Moving house: what to take and what to leave behind

What stays and what leaves when you move house is a debate that has no definitive answer. While that might seem frustrating and difficult on some levels, on another, it gives you the freedom to set the boundaries, and to use the opportunity to declutter.

The law

There's actually nothing legally requiring an owner to leave specific fixtures or fittings, however it's the seller's right and responsibility to plan inventory. The TA10 form, a sample of which is available from The Law Society, enables you to list what you're leaving and, if you choose, what price you're charging for those items.

Without this paperwork, you could face action from disgruntled buyers who expected certain things to be left behind, particularly if they saw them in promotional pictures at your online estate agents. Their argument will generally hinge on whether the object in question is a 'fixture' that’s attached to the property, or a 'fitting' ('chattel')—a personal effect that is removable. Making this distinction clear is therefore important.

Think practically

Planning in advance also gives you a chance to reconsider what you really need. You can approach the question in a number of ways, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Bulk. Consider whether large items of furniture are worth the trouble to move with you, particularly if they have resale value.
  • Age. Old clothes you don't need and CDs or DVDs you can digitise can be decanted to charity to save time and space.
  • Expiry. Sort those kitchen and bathroom cupboards thoroughly to clear out those old products that are past their best.
  • Safety. Old cleaning fluids, batteries and similar items must be stored and disposed of correctly.
  • Comfort. Is your old mattress really worth hauling to the new home, or will your back thank you for reconsidering? After all that moving, you’ll need a good night’s sleep.

Take your chances

We don't mean grab every opportunity to take bits with you. We mean use this chance to organise your move in the most positive and productive way possible. Here's how:

  1. Sell off or give away any usable but unwanted items.
  2. Pack essentials in useful groups according to room.
  3. Make a list of fittings you're leaving, but will need to replace in your new home.
  4. Recalculate your moving/contents insurance if you declutter significantly.
  5. Feel good by leaving a gift and helpful tips to the next buyer.

As well as meaning a fresh start, moving to a new home provides the perfect opportunity for a fresh outlook. Decluttering and freeing up time, space and money for the future is entirely possible with a little planning.