Gransnet forums

Bereavement

House Clearance

(50 Posts)
GrandmaKT Wed 25-Sep-19 00:16:11

My dear pop died this week. Fortunately he was a good age (90), and all his children managed to visit him in hospital before he passed away.
We all live over a hundred miles away and as the other siblings are still working and I have recently retired, I am doing most of the organising.
Currently I am tied up with death certuficate, funeral arrangements etc, but I have hanging over me the thoughts about clearing his belongings.
Friends whose parents have died have had their own homes so they could do this at their leisure, when they felt ready, or else were in homes and didn't have much in the way of furniture etc.
My dad was in rented accommodation (supported hiusing). We have 4 weeks to vacate the property. There isn't much of any value, but what there is is bulky (mobility scooter, electric chair, TV). I am thinking of trying to sell these on Fb or ebay and then getting a house clearance firm in to take away everything else. Does this sound the right way? Does anyone have any experience with house clearances etc?
I really don't feel ready to deal with this, but circumstances mean I have to! I can't stay here for long and as I said we only have 4 weeks anyway.

crazyH Wed 25-Sep-19 00:24:50

First, try and sell scooter , tv, and any bulky stuff. Try the local Gumtree. I have had good success via them. I didn't find ebay successful. For me.
Good luck...you have 4 weeks, so don't panic. But the earlier, the earlier you can get with the other things you need to do.

Good luck !

cornergran Wed 25-Sep-19 07:30:19

We had the same issue with rented property when my Dad died. Easier for us though as we lived within an hour’s travel. The time pressure felt impossible on top of organising his funeral and our own grief.

We did manage. His mobility scooter was sold back to the provider as the easiest option. Immediate family talked about their wishes for sentimental or practical items they wanted to keep, we put these away out of sight and family made their own arrangement to remove or simply took them away after the funeral. . Wider family were invited to take any remaining small sentimental items that meant something to them after the funeral. Most of the ornaments disappeared that way.

The development house manager was very helpful. She left a note explaining that another resident would welcome a couple of items of furniture and would happily pay, we decided to simply ask for a charity donation. She oeganised the removal to the other resident and advised on charities who would collect and also a house clearer she knew was both speedy and kind in their approach.

As we preferred to donate we took clothes to charity shops, had furniture and larger items collected by the British Heart Foundation and then took the remaining useable small items to charity.

I hope you can get some support with the practicalities grandmakt, the time pressure is a lot to manage alongside your grief.

Can you stay in the area for at least a week, more really? If there’s a house manager do talk to them, they will have a wealth of experience. Can your siblings really not share the responsibility? Take a few days away from work? If they won’t/can’t then explain your plan and seek support elsewhere if you can.

It is hard, there will be a way, it just doesn’t feel like it right now. I’m sorry for your loss and wish you well.

GrandmaKT Wed 25-Sep-19 08:07:35

Thank you both for taking the time to reply with really helpful caring answers. It's at times like this that I love gransnet!

Purpledaffodil Wed 25-Sep-19 08:30:50

Condolences GrandmaKT. Had the same situation as my dear Dad was in a Housing Association house. A friend who was setting up home in a hurry had dining table and sofas. Local hospice charity came and took a couple of bits only. We donated clothes where we could and removed items of sentimental and personal nature. Final clearance was done by professional firm, mostly off duty firemen! They were very helpful and sensitive, advised us not to be there for actual clearance as it is upsetting. They removed everything including taking up carpets and heavy bedroom furniture. Then they swept house through. It did cost money but was worth it.
Also a word of warning, the delightful Housing Association sent a Notice to Quit to my deceased father! I had already notified them of his death and protested at the insensitivity. But apparently it was “procedure”. I was very cross.

BlueSapphire Wed 25-Sep-19 08:35:07

Remember having to clear DFil's flat after he died, so difficult as we live in the East Midlands and he was the other side of Manchester. DH, (the only child), was still working and could not get extra time off, so we were going up every weekend, and as it was council property we had a very limited amount of time to do it. A house clearance company took the bulky stuff, clothes and other stuff were collected by charity, we hired a van and took what we wanted, and what was left went to the tip. And the council charged us because we left the perfectly good carpets and vertical blinds. Then a few years later we had to do the same with DM's council bungalow, which entailed long journeys again.
Hope all goes well for you, GrandmaKT.

Flossieturner Wed 25-Sep-19 09:30:10

Some local charities do house clearance.. the Air Ambulance is one in our area. We used St Francis Hospice. They offered two services . One was free where they took just what they could sell. We used the pay for service which took everything. They were brilliant. There was a locked chest which they could not open. They contacted me to say that they had opened it at the site and would I,like the contents returned to me.

Septimia Wed 25-Sep-19 10:24:54

Clearing my FiL's house took us months, partly because important family members lived a long way away. At least having a deadline will concentrate your efforts!

We started by sorting out things that family might want like photos or certain pieces of furniture.

Then we sent decent clothes and similar items to a charity shop. Other fabric items went to one of those places that pays you by weight. We didn't get much, but it got rid of them to somewhere sensible.

One of the charity shops was happy to take much of the rest, although they only wanted certain items of furniture. They sent a van which belonged to a small local firm who regularly did collections for them.

We then got the same firm to remove all the rubbish that was left. We had to pay for that, but it meant that everything was dealt with.

optimist Wed 25-Sep-19 10:43:05

I would GIVE everything away..........on Freecycle...........helps someone who is in need. I did this with my husbands possessions when he died and felt that it did some good. Making money out of it didnt feel right somehow.

Bluesmum Wed 25-Sep-19 10:55:10

Condolences on your bereavement. I have certain items which are surplus to requirements since my dh passed away, a walking frame, shower chair, Sarah Steady etc which I have not been able to give away, so I think a charity that does house clearance is by far the best option for you, especially given your tight time scale. Good luck, it’s a very emotional time but keeping busy with the practical chores can be a blessing, at least it was for me xxxx

LondonGranny Wed 25-Sep-19 10:58:56

Another vote for charities that do house clearance. A friend got British Heart Foundation (if I remember right) to do it.
Charities are moving into this area because they've lost so many donations because of ebay.

Nanna58 Wed 25-Sep-19 11:00:00

Would it help to rent a storage unit for the bigger items you will sell, that would buy you a bit more time.

humptydumpty Wed 25-Sep-19 11:02:00

If you need time to sort out things, why not organise self-locking storage, hopefully you won't need it for long?

Shropshirelass Wed 25-Sep-19 11:05:20

I understand how you feel. I lost my Dad in April. It is hard to clear their personal items. I would sell all the bulky items and anything in good order put the rest into a charity shop. The British Heart Foundation will collect items of furniture, you can book this on line. Good luck.

Barmeyoldbat Wed 25-Sep-19 11:06:31

When my ex died my son sold stuff on gumtree and it went almost as soon as he put it on. So give yourself say 3 weeks to sell what you can and then give anything else away.

jaylucy Wed 25-Sep-19 11:07:53

Once you have taken away things of sentimental value - make sure you also take any paperwork you find, to be looked through later as several people I know were gung ho and threw a lot of items out that they later realised should have been kept.
My family took it upon themselves to go through the house and things out that were my mum's, while my father was away and we were on holiday, despite the fact that we still lived in the house! My father said it felt like we had been burgled.
When my father died as I took over the tenancy, it was a case of donating anything clothes wise that was ok to charity shops (there was a lot that was brand new he hadn't worn or could not fit into) the main thing was the chair he sat in - one that reclined and the seat lifted- this was donated to BHF shop locally and raised £94 for them ! As others have said, many charities will do a house clearance for you. We have an Emmaus charity near to us that will clear houses and sort through including recycling items they cannot sell in their own charity shop.

discodiva Wed 25-Sep-19 11:10:31

We had exactly the same thing happen to us when my mother in law went into a care home. We had 4 weeks to clear the flat. What was shocking for us was the amount of hoarding she'd done over the past 10 years and sadly keeping presents that she'd been given by us and her grandchildren and had never opened. However, what we did first was remove all personal items of a sentimental value photos/jewellery etc (amounted to a couple of boxes) and clothes (to take to the care home), put on facebook any furniture and big items still in good condition, and then got a house clearance team in to take the rest. I would be loathe to recommend storage because you could end up putting off the inevitable and it costing you a fortune to boot.
Good luck with whatever you decide.

ReadyMeals Wed 25-Sep-19 11:14:20

The housing management may have a clearance company they could recommend and deal with on your behalf. Might be worth asking them?

Sussexborn Wed 25-Sep-19 11:19:54

Heartfelt condolences! It’s hard loosing our parents!

The British Heart Foundation in our area are brilliant. They have always turned up precisely on time and been very helpful. They even let us know how much they received for the three piece suite. Our local hospice was chaotic. They may or may not turn up sometime over the next three months!

The downside to Freecycle is the number of people who ask for items and then don’t turn up. Especially difficult when the time frame is short.

Saxifrage Wed 25-Sep-19 11:31:01

Worth checking if there is a local motability, the one at the local shopping centre took my uncles mobility scooter. Good luck

Hellsbelles Wed 25-Sep-19 11:38:36

I'm sorry for your loss. When I was caring for my parent ( I lived 300+ miles away ) I wasn't working at the time as had been staying with them to care for them after a terminal diagnosis.
They passed away and as an only child ,all arrangements fell to me.
It wasn't feasible for me to return home, and then come back again for the funeral etc .
Once I had done the necessary death certificate, funeral arrangements, contacting banks , pensions , personal pensions , cancelling of various things etc, I set to work clearing the house.
It was our family home so was full of lots of memories and a fair bit of stuff that is collected from having lived their as my parents had for 55+ years. In 3 weeks I had managed it. Trips to charity shops , lots of paper shreading, bribing the system to take lots of black bags. It was hard but I knew it had to be done.
Can you write yourself a timetable , and set yourself goals to achieve them ?

GrandmaJan Wed 25-Sep-19 11:49:51

Condolences flowers x

Madmaggie Wed 25-Sep-19 11:52:31

Firstly commiserations on the death of your Pops. I found my local Emmaus charity were glad to take furniture for free, they do good work & it felt good to support them. The chaps they sent were workmanlike, polite & arrived promptly at pre arranged time. I bought some of those plastic lidded boxes that are everywhere and put all photos, papers, documents etc in them to be sorted or shredded back at my place at my leisure. It's surprising what documents you do need so don't be too hasty. I kept some knick naks etc in other lidded boxes to consider later, those things not wanted by myself or brother I listed & photoed and offered to nephews/nieces etc putting a time limit by which to ask (otherwise you just become a storage unit yourself, I still have someone trying to decide 6 yrs later!) There's a charity that takes mobility scooters for ex service personnel if you wish to donate it. Dad had a beauty but no one wanted to buy it, eventually I heard of an in law who was diagnosed with COPD and he was glad of it, I just asked him to make a donation to the Poppy appeal. The Council will remove bulky items for a charge (varies from council to council & they may count a mattress & base as 2 items etc). Remove what you want/need to keep first before considering using clearance firms plus they won't clear anything they can't sell. I didn't want the sense of intrusion so did it myself. It's worth considering paying for a "one off" clean from a cleaning company (charges vary) after you've emptied his flat - you will have enough to do. It's afterwards that it catches up with you so be kind to yourself too.

glammanana Wed 25-Sep-19 11:56:38

Sending condolences to you and your family.
I am also a fan of BHF they are very caring and do turn up when they say they will be aware that any soft furnishings such as sofa's and mattresses must have the fire retardancy certificate some people forget this.
The HA we are with insists that even curtains/carpets and the fittings are removed prior to handing in the keys.
I hope everything goes to plan for you flowers

Madmaggie Wed 25-Sep-19 11:56:39

Meant to say, charities won't take lounge chairs, sofas etc if they don't have fire retardent labels. Some won't take electrical goods either so you need to check.