If your property is standing empty or unoccupied, it might be particularly vulnerable to things such as theft, burglary and so on.
In such a situation, while you can't make your property a fortress, there may be some steps you can take to help cut down some of the risks you face:
- remember that if your property is standing unoccupied while vacant, insurance implications might arise and it may be useful to discuss them in advance with an expert such as UKinsuranceNET. That might include a discussion relating to unoccupied property cover;
- it goes without saying that you should ensure that your doors and windows are protected with appropriate security locks. In some cases, that may be an obligation under the terms of your insurance policy;
- you may also wish to install a burglar alarm if you do not already have one. These can be a serious deterrent to casual and opportunistic burglars and may also entitle you to discounted premiums with some insurance providers;
- avoid making it obvious that your property is empty. All the usual age-old advice here remains perfectly valid today. That includes things such as avoiding the build-up of post, putting lights on timer switches and periodically moving curtains around;
- ask trusted neighbours to keep a particular eye out for issues with the property. This sort of attention can prove to be worth its weight in gold;
- don't mention in public-domain advertisements that the property is currently empty. This is telegraphing to potential thieves and vandals that they may be able to enter with little chance of being disturbed;
- re-route calls to land lines at the property through to your mobile. This might confuse burglars and thieves carrying out reconnaissance and introduce a note of doubt into their minds. It might be far more effective than putting an answerphone on the number concerned;
- be cautious with property agencies erecting To Let signs. That might also make it very obvious that nobody is in residence;
- visit the property regularly but on an unpredictable date and time basis. Try to avoid always doing so at a certain time on specific days, as this might be picked up by watching eyes and seen to be predictable;
- many intrusions arise on an entirely opportunistic basis and typically these unscrupulous individuals look for easy pickings with the minimum of effort. Therefore, it hopefully is just common sense to ensure that all doors and windows are fully locked at all times;
- if your tenants normally park their cars on your driveway, you may wish to invite a neighbour to do likewise while the property is unoccupied. This might, once again, introduce an element of uncertainty into watching criminal eyes;
- burglars and vandals don't like carrying the tools of their trade with them in the street, as it's too risky if they're stopped and searched. They'll typically look for things available to help them on or around the target property once there. So, don't leave garden tools lying around or easily accessible in sheds etc.
In some areas, the local police force may have special arrangements for offering advice and guidance from community support officers in such situations.
Their advice is typically free and might be extremely valuable to you.