If your tenants are taking a holiday and going away this Christmas, they are going to leave your let accommodation unoccupied.
With the property left empty, you need to consider two main issues if you want to keep the place free from emergencies, loss and damage for the duration. These are the twin prerequisites of maintenance and security.
While your landlord insurance offers protection against all manner of perils, you must also play your part in mitigating any loss or damage. Failure to do so and your insurer might allege your contributory negligence or even dismiss any subsequent claim for compensation.
When there is no one home, even the simplest routine need for maintenance might turn into an emergency. A dripping tap, for example, is likely to get worse if it is not attended to and could end up flooding the whole property.
Before your tenants go away on their holiday, therefore, arrange to visit your let property and check whether anything needs to be maintained or repaired before they vacate the premises.
While they are away, arrange further inspection visits to check that everything remains in order.
The Tenants’ Voice reminds landlords that they need to give 24 hours’ notice in writing of any intention to enter the let premises to make such an inspection – but, given the entirely reasonable nature of your request, they have no grounds to refuse.
One of the precautions you might want to discuss with your tenants at a time when freezing weather might strike at any time is the need to maintain an ambient level of background heat in the let property to prevent pipes freezing and bursting. To win their cooperation, you might even offer to share the extra fuel costs this is likely to entail.
Your let property is more vulnerable to burglars and other intruders while the tenants are on holiday and no one is living there.
Impress on your tenants, therefore, the need to make sure that the front door is properly locked and that windows are closed.
You might want to take this opportunity to upgrade the locks on any external doors and – especially if the accommodation is on the ground floor – to consider installing locks on the windows and any patio doors.
Ask your tenants to cancel any regular deliveries. During your inspection visits, make sure to take inside any that have been left in their absence.
If you know the neighbours, you might also ask them to keep an eye on the property and to alert you to any suspicious goings-on.
Unoccupied property insurance
In the – entirely possible – event that your tenants are taking an extended holiday this Christmas, you may also need to consider the need for unoccupied property insurance.
Take a closer look at your landlord insurance policy, and you are likely to find that its cover becomes severely restricted – or might even lapse altogether – once your let property has been empty for more than 30-45 consecutive days or so.
If that is the case, you need specialist unoccupied property insurance to maintain the protection you require for both the structure and fabric of the building and any contents you own.
For further tips, please read our article – Is your tenant ready for Christmas?