It's an unfortunate fact of life that an empty property can sometimes be something of a magnet for trouble.
That's why it is always sensible to have unoccupied house insurance in place once your property passes the maximum number of unoccupied cover days permitted by your standard policy.
However, problems are always better avoided than dealt with. So, we at UKinsuranceNET would like to offer you some top tips relating to keeping your property safe:
- disguise the fact that it is empty. This is typically fairly easy and involves things such as making sure there are no visible accumulations of post, keeping all external areas and gardens tidy and perhaps putting some lights on timer switches;
- disconnect utility suppliers at source. Gas and water continuing to circulate in pipes around an unoccupied property may be an accident waiting to happen. In fact, some unoccupied property cover may make this a mandatory requirement;
- avoid advertising the fact that it is empty. There may not be much point in trying to hide the fact that it is empty, as outlined above, if you then mention that fact in advertisements. Be a little cautious about just who you tell that your property is standing unoccupied and if it is due to renovations, ask builders to avoid hanging advertising signs outside of windows;
- move things around. Thieves, vandals and potentially squatters, typically don't like uncertainty about the occupancy status of a property. Therefore, periodically visit the property and move around ornaments visible in windows and adjust the positions of curtains;
- notify trusted neighbours. This may be something that requires judgment, as it might run contrary to some of the above advice but if you know and trust a neighbour, ask them to keep an eye on your property. They may quickly notify the police or you if anything looks untoward;
- consider installing additional security. It is true that you cannot turn a house into a fortress but many thieves and vandals prefer easy access and low-risk opportunities. Things such as professional security locks and bolts plus alarms may be a serious deterrent to many;
- visit your property regularly to check for problems. Things such as pest infestations or a leaking pipe are best seen and dealt with immediately rather than being allowed to cause cumulative damage. Once again, some policies may make this a mandatory obligation as part of providing unoccupied house cover;
- do not disconnect or place telephone lines on answerphones. Some thieves try to assess the status of properties over the phone and disconnected lines or permanent answerphones are sometimes seen as a green light for illegal entry. Instead, consider having a number rerouted to your mobile or your own land line.
Sometimes just a little thought and preventative action may help avoid some of the more common problems and it might be something that helps you achieve a little more peace of mind.
Image by Danny McL https://flic.kr/p/67Wg6B