How to safely make a property unoccupied

Properties maybe unoccupied for many different reasons. A landlord could have a gap in their tenancy, a property might be going through probate, or maybe the property is sitting vacant until a more permanent solution can be determined.

But no matter the reason why a property might become vacant, the process in it becoming empty is never as simple as just turning off the lights and locking the door. There are steps that property owners should take.

Is your unoccupied property insured?

If your property is going to sit vacant for a long period of time, consider taking out specialist unoccupied property insurance, which can offer a much more flexible and long-term solution. Note that some home insurance providers will not automatically include a second property, while other standard insurance providers will only cover an unoccupied property for up to 30 or 60 days.

Securing the property

The longer a property is left vacant, the higher the risk of a potential break-in or theft. Keep all security systems active while the property is unoccupied or consider installing CCTV or an alarm system. All entry points such as doors, windows, skylights and garage doors, should be securely locked using British standard locks. Missing or weakened entry points should be covered by window bars or security panels.

Keeping up appearances

Whether your property is sitting unoccupied for a few weeks, or for a few months, appearing as though someone is still living in the property can help deter break-ins and theft. Mowing the lawn and trimming hedges, clearing away rubbish and removing the post, can make it look as though somebody is around. Light timers can be easily set-up to keep the house lit-up during the night.

Utilities

Depending on how long your property is likely to stay vacant, turning off your utilities such as gas, electric and water could save you money and reduce the risk of issues occurring in the home due to leaks or water damage. Some policies require you to drain down the water systems and switch off the utilities in your empty or vacant home. However, at Guardcover, we let you choose whether to include these conditions on your policy.

Monitoring the property

By not managing or monitoring your unoccupied property, you will not be able to spot potential issues inside or outside the home. This could include water damage from a leaking pipe, pests such as rats or ivy invading the property, squatters moving in or break-ins occurring. If you cannot monitor your unoccupied property regularly, arrange for a neighbour, friends, family or specialist agency to keep an eye on it for you. For most residential properties, recently unoccupied, Guardcover will allow you to choose cover to exclude regular, documented property visits.

Avoid a vacant property altogether

Ideally, you want to avoid having your property sitting vacant for as long as possible. A short unoccupied stint may be unavoidable. However, if possible, rent out the property either privately or through your local council or housing association. This way, your property is providing much needed housing, while offering property owners with some income, and security for the property. Unoccupied properties that sit vacant for years on end, eventually become an eyesore to the community. In some cases, the council or local authorities can step in and take measures to have the property occupied again.

By taking precautions to safely vacate your property, you could help reduce costs and stress in the long-run. 

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