Like all property, an unoccupied house can be a source of legal action if a visitor is injured. Just because the building is empty does not mean that the postman and other visitors will not walk up the path. Every winter there are stories of injuries on icy and dangerous paths- what should the owners of unoccupied buildings do to protect themselves?

The government has published a Snow Code to help householders cope with heavy snowfall and it contains advice on how to clear your paths safely. People have been worried that if they clear up the snow and end up making a path more slippery you will be liable to anyone injured. The code aims to encourage people to take a commonsense approach and reassures people that they are unlikely to be sued if they are doing their best.

Owners of unoccupied property may live miles away and find it difficult to look after it with the care of an owner-occupier. It does make sense to have someone keeping an eye on it to report any problems; especially if visitors such as potential tenants or purchasers are expected. Your unoccupied property insurance policy will probably contain conditions about how the empty property should be looked after- make sure you know what you have to do to keep the policy valid.

The Snow Code is at www.direct.gov.uk