Keep your empty property safe

Posted: 3rd Jan 2018

Thieves love empty property.

This is a long-established wisdom and one that is regularly restated by the police and the insurance industry.

Typically, empty properties come into one of two categories;

  • those that are simply empty or unoccupied for short periods, such as if you and your family are away visiting relatives one weekend;
  • properties that are unoccupied for extended periods in cases like a lengthy overseas business trip, taking a once-in-a-lifetime extended holiday over say two or three months, or an empty property awaiting probate.

In both cases, there may be some relatively modest activities you can undertake in order to reduce the risks of burglars entering your property while it is empty. Some of these are given below.

In the second case above, please remember that you will typically also require specific unoccupied property insurance in order to ensure that your property insurance cover remains fully in place. If you’d like to know more about such cover, we at Cover4LetProperty will be only too pleased to offer further advice.

Camouflage the status of your property

Typically, burglars look for indications over time that a property is unoccupied. As a result, anything you can do to eliminate such giveaway signs may reduce the risk of illegal intrusion. Those steps might include:

  • making sure that all external areas of your property are kept clean, tidy and in “lived-in” appearance. That includes things like keeping the grass cut and ensuring rubbish is not left to accumulate;
  • thinking about putting a light or two on timer switches, to cause uncertainty in the mind of potential burglars;
  • having a neighbour or trusted friend to periodically adjust the position of things such as the blinds and curtains in your windows;
  • taking whatever steps are required in order to avoid the build-up of post in mailboxes, letter boxes for even on the floor of hallways;
  • avoiding putting up signs anywhere confirming that you are away and advising people what to do in the interim;
  • not allowing builders, if your property is unoccupied whilst building works are undertaken, to post publicity signs outside confirming they are working on it.

Increase the risks for potential intruders

In most cases, burglars are looking for easy opportunities and particularly those that appear to offer a low risk of discovery. Anything that means they will need to invest more time and effort getting in, might prove to be a serious deterrent:

  • fit approved locks and bolts. Don’t economise here but instead use those which are recommended by professionals or the police’s crime prevention units;
  • consider fitting external PIR or similar lighting that will come on if intruders are about (make sure such lighting conforms to local council guidelines and restrictions);
  • having a burglar alarm is typically a very good idea as a deterrent. Plus, your property insurance provider may give you a discount on the cost of your cover if you have a regularly serviced and maintained alarm.

A further word on insurance

This brief blog has not touched on other categories of risks arising with unoccupied properties, such as those associated with leaking pipes etc.

However, in terms of criminal intrusion and other potential forms of property damage, whatever steps you take, you may in a worst-case scenario need to fall back on your unoccupied property insurance.

Remember that some empty property insurance cover is rather more limited than that available with other policies. For example, some policies of this type might only offer what is called “FLEA” protection – standing for Fire, Lightning, Explosion and Aircraft.

You may find that type of cover is too limited for your peace of mind and selecting an appropriate policy is something that you may need specialist assistance with. Why not call us today on 0800 9707 172 to find out more?

Further reading: Guide to Unoccupied Property