There might be any number of reasons why you are leaving property you own empty and unoccupied this coming winter:
- your work might be taking you away from home for several months;
- the home you live in, a holiday home or residential or commercial property you let to tenants might be in the process of renovation;
- you might be moving home, have already moved into the new property and are awaiting the sale of your original home;
- you might be escaping the winter altogether by taking an extended holiday in the sun; or
- your buy to let property may be unoccupied upon the termination of one tenancy pending the start of another.
In any of these events, the property insurance that normally protects the building and its contents is likely to expire or become severely limited after the first 30 to 45 consecutive days it has been left empty – because of the exceptional risks to which an unoccupied property is exposed.
At Cover4LetProperty, that is why we arrange special, purpose designed unoccupied property insurance for the duration of your property lying empty.
Playing your part in the protection of the empty property this winter
You might have taken the prudent step of ensuring that your empty property is adequately covered by insurance, but this alone does not absolve you from important precautions to minimise the risk of loss or damage.
There are a number of authoritative online resources offering tips and suggestions on the steps you might take:
- the Met Office, is one of these and advises the formulation of a flood plan before any such event takes place – especially if you are in an area known to be vulnerable to flooding;
- as temperatures plummet, burst water pipes present yet another risk of flooding and so these need to be properly lagged;
- snow too, may pose threats by blowing into the roof space, blocking air vents and adding undue weight for the roof itself to bear;
- as you might expect, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) offers considerably more detailed advice;
- in a nutshell, this may be summarised as looking at the property as a whole and thinking in terms of its walls, floors, roof, doors and windows – and then repairing, insulating and sealing wherever that is appropriate and possible;
- probably the single greatest precaution to take before winter sets in is to ensure that repairs are done and that the property is maintained in good order;
- specific points of concern may be to ensure that all gutters and rainwater goods are clear of leaves and other debris – remembering that overflowing water may cause considerable damage to outside walls;
- windows need to be locked closed, of course, but it is also important to make sure that rainwater runs off the glass and does not pool on the window sills or drain down behind them;
- prevent assaults by the elements on external doors by sealing around the frames and by fitting a simple cover over any letter box that is let into the door.
When your property is left empty in the winter time, there is no one immediately on hand to spot a minor problem and prevent it from developing into something more serious. Nevertheless, you need to arrange regular inspections of the property and satisfy yourself – and your insurers – that these have been conducted according to schedule and duly recorded.