Looking after an unoccupied property can be a time-consuming and challenging affair. The simple fact that no-one is present to take care of a property can lead to a lack of peace of mind – exacerbated by the fact that properties are often worth a great deal of money, and any damage caused by vandals, burglars or acts of god could be costly to address. But taking certain steps can increase the security of an unoccupied property.
• Taking out a specialised unoccupied property insurance policy is highly recommended, since it provides a financial safeguard against any damage sustained to the property.
• Be aware that your current basic property insurance may well not be valid if you leave your property empty for extended periods, usually more than 30 days. A special vacant property policy is nearly always required.
• Keep your property secure. Consider deadbolts for doors, and think about fitting a monitored security system and a motion sensor connected to a light. Avoid boarding up windows as this can attract attention from burglars and vandals.
• Carry out regular checks on the property to identify any problems. Check for forced entry, and inspect all windows and doors on the ground level – and any accessible upper windows/doors. Visiting your property once every one-to-two weeks is recommended, and may be a requirement of your insurer.
• Ensure the garden does not get over-gown, as this is a sure sign of a vacant property. Address any graffiti for the same reason. If snowfall covers the property’s driveway, take the time to clear it, so that the property appears to be looked after. Collect post regularly.
• If possible, ask neighbours of nearby friends to keep an eye on the property.
• With the approach of cold weather, consider draining the water tank to prevent a burst pipe.
• Maintain a low level of heating during winter months to prevent the freezing of pipes.
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