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Household liquidation – procedure & costs

  • 8 min read

Dissolve a household

Death, nursing home, emigration – many reasons to dissolve a household: An overview of how best to declutter. The reasons for a household liquidation can be manifold, and it can involve the home of a deceased family member or when seniors move into a nursing or retirement home. But also, emigration or moving in with a life partner can be reasons for an apartment clearance.

We have prepared three blog articles for you, which revolve around the topic of moving. Have fun reading them!

Dissolve a household in Germany
The first step for the decluttering professionals is a free inspection

Do it yourself or let the professionals do it?

If you are liquidating a household yourself, you should first assess the household goods, sort through documents and save mementos. It takes much time and is often difficult. When you declutter, you often find people grateful to accept items still usable in charitable institutions.

Clothing stores, furniture exchanges, social department stores – charitable organizations such as the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund, the Diakonie, or the German Red Cross offer various opportunities to pass on clothing and household goods to the socially disadvantaged. But even charitable institutions don’t take everything. A rule of thumb can be the question, “Would I give this to a friend?”. After all, no one usually wants to buy what someone doesn’t want as a gift.

If that’s too much work for you, you should hire a decluttering company. Many moving companies also offer decluttering services, specializing entirely in household liquidations. The advantages of professional help are apparent, especially concerning the death. In mourning, some people are so mentally burdened that they are not up to the task of a household clear-out.

Funeral directors are often the first point of contact in such situations. In any case, funeral homes usually take care of the formalities for those affected, such as going to the registry office or notifying the pension fund and insurance companies. Also, special requests such as apartment liquidation are taken over by some enterprises. As a rule, they work together with professionals.

This is how a household liquidation works

A household liquidation is about the complete clearing out of the apartment. If you want to take care of a household clearing for a relative, for example, because they are moving into a nursing home, you should arrange this through a power of attorney. Only then can relatives take over all necessary legal transactions. This power of attorney can also specify the extent to which the authorized representative is permitted, for example, to give away valuable furniture or works of art instead of selling them.

Before you start clearing out, you should ask family members, friends, and neighbors whether they are willing to take over or buy items from the household. For art or jewelry, it is advisable to consult an expert. The options are: Sell, donate, or throw away the rest. But many documents accumulate over the years. Anything that is unimportant but contains data is better destroyed. Documents such as wills, powers of attorney, and dispositions should be archived.

If decluttering professionals are at work, household decluttering can be divided into five phases:

  1. Inspection/Appointment
  2. Written offer
  3. Order confirmation and scheduling
  4. Clearance
  5. Handover

As a rule, the first step is a free inspection. The decluttering professionals look at the apartment and clarify which items should be disposed of. After that, there is usually a written offer. If the supposed professional does not want to submit the offer in writing, this could be a sign that the provider is not reputable. You should at least inquire with three service providers.

Once the right offer has been found, an appointment is made for the household clearance. For everything to run smoothly, sufficient lead time is needed. It is also advisable to consider the notice period of the rental contract, necessary renovation work, and, if applicable, municipal collection dates for bulky waste when setting the date. Depending on the size of the apartment, such an eviction takes either a few hours or up to several days. Once the apartment is empty, it is usually handed over to the client in a clean condition.

This is how a household liquidation works

Costs depend on many factors

The costs depend on the effort, respectively, on whether a company is hired or not.

These are the factors that determine the price:

  • Quantity and type of household goods to be disposed of.
  • Current disposal prices
  • Number of employees and days required
  • Access route and parking possibilities
  • Location of the object – for example, floor, slope
  • Access inside the home – for instance, whether there is an elevator or not

If companies advertise with the slogan “Recyclables will be credited,” this can positively impact costs. The company sells the items, which reduces the final price of the household liquidation.

Those who dissolve the household alone do not have any costs for a decluttering company but must calculate costs for a container, recycling yards, or hazardous waste. The prices for this vary greatly depending on the region and container size.

Of course, it is cheaper to make an appointment with the local bulky waste collection service – which is even free of charge, depending on the region.

This disadvantage is that it can take a while until an appointment is made. In addition, bulky waste is only collected on working days – you can also fill a container at leisure on the weekend. It is usually on-site shortly after the order is placed.

Find a reputable provider

Find a reputable provider
professionals can be a great help

There are also black sheep in the decluttering industry as in any industry. Some do not dispose of it professionally, and others do not leave the apartment swept clean or are unreliable and do not meet deadlines. A good sign of a reputable provider is good communication. Beware of offers that are too good to be true: “Free clearing out” – that’s what dubious companies like to advertise.

But such a household clearance is only really free of charge if there are enough items in the inventory that can still be sold and thus cover the company’s expenses. Reputable providers look at the household during an on-site appointment and then make a binding offer. Thorough and professional decluttering companies will not be able to quote a household liquidation price without seeing it for themselves. These aspects should be considered when looking for a reputable contractor:

Will the home and possessions be inspected?

Questions you should clarify beforehand:

  • Is the inspection free of charge?
  • Are the prices open and transparent?
  • Estimate or fixed price? – Fixed prices are always better; with an estimate, the actual price may be up to 20 percent higher than previously estimated.
  • What is the hourly rate, or is there a fixed price?
  • How much time is estimated?
  • Are salvageable furniture and other items offset against the expense fee?
  • Does the company have liability insurance?
What happens to the household goods?

What happens to the household goods?

In a lifetime, many people accumulate many belongings. Many things are no longer usable. But for many old things, there are lovers. The demand is usually high, whether through an ad in the classifieds of the daily newspaper, at the flea market, or via Internet platforms. Some auction houses even offer household or estate auctions directly on site. However, this is usually more worthwhile for larger estates or many valuables and antiques.

But be careful! If collections are part of the inventory, such as stamps, coins, or porcelain, these should be valued and marketed by a specialized auctioneer. Otherwise, you may sell the collection far below its actual value.

What else to think about

In a household liquidation, however, the apartment must be empty at the end. Contracts around the apartment must also be deregistered, re-registered, or terminated. Learn more.

These include:

  • In the case of rented apartments: Rental agreement
  • Gas, water, electricity
  • Fixed network connection, Internet
  • Broadcasting fee
  • Newspaper/magazine subscriptions
  • Deregistration of the car
  • Insurance, such as household or homeowners insurance
  • Forwarding request to the post office
  • It is also necessary to clarify whether there are any outstanding bills.

Conclusion – professionals can be a great help

All in all, a household liquidation means a lot of work and emotions. If you are not up to it, you can get professional help. If everything is well discussed with the decluttering company beforehand, you don’t even have to be there for the clearing. Because even if grandma’s couch is no longer worth anything – there may be a lot of memories attached to it. To see it then on a heap of garbage can hurt additionally.

Please keep in mind that we do our best to provide credible and up-to-date information, but we are not an official advisor (in the sense of the Legal Services Act, RDG) for taxes, legal matters, and the like. Our service does not replace an individual consultation with legal assistance, and we provide digital tools and automated workflows to assist with the residence deregistration and related necessary steps.

Image sources:

  1. Francesca Tosolini / Unsplash
  2. Kristian Macki / Unsplash
  3. Birgit Loit / Unsplash
  4. Handiwork NYC / Unsplash
  5. Kadarius Seegars / Unsplash

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Anne grows company awareness threw various online/ social media channels. Further to this, she manages editorial planning and execution.