There are a number of reasons why property is empty for more than a month. It could be that you are awaiting tenants or you have simply bought an empty house and are looking to add it to your rental property portfolio. Whatever the reason for longer periods of unoccupancy you will need to make sure you have suitable insurance that is designed to cater for vacant premises. Such policies are likely to include safety and security requirements – make sure you know what your policy says.
We have put together a guide to some of the more common requirements designed to reduce the risk of damage.
An empty property is like a Belisha Beacon to would be thieves and vandals so don't advertise that your property is unoccupied.
- Make sure all doors and windows are locked with British Standard locks and bolts.
- Where possible hang curtains, net curtains or blinds at windows to give the appearance of habitation.
- Ensure all deliveries and post are redirected or have an external post box fitted.
- Seal the letterbox if appropriate. This will stop things being pushed through that could damage the property, like fireworks.
- Keep the garden, hedges or fences in good order and ensure all rubbish is removed. By being on the premises in order to tend to the garden you can also help give the appearance that someone lives there.
- Be careful who you tell that your property is empty; you may like to not advertise the fact on social media for instance.
- Inspect your property on a regular basis, some insurance policies may require this to be done and a record of each visit kept. By doing this it will help to ensure that any issues can be dealt with promptly before they can become a major incident. You could also ask a trusted friend, neighbour or family member to visit in between times.
- Consider turning off mains supplies and drain the water. Again some insurance policies may require you to do this. A water leak can cause serious damage to a property if left unattended. A gas leak can cause an explosion and a faulty electrical supply can cause a fire.
- Consider fitting a burglar alarm or security lighting. If you have these speak to your insurer as you may need to keep the electricity supply on in order to maintain this system.
- If you are having any renovation work done then you may like to ask the builders not to hang advertising signs outside. Avoid having a skip outside for too long - not only will a skip attract would be thieves but it can draw attention to the property itself.
- If you can ask a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on your property and if possible you could ask them to park on the driveway.
- If there is a telephone landline think about having the number re-routed to your own number or mobile as some thieves may try to ascertain whether the property is uninhabited via the telephone. A disconnected line can be perceived as a good indicator of an empty property.
Sometimes owning an unoccupied property is unavoidable but a little thought and effort can help to make the experience a little less stressful. Don't forget to check with your local council about council tax rates for empty properties, it won't add to peace of mind but it may help you save some money and allow you to boost your spending on security measures.
Do not forget to protect your property with appropiate insurance!
Empty property usually requires specialist unoccupied buildings insurance. If you need a quote do not hesitate to contact Click4quote to get the cover you need.
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