There are many reasons why your property may become unoccupied such as a family member moving out or a rental tenancy coming to an end. Millions of pounds worth of damage has been caused to empty properties throughout the UK due to anti-social behaviours like vandalism and arson. If you find yourself with an empty house to look after, read our tips for how best to maintain an unoccupied property.
TIP #1: Do a Deep Clean
When a house is left empty for a few months, you will want to ensure that it remains in a good condition. There is nothing worse than moving into a property to find that the whole place needs deep-cleaning before anything can be unpacked.
It is important to ensure that the property is left free of mould and mildew and thoroughly cleaned so that it doesn’t attract mice and rodents. Don’t forget to dust underneath any remaining furniture and clean the skirting boards in every room. You should also consider having any fitted carpets professionally cleaned.
TIP #2: Don’t Forget the Garden!
Leaving overgrown weeds makes your property appear as an advert for vandals and thieves. The most important way to keep your unoccupied property safe is by making it look occupied. By removing any weeds and overgrown shrubbery from your garden, the fact that your property is unoccupied becomes less obvious to those looking to take advantage.
TIP #3: Consider the Weather
If your property is going to be unoccupied over the winter, you will want to ensure that damp and rot don’t set in. DO NOT turn the heating off for long periods of time. Leaving it on at a constant low temperature throughout the winter can help avoid problems like this occurring. It might also help you to meet any requirements found in your unoccupied property insurance policy.
Another cause for concern during bad weather is burst pipes. You can avoid major damage to your unoccupied property by draining the water supply.
TIP #4: Locks, Alarms & Security
The security of property is particularly important when the residence is unoccupied. Check and make sure all doors and windows are locked, a decent alarm system is fitted, and lights are set on timers to come on during the evening. Couple this with collecting the post and you’ll be going some way towards protecting your property while it’s vacant.
Check every window and door for signs of damage. If the property is going to be vacant for a long period of time then boarding up the windows is an effective way of protecting it. This will help prevent further issues, such as squatters or theft. You should also check that any outbuildings are also secure.
TIP #5: Love Thy Neighbour
If your unoccupied property is situated in a residential area, the most effective way of protecting it is to enlist the help of your neighbours. Ask them to keep an eye out for anything unusual and to report anything to you. This way you will be aware of any problems that you need to deal with straight away.
TIP #6: Get The Right Insurance
Empty houses present more of a risk to insurers than occupied houses. If your house is going to be unoccupied for more than 60 days, please tell your insurance provider and check whether the existing insurance will cover a period of unoccupancy.
There are a few types of unoccupied property insurance available ranging from insuring the property before a tenant moves in, to insuring it as a property that you are going to renovate and then sell on. Whatever your plans are, it is important that the insurance you have covers your unoccupied property in the event of any of the above issues occurring.