How Should You Clear A House When Someone Dies In The UK?

The purpose of this blog post is to help in answering the question of how should one clear a house when someone dies. While we will primarily focus on the answer to this question, we will also explore the difference in the time frame of clearing a privately owned property versus a rented one or a council-provided accommodation. 

How Should You Clear A House When Someone Dies?

If you are responsible for clearing a house after someone dies, you may consider the following points as you plan to perform the necessary tasks:

  • Wait for the will to be read before starting to pack or move any items from the house. The will is usually read after the funeral if held and it is essential to know about how the deceased has chosen to assign the items that they leave behind; especially in the case of valuable items. In case of the absence of a will, you may need the advice of a solicitor on how to proceed further.
  • After the will has been read you should wait to see if you are the appointed person who is responsible for clearing the house. If there is no will or there is no mention in it of who is responsible for clearing the house, you can choose to volunteer to do so.
  • Depending on the scale of the task, the size of the estate and if any inheritance tax is to be applied to the valuables left behind by the deceased, you may need to apply for probate whether you are the executor nominated in the deceased’s will or a close relative opting to take on the responsibility.
  • When your responsibility becomes obvious you should start by setting a target date for completion. This should be a realistic timeline that does not overburden you or drag for months for its completion.
  • If there are many valuable items such as jewellery or paintings, you may need to get a professional appraisal for the task(s) at hand. You may also consider holding an estate sale of the items if the immediate family members are not keen to keep them or are not able to do so.
  • You may need volunteers within the friends and family circle so go ahead and ask around. Once you have others to help you this is where you can divide the task at hand and assign responsibilities so that everyone worlds under a system.
  • When you start clearing the house take time to take photographs. The person clearing the house would have some emotional connection to the deceased and even the items that they are responsible for organising and clearing up. One should not merely attend to the responsibility of clearing a house after someone dies but also allow oneself to process the grief one may be experiencing.
  • Acknowledge that you may need an emotional break during the process so set aside time for yourself. Allocate timelines and responsibilities in such a way that everyone, including yourself, gets some time off from the responsibility of clearing the house and yet can meet the target date of completion. 
  • If there are items that the family wishes to keep set them aside. If there are mementoes that close friends or neighbours of the deceased would like to have considered giving those to them. Lastly, donate as much as you deem necessary to charity; however, do make sure that the items are in a suitable condition.
  • Consider hiring professional movers if there are large-sized items to be moved around. Once that is done, you may need to have the property cleaned up professionally. You may also need to have repairs or maintenance taken care of especially if the property is to be sold. If you don’t have a legal advisor to seek guidance from, you should seek the services of one who can guide you through the taxation and sale of the proprietary once it has been cleared.

How Many Days Do You Get To Clear A Rented House When The Tenant Dies?

In most cases, the terms of such situations are mutually agreed upon in the tenancy agreement which states the number of days that the next of kin (or any other appointee nominated by the tenant) will have to clear the rented property occupied by the deceased tenant.

If that is not the case, the usual time assigned in such cases is usually 4 weeks for someone to clear the house, take care of the deceased’s belongings and hand over the property to the landlord. 

During this time, the nominated executor mentioned in the deceased’s will or the closest family member in the absence of a will can carry out the responsibilities of managing the deceased’s belongings and making arrangements for them to be moved out of the rented property. 

There are professional clearing service providers such as House Clearance London & UK | Services From The Experts who can be contacted to assist in moving out personal possessions from the property.

However, suppose the deceased is survived by a spouse or a partner who had shared the residence with them during their lifetime. In that case, the surviving partner can take over the tenancy agreement under a mutual understanding with the landlord. 

How Many Days Do You Get To Clear A Council House When The Tenant Dies?

Usually, you can get 14 rent-free days to clear the council house when the tenant dies. The person responsible for handling the deceased’s affairs should inform the council authorities of the passing away of the tenant so that the terms of clearance of the premises are agreed upon and if there are any rental dues to be cleared, they are paid before the end of the 14 days to manage clearance and handing over of the house keys.

If the family member is unable to clear the house within these 14 days, they can discuss a mutually agreed timeframe with the council for clearance and handing over of keys. They will be charged weekly rent during this time.

If someone was sharing the council house with the deceased tenant and they do not wish to continue living in the same premises or it is too big for their needs, they will be given 4 weeks from the council to make other living arrangements. 


This article has covered all the details that one may deem necessary when it comes to clearing a house when someone dies. One may find guidance in terms of how to manage the practical side of the task while handling grief at the same time. Additionally, there are also some suggestions here if the property in question is rented and one does not have the luxury of time to clear out the premises.


Clearing out a house after a relative dies | Local Conveyancing Direct

What to do when a Council tenant dies – The tenant lived alone

Dealing with the deceased’s rented home | nidirect