Taking care of an unoccupied property if you live abroad

Owning and managing an unoccupied property, whether it be residential or commercial, can take up plenty of your time and resources. Some owners can manage their unoccupied property in between their everyday life. However, for some owners, managing an unoccupied property is a little more complicated, especially if you live abroad.

If like thousands of Brits you have chosen to live abroad for your career or lifestyle, then managing your unoccupied property back in the United Kingdom can be difficult to juggle. With the COVID-19 pandemic severely restricting international travel, maintaining an empty property whilst residing in another country, is now more difficult than ever.

So, what can property owners do to take care of their unoccupied property while living abroad?

  • Firstly, invest in specialist unoccupied property insurance. Most standard home insurance providers will only offer 30 or 60 days of protection for an unoccupied property. Some insurance providers may not even offer such cover at all. Specialist unoccupied property insurance from Guardcover, can offer flexible policy terms of 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.
  • Make sure your property is well secured and that all entry points such as windows, doors and skylights, are fitted with British standard locks. Security shutters, window bars, security screens for doors and windows, and security fencing can also be installed. Such measures can help deter theft and damage to your unoccupied property, especially if the property is going to sit vacant for a long period of time.
  • For extra security measures, flood lights and security lights installed by entry points like doors and driveways, and in blind spots such as the side of the property, will illuminate dark spots that would usually provide criminals with the perfect cover. CCTV and security systems can be used remotely on most smart devices, enabling property owners who live abroad, the opportunity to check-up on their property as and when.
  • Some property owners may prefer to manage their unoccupied property themselves, however when living abroad, this becomes much more restricted. Specialist agencies can be hired to manage and maintain your unoccupied property. This could include regular visits to insure the property is secure, maintaining the garden, collecting your mail, checking for signs of damp, or leaks inside the property, and more.
  • If hiring a specialist agency is not an option, ask friends, family members or even neighbours to keep an eye on your property for you. This could help prevent any unwanted problems such as break-ins and vandalism. Some insurers put in place stringent terms (“Unoccupied Building Conditions”) which must be enforced before they will provide cover, such as weekly documented visits. Not all providers enforce this.
  • If your property is going to sit vacant for a long period of time (months or even years), then turning off the mains water or even the electric and gas could not only save money in the long run, but could reduce the risk of water damage, and electrical fires.
  • By keeping the property as well maintained as possible, could help reduce the risk of a break-in, theft or criminal damage. Keeping the garden tidy, removing any rubbish and a build-up of post, using lights set on timers inside the property, can make your property looked lived in, which is a big deterrent for criminals.

By organising the important details such as insurance and the management of your unoccupied property, before you move abroad, could save you plenty of stress and cost. Although the COVID-19 outbreak means most travel is restricted and lockdowns are not uncommon, it is still important that your unoccupied property is secure and protected.