Clearing out the apartment in the event of death: 4 tips on how to clear out the household successfully

  • Who is responsible for clearing out the apartment in the event of a death? If a tenant or owner of a household dies, the heirs are responsible for removing possessions from the apartment or house if the living space is not to be taken over by them. If there are no heirs, the landlord is responsible for the eviction.
  • What preparations need to be made for clearing out? What is particularly important is a comprehensive inventory in which things that you would like to keep are sorted out. In addition, everything that is needed to transport and dispose of household goods should be organized and the costs should be well taken into account.
  • In addition to clearing out the apartment, what else should you consider? In the event of the death of a relative, their rental agreement, insurance for the living space, contracts for electricity, water, etc. as well as any subscriptions must also be terminated. A forwarding order can also make sense so that mail addressed to the deceased person arrives in your mailbox.

Sweep-clean room with moving boxes and cleaning supplies

The death of a relative is always a difficult situation that can be particularly emotionally stressful and challenges the psyche. The organizational issues that the surviving relatives face can also become a hurdle when saying goodbye. The Dismantling or clearing out your apartment is usually an unavoidable task after death of a relative. We provide you with important information about the legal situation, explain what options you have for this task and what the preparation and process of a household liquidation looks like.

1. As heirs, relatives are responsible for the household liquidation

Dice form the word heritage

With an inheritance, you also take over rental agreements, insurance, etc.

In the event of the death of a relative Any rental agreement does not expire automatically, but goes to the Heirs as part of the estate above, whose job it is then to terminate the contract if the apartment is not to be taken over. The landlord must be informed of this within one month of the death The rental agreement can be terminated within the statutory period of three months. However, many landlords are accommodating in the face of the bereavement and allow the tenancy to be ended earlier.

If the inheritance has been rejected or if no heirs of the tenant can be found, the landlord can be obliged to take care of the property clearance. However, he may only clear out or clear out the property once the question of inheritance has been finally clarified.

1.1. Clean out and clear out your apartment independently

The cheaper approach is to clear out the household yourself, but the organization and effort involved in clearing out the home can be an enormous burden for those left behind. Be clear about this challenge in advance.

An independently carried out dissolution of the household is This is particularly useful if many items from the deceased’s home are to remain in the family’s possession. Especially in larger houses that need to be cleared out, it is advisable to have enough active helpers at your side, otherwise the time and work required for the individual will be too great.

1.2. Hire a professional company to clear out

moving helper transporting boxes and checking off a list

A clearing company ensures that the household clearance runs smoothly.

Alternatively, you have the option of hiring a professional company Clearing out or dissolving the apartment. In particular, If larger quantities need to be disposed of, this service proves to be extremely useful. Professional declutterers discreetly take care of the removal of all items from the household, proper separation and disposal and, if necessary, final cleaning of the living space.

However, when clearing out the apartment in the event of a death, household items with sentimental value can be lost more easily if strangers are at work. Therefore, it is recommended to However, you should go through the living space carefully before evacuation to secure emotionally charged items. We provide you with an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of having your apartment cleared out by a professional company:


  • Time and work are saved
  • additional burden in the mourning phase is reduced
  • Separating items may be easier


  • higher costs than doing it yourself
  • Well-preserved furniture and items with sentimental value may go missing

Bulky waste in the yard

When a household that has been inhabited for a long time is being cleared out, a lot of rubbish can accumulate.

2. How to optimally prepare for the house clearance

Get rid of furniture that is in good condition

Things that are in good condition but are not used by you do not have to be thrown away. Many pieces of furniture can be sold for little money or for free through advertisements or a flea market. The advantage here is that buyers usually take care of the collection themselves. By donating to charitable organizations, your furniture will also be put to good use.

Before you clear out the apartment yourself in the event of a death or have it professionally cleared out, an inventory should be carried out. Think about it, which furniture and which personal belongings of the deceased should remain in the family and whether you would like to resell, give away or donate furniture or clothing that is still in good condition.

If you hire a company to clear out the apartment or house in the event of a death, you should discuss in advance whether certain furniture should be left behind. At best these will stored in another location before evacuation. However, if this is not possible, you can also mark the furniture conspicuously to avoid misunderstandings.

A price range should also be estimated in advance with a professional company. Because the costs usually depend on a number of individual factors, such as the volume of items to be disposed of, the accessibility of the living space and of course the living space itself, Many companies offer a non-binding and free on-site inspection. This makes it easier to assess the effort involved in clearing out the apartment and, in the best case, a fixed price can be agreed upon.

A notice: In connection with the inheritance tax return, costs for clearing out can be offset in the form of an estate liability. If in doubt, consult a tax advisor to clarify the details in each individual case.

If the household is being cleared out on your own, the following preparations make sense:

container with bulky waste

Bulky waste and the like can be collected in a container.

  1. Ask relatives or friends who could help you with the clearing out and discuss the time frame for the action.
  2. Find out about nearby disposal points, bulky waste sites and, if necessary, charitable organizations to which the household goods should be taken.
  3. Consider whether containers or transporters are needed and how these can be provided. Also make sure that there is parking and space for containers in front of the house. Costs may apply for a permit to park in public spaces.
  4. Calculate the costs for rented properties as well as those for the disposal of furniture and items.
  5. If necessary, register the disposal of bulky waste so that furniture that has been cleared out can be picked up promptly.

Older man looks at clock at a flea market

With a flea market, the deceased’s possessions find a second home.

3. This is how house clearances usually work

Once all the preparations have been made, it’s time to get down to business.

To clear the apartment yourself, you should First divide the rooms among certain people, so that no one gets in the way of each other while working. If you bring your household goods to the disposal or recycling points yourself, you should Nothing should just be placed randomly in front of the house, but should be sorted neatly. It makes sense to divide it into electronic waste and old electrical devices, old wood and residual bulky waste, metal scrap, residual waste and things that are to be resold or given away.

A notice: There are usually special containers for certain items at recycling centers Types of waste. Only if the discarded items are separated properly can they be recycled in an environmentally friendly manner.

Also prepare boxes, crates or sacks for transporting smaller items and disassemble particularly bulky and heavy furniture. Dismantling an old cupboard and transporting it in individual parts can prove to be more sensible than lugging it up stairs and narrow hallways with several helpers.

If you clear out your apartment through a professional company, you don’t have to worry about the environmentally friendly separation and transport of furniture and items, as this is usually taken care of by the company. In addition to removing furniture Clearing companies also take on dismantling or dismantling work of, for example, fitted kitchens, carpets or sanitary facilities, if this is desired.

The length of time it takes to clear out a household is of course individual and depends heavily on the size and condition of the apartment or house. As a guide, the rule of thumb is that clearing out a household with three rooms takes about one working day.

Depending on the agreement The cleared household will then be left swept clean. Many companies also offer additional services such as plugging boreholes and other small renovations. You usually do not need to be present during the eviction, which can also be a relief for your psyche.

van with furniture on the side of the road

Having a professional company on your side will take a lot of the work out of clearing out your home.

4. Cancel contracts and insurance policies relating to your house or apartment

In addition to clearing out the apartment in the event of a death, there are a few other things related to the living space that need to be done, for example terminating ongoing contracts. In addition to the rental agreement, this usually includes the following contracts:

  • Electricity
  • Broadcasting fee
  • Insurance (e.g. household contents insurance)
  • Landline and internet connection
  • if applicable, newspaper or magazine subscriptions

Most contracts can be terminated before the contractual notice period by presenting a death certificate. Given the circumstances, providers are usually very accommodating.

Image credits:, Stärk, Studio,,, JackF, (sorted chronologically or according to the order of the images used in the buying guide)