American residents of Annapolis USA, Doug Hayden and Susan Vieson, received a surprisingly high water bill recently, demanding $585 (around £377). The high figure was all the more noteworthy because the couple had not been in the property for the months the bill covered – since it was being renovated following a fire. In total, 35,000 gallons of water had allegedly been used at their home.

The couple said they had not noticed a leak, and the city officials said the water meter appeared to working properly.

More light was shed on the mystery when a contractor who was hired to work on the building was questioned. He said he did not use the water, but the possibility of a subcontractor having used the water was raised.

However, there are very few reasons why a subcontractor, or other individual, would use 35,000 gallons of water.

The mystery continues. Meanwhile, the couple have made a claim with their insurance provider.

This news item is a reminder of the risks that accompany leaving a property empty for an extended period. But sometimes homeowners or landlords are compelled to leave their property empty. Perhaps they have moved into a new property and are awaiting the sale of their old place. Or maybe they are landlords in the process of seeking a new tenant. Or, like the residents above, because their home was being renovated.

Whatever the reason for doing so, it can be a stressful period, but having adequate unoccupied property insurance for vacant homes can offer real peace of mind.