a comprehensive guide to house clearance

House Clearance Near Me

3 November 2020

How to save money and find a local house clearance business you can trust

Looking for help with a House Clearance? Where to find a good house clearance company near me? How much do they cost, ways to save money, and common mistakes to avoid? Great – you’re in the right place! 

Welcome to our definitive guide to house clearance. We hope you find it useful and if you have any suggestions or feedback, please drop us a line at the end of the article. We’d love to hear from you.

This post covers the following:

  1. Definition 
  2. Three ways to do a house clearance
  3. What is a house clearance company?
  4. How to avoid cowboy operators?
  5. Where to find a good house clearance company near me?
  6. How do house clearance companies charge?
  7. How much does a house clearance cost?
  8. Ways to save money 
  9. Planning your house clearance
  10. Common mistakes and how to avoid them
  11. What is a probate house clearance?
  12. Do local councils do house clearance?
  13. Same day house clearance 
  14. Privacy & identity theft


House Clearance Video

See the video plus transcript here.


1. What is a House Clearance?

A house clearance is the process of emptying a household property of all of its contents. Anything from old furniture, books and appliances, to bric-a-brac, clothes and soft furnishings. Depending on the situation, it can also include domestic refuse, builders rubbish and garden refuse. All of these items are removed and sold, donated or taken to a disposal site. 

House clearances arise most often after a bereavement. But they can also occur for many other reasons. For example, someone relocating overseas; tenants quitting a tenancy without notice; or following a property repossession. 

In all of these situations, a home has a lot of ‘stuff’ left in it that is no longer required by the former occupier. So someone needs to load it all up and take it away.


2. Three ways to do a house clearance

There are three ways to clear a house. 1) Use a house clearance company to clear the whole thing; 2) clear the property yourself; or 3) do some of it yourself and use a specialist for the rest. 


3. What is a house clearance company?

A house clearance company is a business that specialises in clearing homes. It is a combination of bulky waste collector and second hand furniture and antique dealer. They load up and remove all items from the property. Often they will have a shop to sell anything of quality that they collect. Although, some just have a storage facility and sell the items over the web, on sites like eBay.

House clearance companies make their money by charging people for house clearances and/or reselling things they clear. Their costs are the labour and fuel in doing the clearance, and also disposal fees in getting rid of anything that they are unable to sell or give away. Sometimes there is so much resalable stuff in a house clearance that the company will actually pay the customer to do the house clearance. But in most instances, they charge a fee and that fee will reflect these ingoings and outgoings as they relate to your job.



4. How to avoid cowboy operators


Just like any other waste collection business, a house clearance company requires a license to remove waste from the Environment Agency (called a ‘Waste Carriers License’). You can check whether they have one by asking for their license number and checking it against the Environment Agency site. 

Note: this doesn’t guarantee they will not fly tip rubbish, but it at least confirms they have good intentions!


A clearance company should also have public liability insurance that covers them for clearing properties. Ask to see a copy of their insurance before they start. Check it does actually cover the service of house clearance, rather than simply A to B removals.


Over and above this basic documentation, is their reputation. What do other people think of them and have they been operating for a while? Good operators should have plenty of happy customers who are prepared to recommend them. If not, why should you trust them? So, ask them for some recent references or at least check to see what ratings and reviews they have on a respectable trader site.


house clearance near me


5. Where to find a good house clearance company near me?

The easiest way to find a good house clearance company nearby is to post a job on the waste removal and reuse marketplace, LoveJunk. Local clearance companies and reuse organisations respond with quotes to do the job. You will also be able to see their ratings and numbers of jobs they’ve done. Then you can select the best one. 

LoveJunk checks all collectors operating through the marketplace are properly licensed and insured. It also captures customer feedback after every collection, so you can trust that ratings are based on genuine customer reviews. 

Very Large house clearance?

If your house clearance is likely to fill up more than a large van, you have two options:

  1. The first is to use the video function when creating your listing on LoveJunk, so you can share as much info as possible with collectors to ensure they can quote properly.
  2. The second (and more straight forward option) is to create a listing for part only of the clearance.  Get in some quotes for that. Find a good company. And then have them quote for the rest when they are come to the property. 



6. How do house clearance businesses charge? 

There isn’t much standardisation with house clearance charges. Prices quoted tend to be all-in, rather than by the hour or the van load. This is because the costs and potential income of a job vary dramatically depending on what items are there. For example, a house filled with junk, but with a priceless antique amongst all that junk, might well result in a much cheaper clearance than a property with half as much stuff, but nothing of any real value.

When getting quotes for a clearance – it is much easier to ask for a fixed price, rather than one that may vary depending on how many van loads are used. The latter price structure is open to abuse, because it allows an unscrupulous operator to load up items inefficiently to take up more space and charge you more.


house clearance near me


7. How much does a house clearance near me cost?

The cost of a house clearance varies depending on the amount being cleared (more stuff costs more unless it has resale value); what is being cleared (ie. how much of it has any resale value); the difficulty of the clearance (difficult access takes more time, so more labour cost); and the urgency of the job. Urgent jobs cost more than if time is not of the essence. 

That said, a ‘standard house clearance’ of a 2 bed house can cost from around £200 – £500. A 1 bed flat clearance might cost £100 – £250.



8. Ways to save money

Here are a few ideas to help save money with your house clearance:

Ask friends and family to help

Instead of paying third parties, rally family members and friends to help you get the job done. This may also end up providing more cars for trips to the tip and charity shops. You can pay them in cups of tea and cake. And just think of the lovely bonding you’ll have working together 🙂

Start with the question “what could be reused?”

Just because something might not fit with your taste, is there a chance that soemone else might like to have it?  If you have time, always explore what items can be donated or sold before getting in house clearance companies to quote for the job. Plenty of things, provided they are in reasonable condition, like furniture or appliances, can find a second home. If the property is on a reasonably busy road, consider a yard sale. Try local charity shops and also online marketplaces like Freegle, Freecycle, eBay, Facebook Marketplace and LoveJunk. 

For a detailed breakdown, try our Ultimate Guide to Freecycle.

Hire a van 

Instead of hiring a full house clearance service, you could just hire a van to make transportation easier. Make sure you check necessary permits and charges to enter recycling centres in anything bigger than a standard car. This is because many local councils do not allow vans into the recycling centre, or charge extra and assume you are ‘trade’.

Give house clearance companies lots of notice 

You’ll likely get charged much more if you need the service immediately and don’t give companies any notice. Just like removal companies, clearance specialists like to have some time in advance to book you in and optimise their workings days.  

Get multiple quotes

Use LoveJunk to compare quotes and make sure you’re getting the best deal.




9. How to plan your house clearance

There are a few key things to consider when you need to clear a home:

  • Scale – how big is the challenge? Are we talking one sofa and a birdcage, or 6 Luton vans of stuff and a large skip? The size of the clearance has a big impact on the price and time it will take. 


  • People – who is around to help? Do you have family or friends that can assist? Are they physically able to carry bulky, potentially heavy items? Otherwise, you’ll want to hire a house clearance company to help (which will cost money) or at least a man with a van.


  • Transport – do you have a suitable vehicle for the items you’ll need to get rid of? Do you need to hire a van? Do you want to hire a waste collector instead? 


  • Urgency – how urgent is it that you clear the house entirely? If you need stuff gone now, see our same day house clearance section. If you have a bit of time, use it wisely to organise and research.


  • Time – a good reference is to allow half a day for every room you need to clear. This assumes there are 2 people and there’s good access between the room and the vehicle. You might also want to factor in the time it will take beforehand to decide what to keep and what to throw away. Having asked yourself who will help you and the transport available, think about how long it will realistically take you and put some time aside accordingly.


  • Destinations for items – where will you take the items after clearance? Where are the local recycling centres near you? Do you need to rent some storage space for items that you want to keep, but don’t have space for immediately? 



10. Common mistakes and how to avoid them

Common mistake #1:

Starting your house clearance without a plan. Good organisation and research goes a long way in saving you time and money. 

What to do: research your local recycling centres. What are the rules about entry in cars or vans? Often, vehicles bigger than a standard car need a permit to enter the premises. What items do they accept? What items are prohibited? This tends to vary depending on the recycling centre. Knowing what can go where should help you organise your items better which is equally as important. 

Common mistake #2:

Lack of organisation. Organising items is likely to take the most time, so it’s worth doing this part thoroughly. 

What to do: separate your items into the following categories:

  • Keep
  • Sell or donate
  • Disposal/ get rid

A great approach to this initial organisation is to use a sticker/ post it note traffic light system. Use red for items you’re keeping. Orange for selling/donation and green for disposal. Once you’ve done this, the next step would be to place the items with the same coloured stickers together. Then you will have a much clearer idea of what to do next and how big the job is.

Deciding what to keep and what to clear can be tricky. It might help to have somebody helping you who is not sentimental about your items. You could enlist the help of a decluttering service (such as A Tidy Mind) or ask a friend.  

Once your items are organised, you can estimate exactly how much you have. Thinking about how many standard skips or Luton vans the items will fit into will help any DIYers to plan the actual clearance. Taking photos or videos is usually the best way to communicate how much stuff you have to your hired house clearance company. 

Common mistake #3:

Ignoring safety measures. This isn’t just about watching out for a dodgy back or splinters – house clearances can expose you to hazardous waste. 

What to do: if there might be asbestos, you should be prepared with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment i.e. gloves, masks, safety glasses). Try and wear clothing that covers all exposed skin, trousers that are a bit more protective (like jeans) and good shoes. 


house clearance near me packing


11. What is a probate house clearance?

Probate is a procedure that allows somebody to take control of the estate of a deceased person. Somebody’s estate includes their home, money assets and more. Usually, the deceased person’s will legally designates somebody to clear the property. 

If these are your circumstances, your solicitor will explain in full detail about probate, including valuations and probate clearances. These are legal agreements needed to assess the value of the house and determine whether you will need to pay any inheritance tax to HMRC.

In the case of a probate house clearance, there may be items that were left to somebody in the deceased person’s will (legal term – bequeathed). It’s important to identify these items before the bigger clearance takes place. 

There are companies which specialise in probate house clearances. They are designed to help with the bereavement process by handling as much of the house clearance procedure as necessary – this could be the entire thing. As always, remember to research these companies properly and make sure they have positive reviews.


12. Do local councils do house clearance?

No, councils do not offer house clearance services. Even if you have to clear a council-owned property, it is your obligation to either do it yourself or hire a house clearing service.

Councils do, however, offer bulky waste collection services. Their terms are usually quite strict: they can’t come into any building (outhouses, garages, sheds included) to collect and they’re limited to items they’re allowed to collect. This usually covers white goods and basic bulky items, including furniture. Council collections tend to be better for a single item or to have a few items removed, rather than a full house clearance. You also need to be a resident (i.e. have a registered address) in the area to qualify for council waste collections. 

Check your local council’s website for details. Each council has different charges, ways to book a bulky waste collection service and terms of collection. 



13. Same day house clearance

Where possible, we recommend arranging your house clearance service at least a few days in advance. This saves you money and allows time for preparation and research into the company.

However, if you need to get rid of things urgently, there are options:

  • Use LoveJunk to find your nearest and fastest collector
  • Search for same day house clearance companies in your area – making sure they are insured and licensed! Be prepared to pay more for an immediate service.

See our Guide to Same Day Rubbish Removal.


14. Privacy & Identity theft

Remember to be very careful with any documents containing personal details when clearing out a house. In particular, consider shredding/ burning things like old bank statements and health records in case the wrong person gets their hands on them. Better to be safe than sorry.


Further reading

Thanks for reading! We hope you found this guide helpful. Other resources you may find useful:


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