Wednesday, 15 July 2015
Issues with vacant properties
When it comes to vacant properties, there are a few issues that you (if you’re the owner of an unoccupied home) should be aware of.
The issues surrounding vacant properties
Empty homes are a magnet for criminal activity, not just in the form of burglary (if your unoccupied home is furnished or has any installations that could be attractive to thieves) but also for unlawful squatting, vandalism or arson, which can be problems for both furnished and unfurnished homes alike. If you are a landlord and your property is left vacant while you try to find tenants, or if your property is unoccupied for any other reason for that matter, it is vital that you take the appropriate precautions.
The "appropriate precautions" are not limited to getting the necessary insurance (vacant house insurance is essential though) but also taking steps to secure your home and make sure that you inspect it regularly. There may be a number of barriers you face while trying to get unoccupied house insurance cover, as insurers are often reluctant to provide unoccupied insurance policies. Taking the steps to secure your home is not just a part of responsible home ownership, but if you make them a priority then you are likely to find that you can get house insurance unoccupied cover at a more reasonable price.
Insurer approved security
Installing insurer approved security equipment will go a long way toward making your property insurable. This could include the proper types of lock for non-entry/exit point doors and windows, installing intruder alarms and taking action to identify/remove opportunities for intruders. Fire alarm systems are also an absolute must and, as with intruder alarms, it is best if the alarms are monitored by a base station at another off-site location. Removing combustible material, such as junk mail, regularly will help to reduce the fire risk to the property. Giving contact details to trusted neighbours so that they can get in touch with you should they notice anything untoward would also be a good idea.
Another issue you will need to think about is council tax. An empty home may qualify for some level of discount from council tax for a specified period of time. Exemption will usually apply for a period of up to 6 months for an empty property that is substantially unfurnished, providing it is not occupied during that period. Beware that it is up to your local council to determine whether your property is exempt or not, and in some cases coucils can in fact charge extra Council Tax for vacant properties.
Preserve your plumbing
Other steps you should consider revolve around preserving your property's plumbing. This means draining down the pipes during the winter months or at the very least leaving the heating on at regular intervals. This is advisable because pipes are prone to freezing and subsequently leaking during cold spells. You should always attempt to protect your plumbing during the icy winter months. You should also remove any hazards that might harm someone entering your home whether you are there or not, and think about getting post redirected for the period that the home will remain empty.
Many home insurance providers will not cover your property if it is left vacant for an extended period of time, regardless of the reason for being unoccupied or the steps you have taken to make it more secure. HomeProtect are not like most insurers. With HomeProtect you can get a competitive online quote for landlord's insurance, vacant house insurance or holiday home insurance, regardless of how long your property is expected to be empty for. We specialise in providing cover to people in in non-standard insurance situations so unoccupied house cover is right up our street.