How to keep your empty property secure

Posted: 4th Jun 2014

Like it or not, there may be times when your property is going to sit unoccupied.

Sooner or later you may encounter a delay in finding new tenants or perhaps another circumstance might involve you needing to close your property to letting for a few weeks in order to undertake conversions, refurbishment or simply to do some redecoration.

It is not unknown for landlords to take an extended holiday and some may decide to close up their property while they do so.

In all these circumstances, your property may be at additional risk while it is unoccupied due to a couple of inescapable facts:

  • unoccupied properties are typically more tempting to people such as burglars, vandals and squatters;
  • day to day problems such as leaking pipes might go unnoticed and uncorrected.

So, what sort of things should you be thinking of doing if your property is going to sit unoccupied for a prolonged period of time?

The first thing is to consider getting an unoccupied property insurance quote due to the fact that your standard cover may become invalid if the period without occupation exceeds around thirty consecutive days (this varies with providers, so check your existing cover).

The next thing to do is to take steps to reduce the risks to your property, as your unoccupied cover policy may insist in some cases.

So, you may wish to consider:

  • visiting your property regularly for inspections to ensure that everything is ok (this may also be part of your obligations under your terms of insurance cover);
  • leaving a light or two on a timer switch;
  • making sure your water systems are drained down;
  • switching off gas at the mains;
  • periodically changing the appearance of your property from the outside (e.g. changing curtain positions);
  • avoiding the accumulation of rubbish etc outside (including unkempt garden areas);
  • making sure that mail doesn’t visibly build up;
  • arranging with neighbours to keep an eye on your property;
  • refusing to allow builders to hang advertising notices outside your property if they’re working inside it.

These sorts of steps may achieve two purposes.

Firstly, people such as burglars and vandals usually prefer properties that offer a reduced chance of them being disturbed – which is why they typically find unoccupied properties so attractive. They may look for signs of occupation before deciding whether or not to try and enter and anything that indicates change might discourage them.

Secondly, your periodic visits might enable you to spot and nip in the bud any potential problems – thereby reducing the likelihood of incidents and subsequent claims.

Making a little effort might just help you to reduce the chances of something going wrong with your property and that in turn might mean that you’ll be able to get it let out again that little bit faster.