With recent figures suggesting that there are over 200,000 homes across England sitting empty, many of them long term, there are clearly large numbers of people in ownership of a home that is not being lived in. These properties can often prove themselves to be costly and time consuming for the people responsible for them. We have therefore pulled together our 5 top tips to ensure that your unoccupied property doesn’t leave you with a headache or an unexpected bill.
Upgrade your security
Empty properties are well known to be easy targets for thieves and vandals so it is advisable to take steps to protect against this. By making sure that you invest is suitably strong locks for all doors and windows, you will be going some way towards preventing unauthorised access to the property. If the property is in a particularly high-risk area then it may be worthwhile investing in further security equipment such as a burglar alarm or CCTV system. Lots of these can even be linked directly to monitored systems so that the police can be instantly alerted if someone enters your property when they are not meant to.
Maintain the exterior
In order to prevent your property being a target for crime it is also well worth investing a bit of time in keeping it looking well cared for. Simple jobs such as mowing the lawn and trimming back any overgrown trees and shrubs can significantly reduce the risk of being burgled or vandalised. It is also sensible to make sure the post is collected on a regular basis, as a pile of letters in the doorway is a tell tale sign that nobody is living there. If you are not able to make it to the property frequently it is worth asking a trusted neighbour to complete this task for you.
Remove all but the essentials
When considering security at your empty property it is usually advisable to make sure that any high value items or those with strong sentimental value are removed and kept in an alternative secure location. This could be in your current residence, with a trusted neighbour or with a professional storage company. Doing this will give you peace of mind that these items are safe from potential theft, as well as reducing the threat to the property since there is nothing worth breaking in for.
Decide your future intentions
It is important when you are responsible for an empty property that you have an idea of the long-term plans for the house. For example, you may be planning a large scale renovation and will move in or sell the property upon completion. Sometimes when a property has been inherited as a result of the death of a loved one you will not be sure what the long term plans will be – but it is likely that the property will remain empty for some time which means you can make adequate provisions for its upkeep during this time.
Check your insurance cover
One of the big problems with an unoccupied property is that it can be almost impossible to find an insurer who will be able to cover it, particularly if the plan is for it to be vacant for a substantial period of time. The first port of call should be to alert the current property insurer of the situation, as they may be able to amend the policy to make it suitable for an unoccupied property. However, if they advise that they will be unable to continue cover due to the vacancy, it may be necessary to locate a specialist unoccupied insurance policy, to ensure that the house will be sufficiently protected.
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