Moving House Etiquette

Martha Lott
Written by Martha Lott
17th September 2018 (Last updated on Tuesday 5th November 2019)

It’s easy to forget that there's a common moving house etiquette that should be followed when moving out of a property. Many people will be unclear of exactly what that is, but it’s still important to research and abide by it. You should leave your house the same way as you'd expect your new house to be left. 

There are certain things you should leave behind, items you should clean and a few nice touches you could consider when you’re leaving your house. We’ve put together a guide on moving house etiquette that you should stick to when welcoming the new owners of your house, along with answers to some commonly asked questions to help you get organised.

This article will cover the following points

House Viewing Etiquette for Buyers Seller Etiquette 5 Moving House Etiquette Tips When Should I Tell My Neighbours I’m Moving? Who Can You Ask for Help When Moving? How to Help Your Removals Team Frequently Asked Questions Save Time on Your Home Removal

House Viewing Etiquette for Buyers

When property hunting, it’s important to remember that it’s not your house...yet. As well as having a useful house viewing checklist on hand, it’s important to be polite and consider the common house viewing etiquette. To help you get organised, we’ve created a basic list of Dos and Don’ts for your house hunting experience. 

Do:

  • Be polite
  • Arrive on time
  • Ask questions
  • Offer to remove your shoes

Don’t:

  • Take any food or drink inside 
  • Bring children or pets, if possible
  • Negotiate on the price whilst there
  • Open any drawers without asking
  • Take photos without permission

Seller Etiquette

When selling a house, you have a responsibility to ensure it’s left in the same condition it was when it was being viewed. The etiquette for selling a house differs between each person, but something you should always ask yourself is: what would you expect if you were buying the property?

You should always make time to clean a property before moving and, for many, the contract will even state that the home should be left at least “broom clean”. This means that the least you should do is give each room a quick dusting and hoover. If you were moving in, you wouldn’t expect a messy or dirt-ridden home so why should you leave one? Give yourself enough time to do a thorough deep clean or even hire a professional if you really don’t have the time.  

A few quick things to do before leaving includes:

  • Hoovering every room
  • Wiping down drawers and visible surfaces
  • Emptying the refrigerator 
  • Cleaning the garage and other external properties 
  • Removing any rubbish 
  • Leaving any fixtures and fittings stated in the contract

5 Moving House Etiquette Tips

We've put together the best tips to familiarise yourself with the moving house etiquette.

1. Clean Up After Yourself

You should probably think about doing a little extra cleaning before you move out. If you have carpets, then a deep clean is advised. Furniture like sofas and armchairs will need a thorough hoover and deep clean to properly remove any hair left behind. If you have a pet, you’ll be aware that they often make your house dirtier and so keep their mess in mind also.

2. Leave Nice Touches

As a nice gesture, you should leave some thoughtful touches around the house to welcome the new occupants. Often, sellers will leave a bottle of wine or milk and bread as welcome gifts to the new owners, or at the very least make sure they have the moving house essentials like toilet roll and soap.

If there are any specific things they should know about the house, neighbourhood or area, make sure to leave a note informing them. You may have a dodgy handle on the bathroom door, or something similar, that should be worth letting them know about too. 

3. Inform the Neighbours

Informing your neighbours that you’ll be moving house and expecting new owners is a nice way of making them aware of the situation. It’s not essential to let them know as they’re sure to see the ‘for sale’ sign out the front of your house.

It’s considered polite to let them know that they'll be having new neighbours and anything specific such as if they’re a couple, a family with young children or if they have any pets.

4. Leave Fixtures and Fittings

You should leave most fixtures and fittings when moving to a new house. Keep in mind that you wouldn’t expect to turn up at your new house with light fittings, plugs and kitchen counters and cupboards missing. This will be sorted out by your conveyancer and will be included in your conveyancing quotes.

If you took a substantial amount of the fixtures and fittings that were there when the buyer viewed the house, then they would be getting a lot less value than what they paid for.

Generally speaking, if it’s going to cause hassle removing it from the wall with tools, it’s advised to leave it. For example: 

Fixtures

  • Light fittings and switches
  • Boiler
  • Radiators
  • Plugs
  • Bathroom suites
  • Kitchen counters and cupboards
  • Wardrobes

Fittings

  • Carpets
  • Curtain rails and curtain poles
  • Lampshades
  • TV aerials and satellite dishes
  • Bed and sofas

5. Create an Inventory 

If you plan on taking items that were there when the buyer viewed the house, such as your plants from your garden or doorknobs, you’ll have to ensure this is clear to the buyer before you sign the fixtures and fittings inventory.

The buyer could take legal action if you take something with you after stating that it’ll be there on the inventory. Also, it’s morally expected that you leave most of the fixtures and fittings when you’re moving house.

When Should I Tell My Neighbours I’m Moving?

Another important part of moving house etiquette is notifying your neighbours that you’re moving. As the majority of your friends and family will already be aware of the move, some of your neighbours may already know. This step all depends on how well you know them. 

If you have a good relationship with your neighbours, let them know as soon as possible as they may want to help with the move or just wish you well. An extra pair of hands always helps. If you don’t have a particularly good relationship with your neighbours, consider telling them two weeks in advance just to be thoughtful. This is simply a polite gesture to notify them of your upcoming absence. 

Who Can You Ask for Help When Moving?

Never be afraid to ask for help when moving house. It’s not impolite or against moving house etiquette - if it aids you and your family then get as much help as possible. You may dread having to ask family and friends, but as long as you’re respectable and don’t immediately expect them to help out, then there shouldn’t be an issue. 

Make sure you’re organised and capable of giving them a time-frame. Be grateful to them for even offering and if you do end up getting an extra pair of hands, perhaps thank them by ordering food, buying champagne or simply giving them a ‘Thank You’ card.  

There’s also the option of calling in the professionals and booking a removals company. Make sure you book in advance so that you can get the date and time slot that suits you best. Don’t forget to compare removal quotes with Compare My Move to ensure you get the best deal for your budget.

How to Help Your Removals Team

Moving etiquette also includes professionals. Don’t forget to show your gratitude and thank them for the extra help. Offer them what you’d offer friends and family; get out the tea and biscuits, offer water or whatever you have to hand. You don’t have to provide a full-on buffet, but it’s the little things that go a long way. 

You can also help your movers help you by labelling the boxes and assigning them to specific rooms. Communicate thoroughly and make sure they’re aware of where the fragile items are packed. Clear any obstacles from their path to make the process easier and, if possible, make sure they have somewhere close to park their van outside. 

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right. There might be a few things you forget and that’s okay, moving house is a very chaotic process. But when possible, show gratitude in little ways, make things as easy as possible for everyone involved - it’ll make for a much smoother process. 

Frequently Asked Questions

We've answered some of the burning questions you have when it comes to what's acceptable to do when moving house. From wheelie bin etiquette to how much you should clean, we have the answers to your frequently asked questions. 

Should I Clean Before Moving House?

You should give your house a thorough clean before the new occupants move in. You wouldn’t want to arrive at your new house and have to clean everywhere before you can unpack, so why would they expect any different?

You don’t have to hire a professional cleaner, but you should make some sort of effort to make your house look acceptable. Hoover carpets, clean floors, scrub surfaces, ovens and showers, wherever there’s a build-up of dirt and grime. 

What Stays and What Goes?

It's an unwritten rule that you should leave items like the toilet roll holder, towel rack, doorbell, light fittings and plug sockets, carpets and curtain poles in their place. You can take your curtains if they are going to fit in your new place. If they’re not going to fit, it’s best to ask the new occupants if they would like you to leave them as they may have their own curtains that they expect to fit. However, there most certainly should not be any exposed wires left out.

If you have mirrors or pictures on the wall that have been screwed or nailed in, it's deemed acceptable to take them. Generally, mirrors in the bathroom have been put there as part of the bathroom suite and tend to stay. 

Can I Leave Rubbish When Moving House?

It’s important to be considerate of the new homeowners when moving out. If you have any rubbish lying around, take the time to remove it. Whether it means taking a couple of trips to the dump, hiring a skip to get rid of unwanted furniture and boxes or simply asking a neighbour to keep a bagful until bin-day arrives; it’s always better to be kind. 

Don’t forget to read your contract thoroughly before moving as many will often specify that the house must be clean and cleared before the new owners move in. If this doesn’t occur, the buyers can request you to remove any remaining rubbish. Leaving a bag or two in the wheelie bin might be acceptable if it’s not long until the rubbish collection day. 

You have to think about how you would feel if you arrived at your new home to a load of rubbish and waste. After the chaotic journey, it’s bad enough you have to unpack, let alone try to wade through the rubbish that isn’t even yours. 

Can I Take My Wheelie Bin When Moving House?

You shouldn't take your wheelie bin with you when you move house. You will have them at the new place and the odds are, the people moving into your house won’t be bringing theirs either. The general rule is that it's acceptable to leave some rubbish in the wheelie bin.

By doing this, you'll allow the new occupants to add to it as there should be enough space left in the bin to last until the next bin-day. Any excess rubbish should be taken to the tip or go in a skip if you have one.

Do You Take Curtains When You Move?

It’s polite to first discuss this topic with the new buyers. Unless it states so in the contract, you’re not necessarily obliged to leave your curtains when moving house. If the curtains are something you’d want to take with you, make this known as soon as possible as no one wants to live in a house with bare windows. It takes time to find the right-sized curtains and to fit them. The owners will want to know as soon as possible to help them get organised. 

But you will most likely be required to leave the curtain pole where it sits. If you’ve already stated in the signed contract (specifically the fixtures and fittings form) that certain curtains must remain the property, then you’re legally bound to that promise. 

What Do I Have to Leave When I Sell My House?

In short, whatever has been previously specified in the contract must remain in the house. If you have not exchanged contracts yet, then you should know that there’s no law depicting what should or should not be left in the house. Think about what you would like to be left when you move and consider if that is a viable option for you.

Ideally, any fixtures and fittings that are permanently fixed to the structure of the building should remain in the house. This includes lighting, plugs, radiators and central heating, built-in wardrobes and more. If it’s nailed down, mounted or bolted then leave it. Also, there must not be any exposed wiring in the house before you move out. For example, you must leave or replace any light fittings when moving. 

Make sure both you and the buyer come to an agreement before anything is signed so that you don’t lose any items you desperately want. Create and set an inventory to adhere to before moving house. 

Do I Have to Fill Holes When Moving House?

Again, unless your contract specifies that this must be completed, it’s mainly up to you to decide. If there is a “make good of any damage” clause in your contract, then you may be legally expected to fill any holes. This is especially true for any large holes that have caused extensive damage. 

Can I Take Light Bulbs When Moving?

What would you like to be in the house when you move? If light bulbs are one of the things on your list, leave them. However, unless specifically stated in the contracts, you’re not legally expected to leave light bulbs when moving out. 

You must leave or replace any light fixtures when moving out as exposed wires are a very dangerous hazard. However, you can take the light bulbs from these if you wish to do so, but working light bulbs are a minor comfort that the new homeowners would very much appreciate.  

Do You Leave Shelves When Moving?

Generally, fittings (items fixed to the building’s structure) should be left behind when you move house. Read your contract thoroughly to know whether or not it’s legally expected of you to leave shelves in the house, but usually, they would be left behind. Browse through your fixtures and fittings form to know for sure. 

When going through your inventory, discuss with the buyer if they would like wall fittings such as shelves and mirrors included. To avoid losing out on any items you would like to keep, make sure you come to an agreement before the contracts are signed. 

Should You Leave Something for the New Owners of Your House?

The main items to consider leaving for the new homeowners are:

  • A clean house
  • Important details of the property like alarm codes, where the metres are, waste collection dates etc. 
  • A welcome note, perhaps stating local takeaway numbers or other local information

If you would like to leave a gift for the new homeowners, perhaps champagne or flowers, then you are more than welcome to do so. It would probably brighten up their very chaotic moving day. However, it’s not expected. Leave behind what you would like to see if you were moving in and be considerate of their needs. Moving house is a very stressful event, any form of kindness will be appreciated. 


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