How Clean Is A Seller Required To Leave A House On Moving Day?

One question that we often encounter on or just after completion is ‘how clean is a seller required to leave a house on moving day?’

Picture the scene….You have spotted your dream home, great location, close to good schools, lovely garden, recently decorated and even the choice of carpet is exactly to your taste. You’ve viewed the property a number of times, met the owners who seem like lovely people, chatted to the neighbours and pictured where your furniture will go.

This is it, ‘the one!’


Fast forward a few weeks and you have agreed a sale on your own property, gone through the whole process of mortgages, surveys, searches, revisits, renegotiation’s, packing, removals and finally the day has come! You stroll into the estate agents office with a big smile on your face and gleefully collect the keys to your new home! Pulling onto the drive you notice the front lawn hasn’t been cut for a while, but the weather hasn’t been great recently so you can understand why it may have got a bit long…


You put the keys in the lock and open the front door….


And find your shiny new home isn’t as clean as you’d hoped.


You may have heard horror stories from friends or acquaintances about buyer’s moving into a new home only to discover that it has been left in an unbearably filthy state. Online stories have been emerging recently with tales of fridges full of rotten food, sinks full of dirty dishes, dirty carpets and filthy walls, one story even reports a dog being left tied up outside! A quick google search for ‘how clean is a seller required to leave the house after moving day’ brings up plenty of these tales of cleanliness chaos.


However an article from the Mail Online suggests that irresponsible sellers may soon find themselves in a spot of bother over their unclean habits.


The article highlights a new trend for property lawyers and conveyancers to introduce a so called ‘clean and tidy clause’ into contracts to ensure properties are handed over to the new owners in a fit state.


Currently the general rule on how clean a house should be is ‘buyer beware’ in that as a purchaser, you are encouraged to visit the property as close to exchange of contracts and prior to completion as possible to satisfy yourself that everything is in the condition agreed upon when discussing the purchase. If it isn’t, then this is the time to raise any issue with the seller and/or your solicitor for them to put right before the property legally becomes yours.


As far as removing items, it is the responsibility of the seller to remove all furniture, belongings, rubbish etc before leaving the property, unless instructed otherwise. Your solicitor will have received a fixtures and fittings list from the seller documenting what, if anything, will be left at the property when they move out.


If you discover lofts full of rubbish and sheds full of junk on completion day, you should raise this with your solicitor as soon as possible in the hopes of gaining some compensation for the cost of removal. Be aware however, that it is the purchasers responsibility to make sure the property is insured from exchange of contracts, so if any damage were to occur between exchange and completion, it is the sellers responsibility to inform the buyer and the buyers responsibility to make a claim on their insurance.


Cleanliness of the property is a still a grey area and, after all, one person’s definition of clean can vary significantly from another’s! With no clear legal definition as to how clean a property should be when the keys are handed over it seems solicitors are becoming more open to inserting these so called ‘clean and tidy clauses’ into contracts with the threat of a certain sum of money being held over until after completion to ensure the sellers possessions have been removed and the property is in an acceptable state.


Whilst at the current time the ‘clean and tidy’ clause is rare, only time will tell if it will catch on or not. The best advice is to maintain open communication with the seller, solicitors and your estate agent at all stages of the process to establish what is expected and what is fair, this way everyone can be happy on moving day and no one risks upset or a solicitor’s letter landing on their door step!


If you need any help or advise about the moving process, just get in touch with your local Hannells property experts, you can find a list of our branches here.



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