Government statistics reveal that 635,000 homes in England are empty, with more than 200,000 having been empty for six months or more.
Whether it’s because you’re waiting to move in, renovating, or using your property as a second home, there are plenty of reasons a property could be left unoccupied for an extended period of time.
What counts as unoccupied?
For a property to be considered unoccupied, it will have been empty for 30 days or more.
Why is this taken into account?
When a home is left unattended, it’s considered to be at a higher risk from things like vandalism, squatters, flooding and fire because no one is there day in, day out.
What does this mean?
If your house is going to be classed as unoccupied for a period of time, then it could be worth you taking various measures to ensure that it is protected, including taking out specialist home insurance.
Unoccupied property: things to consider
1) Can you tell it’s unoccupied?
It’s important to make sure that it looks occupied from an outside perspective if you can – for example with timer operated light switches, or a car parked in the driveway. This helps to deter thieves and squatters.
2) Have you secured the property?
If you’re leaving your property unattended for a period of time then it makes sense to take appropriate measures to secure the property. From sealing the letterbox to prevent vandalism, to checking that the doors and windows have adequate locks, it’s key to make sure that your property is secure. It could also be worth investing in a burglar alarm – better to be safe than sorry.
3) Are you inspecting the property regularly?
It’s important that someone is regularly checking on the property so that any problems can be picked up early and repaired before they become costly.
4) Have you taken the relevant precautions?
Although you’re not be using the property, you might still be well advised to leave your heating running in winter to prevent problems. Keeping your heating running on low might be another outgoing, if you leave it off and the pipes freeze, for example, then you’ll have a costly repair bill on your hands. If you’re leaving the property unoccupied for a long period of time, then it might make sense to switch off some of the utilities, such as water and gas, to prevent potential issues arising.
5) What’s inside?
As well as thinking about protecting the property itself, it’s also important to consider protecting its contents. What’s inside the property and how much is it worth? Valuables and items that could be considered ‘high risk’ should be removed if possible, as they could increase the chance of burglary.
6) Unoccupied home insurance
Specialist insurance for unoccupied properties comes in many forms, including a Pay As You Go option which lets you pay for as short or long a time period you need, without lumping you with any costly cancellation fees. You must inform your insurer that your property is classed as unoccupied; otherwise they could refuse a claim.
At Computerquote Insurance we have specialist insurance options suited for unoccupied or vacant properties. If you have a property that will be empty for more than 30 consecutive days, then get in touch, and we’ll find the best policy to suit your needs.