Brits are a nation of 'mouldy movers'

Article date: 12 July 2007

  • Queens of clean Kim and Aggie shocked by UK home movers' dirty habits

Half (56%) of Brits moving into new properties are greeted with grimy rooms, sloppy standards and domestic sabotage courtesy of the previous owners. New research out today shows the problems range from un-flushed lavatories and abandoned bags of rubbish to floors, walls and cupboards left in a filthy state.

The study by Norwich Union* reveals that today's homeowners leave house pride at the door when they move home, with the top offences committed by departing homeowners including:

  • Over a half leaving a dirty and grimy property and cupboards (62%)
  • Nearly a quarter damaging or removing electrical fittings (23%)
  • One in five leaving old clothes and unwanted furniture (21%)
  • One in 10 leaving a dirty bathroom and un-flushed toilets (10%).

Doyennes of cleaning Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie believe there's no excuse when it comes to leaving the home clean and tidy for the following owners. 

Kim says: "The research reveals that one in 10 (10%) home owners admit to not cleaning their houses simply because they don't have the time to clean. However this shouldn't be an excuse for leaving your old abode in a state. It's important to think about how you would want to be treated as a new homeowner and the last thing you'd want to find is a blocked toilet or dirty floors. A little elbow-grease will not only leave your old home looking spotless and new occupants smiling, but will also mean you start life in your new home with a pristine and refreshed outlook."

Former professional cleaner Aggie adds: "When moving house your new property automatically becomes the focus of your attention, while the upkeep of your old home drops to the bottom of your list of your priorities."

The South West of England is reportedly home to the least considerate house sellers, with nearly half (42%) of people finding properties left dirty. Meanwhile over a third (37%) of homeowners in Yorkshire report moving into their new home to find that the electrical fittings and fixtures have been removed. 

Ironically 72% of people in the UK claim to have left their homes looking spotless for the new owners, indicating perhaps that one person's definition of "clean" is quite different from another's. Meanwhile 15% admit to feeling guilty about leaving their homes in a less than perfect state.

The survey of nearly 1,500 homeowners reports other unwanted surprises left by previous occupants, including blocked toilets, a shed housing a collection of empty whisky bottles and funereal photos hidden beneath floorboards. What's more the study also reveals that people are more prone to leave nasty things behind (56%) than nice surprises (38%). 

But it's not all doom and gloom. More than one in 10 (17%) of home sellers have left a contact number for new occupants to call if they run into a problem and some homeowners even report becoming lifelong friends with previous owners of their home.

Some of the more pleasant surprises left by previous owners include flowers (14%), a welcome pack with useful local numbers and trades people (12%) and a bottle of wine (11%).

Regardless of the state we leave our old homes in though, plenty of us remain very nostalgic about our former abode. Two thirds (65%) of respondents admit to snooping on the new occupants of their old home to see what changes they have made to the property.

Kim and Aggie have teamed up with Norwich Union to provide some top tips to help make the home-moving  process as easy as possible for both parties involved:

  • Plan ahead. Make sure you clean the property and throw away any unwanted items, or why not do a good deed and recycle or give away your unwanted wares to a charity shop
  • Share your knowledge. Fill the new owners in on your area - which trades people are reliable, refuse collection times, the best shops and restaurants to visit and where the local doctors and dentists are
  • You may also want to leave your contact details and forwarding address just in case the owners have any niggling questions about your old home
  • Why not leave a housewarming gift like a bottle of wine or flowers - it will be greatly appreciated after a long day of moving furniture.

For extra peace of mind Norwich Union insures your belongings for loss or damage while being moved by professional movers** and will also insure your existing house and your new home for no extra charge for a period of up to five days while you move.


Press office contacts:
Sophie Lam, Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6482

Emilie Lien, Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6421

Rebecca Holmes, Norwich Union Press Office
Telephone: 01603 354 346/07800 690 731

Notes to editors:

Other Key Findings

Top five Mouldy Moving habits

  1. Dirty and unclean house (44%)
  2. Dirty cupboards (33%)
  3. Missing electrical fittings (23%)
  4. Unwanted items and clothing (21%)
  5. Bags of rubbish (17%)

Top five pleasant surprises

  1. Left a phone number (17%)
  2. Flowers or card (14%)
  3. Welcome pack (12%)
  4. Left a bottle of wine (10%)
  5. Left details of a friendly neighbour (5%)

% Mouldy Movers by region

  1. South West  (42%)
  2. Wales (38%)
  3. North West (37%)
  4. Yorkshire (35%)
    East (35%)

% New homeowners who have found electrical fittings missing by region

  1. Yorkshire (37%)
    North East (31%)
  2. South West (29%)
  3. Midlands (26%)
  4. London (25%)  

*The research was carried out between 11/05/2007 - 18/05/2007 amongst a nationally representative sample of 1,432 UK adults aged 16+ is a leading market research organization, carrying out consumer and niche market surveys amongst 50,000+ member panel.

** Customers must have both the old and new property insured with Norwich Union Direct. Terms and conditions apply.

About Norwich Union
Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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