How much does a house clearance cost?

Sometimes, you find yourself in a position where you need to remove all the items from a house. This is typically called a ‘house clearance’.

There can be a variety of reasons why a house might need to be cleared. You might need to prepare a property for sale or rent, clear it out before conducting building work, or might be bereaved, and dealing with the home of a recently passed away family member.

Clearing a house, even in the best of circumstances, is never an easy task, and you might opt to hire professionals who can carry it out quickly and efficiently, rather than doing it yourself.

In this guide we look at house clearance companies, analysing how they differ, examining how much they charge for their services, and how to find a reliable one.

What are house clearance companies?

House clearance companies are businesses which specialise in removing and disposing of items in a property. Typically, they will arrive with a large Luton-style van and remove all the items from the rooms they’ve been tasked to clear. These companies operate on a variety of scales, ranging from clearing out single rooms and garages to entire business units and offices.

There can be a wide variety of motivations for employing a house clearance company. These can range from:

  • Preparing your house for sale
  • Landlords clearing up after bad tenants have left
  • Property developers tidying up at the end of a building project
  • Clearing an abandoned or disused property
  • Managing a property that has experienced high levels of hoarding
  • Helping clear the home in preparation for the sale of a deceased relatives estate
  • Dealing with the aftermath of somebody having taken their own life

House clearances in sensitive situations

Some house clearance companies will hold specific licences obtained from their local council allowing them to work in sensitive or hazardous situations. These could include helping you deal with the home of a deceased relatives or families dealing with a hoarding disorder.

A good house clearance company will operate under nondisclosure agreements so that whoever employs them does not need to worry about their homes being exposed to the public.

How much do house clearance companies charge?

House clearance companies offer a variety of services and charge varying rates depending on the task.

Some charge by how much volume all of the house clearance items take up in a van. Others charge by weight, and some offer their services for a flat fee.

While house clearing companies have different methods for working out how much they will charge you, various organisations have attempted to determine indicative rates. These include the trades comparison websites and the Anti-Fly Tipping Alliance.

Checkatrade found the following:

  • Extra small clearances: Clearances weighing less than 250kg and taking up less than a quarter of a large van start from £175. This will normally be enough to clear a couple of rooms or a very small apartment.
  • Small clearances: A house clearance of up to 500kg, or a half-filled large van, starts from £325. This will usually be enough to clear a one-bedroom sized apartment or smaller less substantially furnished house.
  • Average clearances: Clearances of up to 750kg, or three-quarters of a large van, start from £400. Clearing a typical 3-bedroom house will normally cost about this much.
  • Large Clearances: Bigger clearances, of up to a ton or a whole van load typically start from £595. A full van will typically be necessary for larger houses, or those with more items in them.

This data broadly matches with the numbers put together by the Anti-Fly Tipping Alliance.

For a single van load of household rubbish or waste, these costs are broken down as:

  • Disposal costs: The biggest cost associated with a legitimate clearance service is disposing of the waste. As UK law does not allow dumping, house clearance companies must dispose of general waste at an authorised waste transfer station. Disposing of a full van of waste can cost them as much as £300.
  • Employee expenses: House clearing is hard work, and to retain a good team home clearance companies must pay a fair wage. A team of three house clearers can cost a company more than £215 a day in wages alone.
  • Vehicle costs: Running a large van is not cheap. Maintenance, fuel, road tax, vehicle insurance and business insurance all add up. When also taking into account the cost of purchasing the vehicle all of this can cost a company as much as £100 a day.
  • General costs: In addition to the costs of physically removing waste, clearance companies will also have many additional costs. These can vary, but they can be as much as £90 a day.

In total, these add up to running costs of more than £700 a day. While teams can do multiple jobs in a day, and companies can make use of economies of scale to minimise these costs, they still demonstrate why house clearance can be so expensive.

Additional costs

Beyond the base rate of a house clearance firm, some items may incur an additional charge.

For example, electronics will typically always attract an additional charge. This is because they are subject to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, a government initiative aimed at reducing the amount of electronic waste sent to landfills. These items must be disposed of properly. TVs and monitors are likely to add an additional cost of around £20 each. Smaller electronic devices like kettles, irons, toasters, computers, lamps, and telephones can add as much as £10 each.

Fridges and freezers incur a substantially larger additional charge. These are often as much as £100 each for disposing of the largest models. This is because the environmentally harmful chemicals used in their construction need to be carefully extracted to minimise damage to the planet.

Large, awkward items made up of a variety of materials like mattresses and sofas can also often warrant an additional charge. This is often in the range of £25 – £65, depending on their size. This is because regulations are in place to prevent mattresses and similar furniture from ending up in landfills. Their bulk and composite nature poses substantial problems, and therefore such products must be broken down and recycled.

Specialist clearance for the homes of people suffering from hoarding can be substantially more expensive. Bills of £1000 or more are not unusual. This is because the homes of people who hoard tend to have substantially more individual items in them and can pose hazards to the team conducting the work.

Clearance companies may also add a substantial fee if access to the property is difficult and extra measures have to be taken regarding this. For example, houses without easy van access, or apartments on high floors may cost more to clear than easier-to-access properties.

Is using a cheap house clearance company a good idea?

Unfortunately, trying to get a bargain on home clearance is rarely a good idea.

Many cowboy contractors go into the business for a short time and offer impossibly good deals. All too often this results in fly-tipping your items across the countryside, rather than disposing of them responsibly.

This is not just awful for the environment. It can also blow back badly on you. Fly-tipping is illegal, and possessions can often be traced back to their original owner more easily than the company who disposed of them. This could ultimately lead to you facing a titanic fine of up to £50,000, or even potentially a prison sentence should you not be able to prove you employed somebody to dispose of your rubbish.

How do I find a reliable house clearance company?

Because of this risk, it is critical to employ a legitimate house clearing company.

When looking for a firm to undertake your clearance, you need to ensure they have three things:

  • The approval to dispose of waste from your local authority,
  • Public liability insurance to protect you and the public in case anything goes wrong,
  • and a waste collection registration number

While avoiding cheap cowboy contractors is very important, you shouldn’t let a firm trick you into overpaying either.  Use a comparison site and ask for a quote breakdown before they begin work, so you are aware of any potential hidden costs.

Finally, you should double-check that your firm of choice is willing to do the whole job, rather than just part of it before you pay them. Some house clearance companies specialise in small, or large items, and may be unwilling to remove everything from your property. Ensure that the company you choose fits your requirements.

Your chosen company should complete a Waste Transfer Note and give you a copy. Even legitimate house clearers forget this occasionally, so you should ensure you get a note for each load taken. This is so that you can prove you paid a professional home clearance company.

Can I make money from the stuff in my house?

Yes… in theory.

Some home clearance companies have close relationships with auction houses, where any of the more valuable items found will be put up for sale.

These companies often accept the valuable items in your home as a form of payment, making them more accessible if you are operating on a smaller budget. Normally, however, a company will not be able to recoup all their costs from the items in a home and will still charge a fee, albeit reduced, for their services.

It is worth noting that these home clearance companies tend to take a percentage cut from anything they auction off and will still charge you for the disposal of things which do not sell.

If you can sell your old electronics or furniture at a car boot sale or online using services like eBay or Facebook marketplace, this can often be more financially rewarding than letting a home clearance company do the work for you.

Any particularly valuable items such as antiques, should be removed and sold separately. This is both to maximise your profit and to ensure the clearance company does not damage or dispose of them by accident.

Do charities conduct home clearances?


Lots of charities, such as Shelter and Age UK, will come to your home and remove good quality items they can resell for free. This could include furniture, books, toys, media, and clothing. While these services often only work in areas around their branches, many charities are active and offer similar services across the country. This can substantially reduce the amount you need to pay your house clearers.

Some charities, such as the British Heart Foundation offer a full house clearing service along the same lines as a house clearing company. While prices are typically like a for-profit company, ranging from £400 – £900, using a charity like the British Heart Foundation allows you to contribute to a local good cause.

How do house clearance companies differ from similar businesses?

House clearing companies can be compared to three other types of businesses: Removal companies, declutterers, and deep cleaning companies.

Removal companies differ from house clearance companies in that they move your possessions from one location to another, while clearance companies will dispose of your possessions for you.

Declutterers are similar to clearing companies in that they remove possessions from your home and life but differ in that they are typically not set up to remove large items or substantial quantities of things. Often offering a more holistic approach including aspects of interior design or lifestyle coaching, declutterers will go through the possessions in a home and work out if they are benefiting their owner. This can work well in conventional homes but may be unsuitable for many of the tasks home clearance companies undertake.

Deep cleaning companies are often employed to go into properties after house clearing companies have done their work and conduct a high-intensity cleaning of the property. These companies typically are not specialised in removing substantial quantities of items, and instead use specialised equipment to clean properties that are in a worse condition than most people or typical cleaning companies would be willing to tackle. Like decluttering companies, many deep cleaning companies offer non-disclosure agreements to protect the confidentiality of their clients.

A step-by-step guide to the house clearance process

After deciding to employ a house clearing company you will need to get organised.

The house clearing process normally follows four steps:

Step 1 – Choosing your house clearance providers

Different clearance companies offer different prices and services- some will only collect certain things, while others may offer to auction off any valuable possessions. You should ensure that you choose a company which fits your needs and has all the necessary paperwork to do so legally.

Step 2 – Preparation

You must prepare your home to be cleared. This involves going through your stuff and separating any items you are not certain about disposing of. You should box these up and separate them from everything which is going to be cleared.

Make sure that any important paperwork, such as birth, death, or share certificates are secured before you let the clearance firm into your house. While their employees are trained and responsible people, they still make mistakes and losing important documents can cause massive problems. You should also ensure that any potentially valuable items are earmarked as such, to ensure that the clearance firm takes them to auction rather than the dump.

Step 3 – Attending the clearance

Attending the property clearance yourself is a very good idea. This is because the clearers may uncover things you were not aware of or have forgotten about and they will need to know what to do with them.  Being present allows you to deal with these issues as they come up and ensures that they do not leave anything they were supposed to take. Your clearance company should provide you with a Waste Transfer Note for each load they take away.

Step 4 – Following up

File your waste transfer notes somewhere safe. You will need to keep hold of these for two years. If your clearance company is affiliated with a local auction house, they will give you the dates when they intend to sell your possessions. Attending the auction and seeing how much people pay for the items live can be fun but this is optional. After the auction is complete the firm will give you your cut, typically 75 – 80%.

Is doing a DIY house clearance a good idea?

While clearing a house yourself can be a lot of hard work, if you have the time and willpower, doing so can save you money.

This is because, as a homeowner, you do not have to pay to dispose of many types of domestic waste at a local authority recycling centre. While some items, such as electronics or large furniture may still incur a surcharge, you can avoid paying much of what a professional waste disposal company would.

In addition, many items, ranging from small things, like books, comic books, toys, and electronics to larger items, such as furniture and appliances can often be resold on eBay or Facebook marketplace for a surprisingly good price. For example, old video games have been gaining substantial value recently and many different types of items can hold surprising value for collectors.

If you do decide to carry out a DIY home clearance this will often mean having to hire a skip or van. These can cost several hundred pounds per day, incentivising you to rush to complete the job. Keeping this in mind, it is worth considering that as a rule of thumb, it takes two people half a day to clear a typical room. Make sure you organise enough time, or enough hands to get the job done.

It is worth keeping in mind that in some cases, it may be more expensive to keep a property longer to clear it yourself than it is to hire professionals to do it over a shorter period. Consider your ongoing and opportunity costs before making a hasty decision to do the clearance yourself.

In summary

House clearing companies specialise in removing and disposing of all the items from your property. The reality is this can be hard work, with many associated costs, so these companies charge for their services.

Your typical house clearance will cost about £400, although larger properties, or those with more items in them can be substantially more expensive. Some items, like electrical and electronic goods, mattresses, and large furniture will also incur additional cost, with each such item requiring an individual payment. Many house clearance companies work to offset some of these costs by selling some of the possessions they clear out at auction on behalf of their customers, however, they typically charge around 20% commission to do so. In theory, it is possible to make a profit on a house clearance, though in reality, very few people do.

It is advisable to ensure that your chosen house clearing company is legitimate. You should check that it has been approved by your local authority, has a waste collection registration number, and is covered by public liability insurance.

You should also make sure to secure your most valuable possessions and documents before employing a house clearance company. While these businesses are often staffed with skilled and hardworking individuals, even the best staff make occasional mistakes, and losing something critical can be heartrending.

Has this article been helpful? Let us know by leaving a short comment below.