Empty Properties over the Christmas Holiday by sponsor Unoccupied Direct

In this article, Wayne Shinn, Business Development Executive for specialist unoccupied property insurance provider Unoccupied Direct, shares his tips on checking a property that has been standing empty over the Christmas holidays.

 

It’s January. Welcome back to work. Your brain feels foggy, you’ve had far too many mince pies and naps by the fire. Nothing on your desk has moved since last year, your inbox counter has reached triple figures.

 

It’s tempting to begin the trawl through those emails, but it’s not just your office that has been stood empty since the last decade. Spare a thought for the empty properties that your clients have entrusted you to look after. Especially during the winter months, any one of a number of problems could have arisen with nobody around to keep an eye on the situation.

 

Whilst other insurers may require you to make regular checks on unoccupied property, we don’t, but that’s not to say it’s not a good idea regardless. Your clients will appreciate their solicitor going the extra mile. Plus, noticing a problem before it has a chance to take hold will save a lot of misery down the road.

 

If you decide to be proactive and check on an empty property after Christmas, here are the top things to watch out for:

 

Frozen Pipes

 

We stipulate that unoccupied property must have the heating continuously running at 12°C between 1st November and 31st March or that the water system must be drained completely. This policy allows us to insure against burst pipes during the winter months where other providers may exclude this from their cover.


If you aren’t sure about how to drain the water system, check with your local plumber. It can often be surprisingly affordable and will use far less energy than leaving the heating running continuously over winter.

 

Forced Entry

 

Empty property may attract burglars looking for anything left behind, and could also draw in squatters. Look out for signs of forced entry like broken windows and damaged doors. Check sheds, garages and outbuildings too, looking for any signs of someone living there. If you find evidence this should be reported to our policy team to cover any damage caused. You will also need to contact the police as this is a criminal rather than civil matter.

 

Vermin

 

It’s not just people that may try and move in to your unoccupied property, houses naturally attract rodents and insects looking for a place to nest in the cold weather, but with nobody around to keep an eye on the situation, infestations can rapidly take hold. Look out for droppings, chewed wiring and wood, greasy marks along the bottom of the wall and the actual critters themselves.

 

Damp

 

Unheated houses can rapidly acquire a build-up of damp. Check for musty smells, dark or discoloured plaster, peeling wallpaper, a large amount of condensation and of course, mould on the floors, ceilings and walls. This problem can often be combatted by propping the loft hatch and internal doors open to allow air to flow through. Also, keeping the heating on low can help reduce the risk of damp escalating.

 

Exterior

 

Over the Christmas period, we often get bad weather. Strong wind and heavy rain may dislodge roof tiles, blow down trees and fences or even cause flooding. Ensure that the outside of the house looks in a good state of repair. Not only will this protect against even further, costly damage, but the house will not look so obviously empty to potential intruders.

 

Our quotes and policies can be arranged online, while we offer a helpful LiveChat feature on our website for you to speak with one of our advisors, at www.unoccupieddirect.co.uk, by emailing bdms@unoccupieddirect.co.uk or call me directly on 07833 446070.

 

Unoccupied Direct is a trading name of Unoccupied Direct Limited.  Unoccupied Direct Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number: 797627. Registered Office: The Walbrook Building, 25 Walbrook, London EC4N 8AW. Registered in England & Wales. Company Number: 10621712. Unoccupied Direct Limited is part of the Gallagher group of companies.

 

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