seeing what paperwork is about. On numerous occasions we have found bank books, letters from financial institutions, bank statements etc, and when handing them over to the family, the response has been ‘well we didn’t know about that one’. You may also want to remove anything ‘personal’ that is found at this time. Its also good to set up a mail redirect at this time. Whilst 3 months may seem logical, and the cheapest, allowing a year will normally cover any ‘annual statements’ that come through the post.
House Clearance Companies
At this point, its a good time to call in the house clearance companies to give you a quote. For us, when we conduct a quote, we look at the residual value that is within what is being removed, and take this into account. Not all companies do this, and others will only take the items of value. We remove pretty much everything, but can’t take industrial chemicals or asbestos for example.
Once you have the quotes in, you can decide what to do next. It maybe that it is easier to use a company, or you may decide to do it yourself. If you do it yourself, check with the local council tip and see what size vehicle you can take into there. We’ve known people hire long wheel base, hi top vans, only to find that these aren’t allowed in the tip, or they will be charged a commercial fee for tipping. Hiring a van, and having 4 or 5 family members you can normally clear most properties over a weekend. However, be aware that these people will normally have an emotional link to alot of items, and may want to discuss and talk about everything, thus taking longer to complete.
When you bring in a company, its staff have no emotional link, but are professional and discrete with the clearance. You’ll also find that they have carried out many clearances in the past, and will know what to do with each item. The clearance is normally completed quickly, with the minimum of fuss. If you used a company who remove everything, you’ll be left with an empty property, ready to hand the keys back (it may need a quick clean), or to go for sale or rent.
The vast majority of house clearance companies will give you as much help as they can for clearances following a bereavement, and fully understand that your head may not be in the right place. Its perfectly natural. If you need a clearance in Sussex or Kent, then we may be able to help. Please do contact us to find out more.