How to maintain your empty property

Posted: 4th Jun 2014

Here are a few areas that you may wish to consider carefully if you believe that your property is likely to sit empty (or just unoccupied) for an extended period of time.

Insurance considerations

A typical landlord insurance policy will cover unoccupied property up to a maximum of somewhere between 30 and 45 days.

After that period of time, your cover may well lapse and in order to maintain continuity of protection for your property, you may need to seek a special unoccupied property insurance quote.

Security issues

Burglars, vandals and squatters typically love unoccupied property.

Therefore, it is only common sense to take all reasonable steps to ensure that your property is not obviously advertising itself as being unoccupied.

All those traditional old things remain true, including:

  • don’t let accumulating post build up to become visible from outside;
  • pay attention to gardens that move from being well-kept to looking untidy and unloved;
  • open curtains and no lights on at night is something that might be an invitation to burglars – so avoid it through the use of timer switches etc. ;
  • try to avoid talking widely about the fact that your property is sitting unoccupied.

Maintenance

In the spring, summer and autumn, it might be advisable to switch off water at the mains. You might want to do the same for most of your electrical circuitry other than perhaps your lighting circuit if you have some timer lights on it for security reasons.

In winter, it might be advisable to try and leave central heating on a low and once-per-day level, just to avoid the build-up of damp in unoccupied property. That might mean you may need to leave the water on and you will have to make a judgement call about where your priorities are.

Make sure that you visit your property as often as is possible. Look around for obvious signs of deterioration or problems and fix them before they become serious.

Odours can become a serious issue in unoccupied property and might make it more difficult for you to let it again in due course.

It might be sensible therefore to invest in some deodorizers and possibly also dehumidifiers.

In the case of gas installations, once again for much of the year it might be sensible to make sure that it is switched off at the mains. This might be modified in situations where you have gas fired heating and wish to leave a little gentle heat on during the depths of winter.

Finally, pests can quickly move into any unoccupied property, so you may wish to consider taking whatever steps you think to be necessary to minimize such risks.

Remember that once established, it can be very difficult to remove pest infestations.