Your house is your most valuable investment, so leaving it unoccupied for an extended period of time can be an understandably daunting prospect for many homeowners. You may be waiting to sell your home or have been leaving a second property empty, or temporarily relocated while renovations are taking place. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of things you can do to protect your property while nobody is living there. Here are three points to consider before you vacate.
Vacant Property Services
Unoccupied homes can be very expensive to insure as these are considered high-risk properties.
Vacant buildings are more likely to attract vandals, thieves, and squatters, and with nobody in the house to promptly deal with any accidents that arise, these could culminate in far more serious issues. As a result, it’s highly recommended that homeowners take measures to provide a cost-effective solution to the problem.
Professional vacant property services can make a huge difference to the overall cost of your home. For instance, property protection company Oaksure note that by assigning a property guardian to a vacant home, the average insurance premiums decreases by 40%. A property guardian is hired to live in a vacant building and, in return for lower housing costs, ensures that a homeowner doesn’t need to spend huge sums of money on security and maintenance, which is estimated at almost £250,000.
The role has attracted much attention in the UK due to the rising cost of rent and the thousands of empty homes across the country. By allowing somebody else to take responsibility for your home, the building’s condition will not deteriorate. In fact, many vacant property services often improve the state of their customers’ homes by conducting tasks like waste removal and security upgrades. Overall, property guardianship makes for a particularly attractive prospect, as the scheme ultimately saves money for both homeowner and tenant. Plus, if your empty property is properly looked after, the house will remain in liveable condition and be ready for future occupation.
Before you vacate your home, it’s very important that you complete any home improvements you need to deter intruders from breaking in. An unoccupied property is incredibly vulnerable, so think about improving your security system, and ensuring that all possible entry points to your home are in good working order.
Start by turning your attention to the building’s exterior lighting. You should aim to incorporate a combination of motion activated lights as well as bulbs that are on timers, and do the same for any sheds or garages on the property as well. All entrances to your home should be particularly well lit, and any insecure doors and windows must be replaced before you leave the property. Strong locks that have the British Standard Kitemark fitted are essential, and often a requirement for many insurance providers.
It may also be useful to invest in some of the latest high-tech home security systems.You could install security cameras to capture and send footage directly to your smartphone, or a presence sensor that alerts you whenever anybody leaves or arrives at your home. There are also lighting systems that can be programmed to turn on and off in a pattern during the course of a day, in order to look like somebody is inside the house.
In addition to increasing your home’s overall security, you mustn’t forget to protect your home from the elements in order to keep it in optimum condition. A programmable thermostat can help regulate the property’s temperature across the seasons. As with the aforementioned security cameras, an increasing number of smart thermostats use Wi-Fi, allowing you to adjust the temperature of your home remotely.
Support from the Neighbours
If you’re unable to visit your home on a regular basis, you could try and find a friend, relative, or neighbour willing to check in on the property for you. As well as keeping the place clean and tidy, they will also be alert and on the lookout for any potential security breaches.
You could also inform your local Neighbourhood Watch organisation that your property will soon be vacant. Joining Neighbourhood Watch may lower the cost of your home insurance, and being part of the group means that you will have an entire community behind you when it comes to keeping your property safe and secure.
If possible, you could also encourage members of your community to download Neighbours, a free app launched by Ring, Amazon’s smart-doorbell company. Launched in the US in May 2018 and, according to CEO Jamie Siminoff, over a million users are using the platform to share information on alleged crimes and suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods, helping make them safer places to live. You are not required to own a Ring device in order to download Neighbours, and using the app will allow you to maintain access to the goings-on of your neighbourhood even while you’re away from your home. If you are unable to download Neighbours, you could keep in touch via alternative community-based apps such as Next door or Neighbourly.