Argo Real Estate LLC

Ask Real Estate: Cleaning Out a Co-op

Cleaning Out a Co-op

How does one go about cleaning out a co-op apartment in a large building after the owner dies in advance of selling the estate, especially when the apartment is full of a lifetime of possessions? In a house, you could just get a large Dumpster and discard contents that way. But is that possible in the city?

Forest Hills, Queens

Cleaning out an apartment after an owner’s death is not the same as simply moving from one apartment to another. In your case, items need to be sorted. Valuables can be sold and other possessions discarded; sensitive documents should be stored or shredded; and sentimental pieces set aside. Someone must coordinate these tasks with building management and heirs to the estate. “It’s a labor-intensive job,” said Kristin P. Bergfeld, the owner of Bergfeld’s Estate Clearance Service.

Consider hiring a clearance company to coordinate schedules with building management and arrange for items to be sold, donated, stored or recycled. Reach out to the managing agent for a list of preferred vendors. You will need to arrange a date and time with the managing agent to remove items from the building. Management may grant permission to rent a Dumpster and park it near the building. If so, you will need to hire a garbage removal service to get a Dumpster; a permit from the city is usually required. “There are even companies that have mini-containers that can be wheeled into buildings,” said Cynthia Graffeo, the director of client relations at Argo Real Estate. You could also ask about the building’s policy for placing bulky items on the street for trash collection.