Clearing a flat after a death: what to do

A death in the family or among friends is already a stressful situation. If the person’s flat also has to be cleared, this can quickly become overwhelming. We show you what to do when clearing out a home following a death and how a professional house clearance service can help.

A death in the family or among friends is undoubtedly a difficult situation and emotionally very stressful. In addition to coping with the loss, there are many organisational matters that relatives have to take care of, including clearing out the person’s flat or house – especially if the deceased lived alone. It is often particularly difficult for relatives to clear out a home because they have to carefully go through all of the deceased’s personal possessions. 

From household objects to clothing – all personal items that were of great importance to the deceased person. However, house clearance can also be an important step in the grieving process – it allows loved ones to let go of material things and make space for memories.

The legal basis for clearing a flat in the event of a death

In the event of a death in Switzerland, legal succession takes effect. As a rule, these are direct relatives such as spouses, children or parents. All claims and obligations of the deceased are transferred to their heirs. This also includes the tenancy, as this does not automatically expire in the event of death. This means, among other things, that the tenancy agreement is transferred to the heirs and they must pay the outstanding monthly rent. To avoid incurring unnecessary costs, heirs should cancel the deceased’s existing tenancy agreement within the statutory notice period of three months to the next possible cancellation date.

The cancellation dates vary from canton to canton – there are usually two dates per year, one in spring and one in autumn. If other contractual agreements are stipulated in the tenancy agreement (e.g. minimum rental period of two years), these do not apply in the event of the death of a tenant and the flat can be terminated on the next possible cancellation date in accordance with the statutory notice period of three months. There is also the possibility of proposing new tenants to the landlord – this can shorten the notice period considerably.

It should be noted that all heirs must sign in order for the cancellation to be legally binding.

Carrying out a flat clearance yourself

To cope with grief, it can be helpful for some relatives to clear the deceased person’s home and household themselves. This allows you to go through all the items again at your leisure and decide what to keep or dispose of. Would you like to clear the flat yourself? It’s best to draw up a checklist in advance so that you can clear out the flat or house quickly and in a coordinated manner:


Arrange a professional house clearance

Clearing a loved one’s home not only involves a lot of work, but can also be an emotional challenge for the bereaved. In this case, you can hire a professional company such as a removal company to clear out the home. Be sure to obtain and compare different offers here – it’s worth agreeing a flat rate for the clearance. As a rule, the price depends on the size of the flat, the accessibility/surroundings of the property (e.g. lift available) and the type of items to be disposed of (e.g. additional costs incurred for professional disposal).

It may be worth going through the household contents yourself before the professional house clearance and sorting out what you want to keep and what not. This means you can ensure that nothing is disposed of unintentionally, but it can also affect the price of the house clearance. In any case, you should carry out an on-site inspection with the service provider beforehand so that you can discuss together what can be disposed of and taken away or what is for sale.

If the emotional burden is too great, you can also have a professional house clearance carried out without having to go through the flat again yourself. In this case, the company will clear out the entire household and dispose of all of the items. However, there are also companies that identify valuable items during a house clearance and also organise their sale.

Store items

You can’t part with certain things yet, but don’t have room for them in your home? Then you can also store them temporarily in a self-storage box. This will give you more time to think about the remaining belongings. At Zebrabox, you can easily and flexibly obtain a storage unit for temporary storage. With our volume estimator, you can easily find out approximately how much storage space you need. Have you since made space at home and no longer need the storage unit? Then you can cancel it quickly and easily. If you ever need a storage unit again in the future, we will be sure to find a free space for you with our locations throughout Switzerland.