Vacant Properties in Winter

October, 2022

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As we approach the winter months and the weather begins to cool, it is worthwhile to take the time to ensure that your home is 'winter proofed.'

All homeowners, landlords, and tenants must consider how to care for a property throughout the winter months, but when a property is vacant, it is easy to neglect and must be addressed immediately to avoid significant winter damage.

There are several reasons you could decide to vacate your house for an extended period of time, including a long holiday, extended business travel, home improvements, a long void period if you’re a landlord or you live elsewhere and actively attempting to sell a vacant house.

Whatever the cause, there are some safety issues to take into account that might affect your insurance. The majority of common house insurance policies only offer complete coverage for vacant homes for up to 60 days. A vacant property is significantly more likely to experience water damage, vandalism, and even squatters.

water leak empty property

How should you set your central heating?
Many household insurance policies will have heating conditions within the policy wording. Check through your policy for the minimum temperature required of your central heating and make sure that you have it set correctly. If there is no such condition, it is recommended that you keep the heating set at a low level, around 14C continuously. Alternatively, set the heating to come on for a couple of hours, early morning and late evening to prevent pipes from freezing.
Do you have water tanks and pipework in the loft?

If you have a water tank or pipework within your loft space, these can be susceptible to freezing. Some home insures dictate that loft hatches should be left open by 30cm or 12 inches to allow warmer air from the main areas of the property to circulate in the roof space which will aid in preventing pipes and tanks freezing.
An alternative would be to drain the water from the heating system and pipework. But be careful of small pockets of water remaining in the system though, it’s best to have a professional plumber undertake this, as if it’s not done correctly, it can cause serious damage to your boiler or property. One of these two measures is likely to be a requirement of any insurance you have.

Flooding empty property

Regular Inspections
Ask a someone such as a neighbour, friend or Estate Agent, to keep an eye on the property while its vacant. It is important that the property is inspected regularly, and records are taken, just in case anything goes wrong.
Heating malfunctions, blocked drains and gutters, loose tiles or damage to building can lead to much larger issues developing quickly, so it is essential that maintenance is dealt with immediately. Insurers are known to stipulate various minimum requirements for inspections and reporting.
What about outside? 
This is often overlooked but equally as important as the above. You should ensure that the grounds outside the empty property are kept tidy and appear cared for. With darker and colder evenings, a property that looks to be obviously vacant can attract unwelcome visitors or malicious damage. Equally an overgrown garden is a haven for pests that could enter your property looking for warmth or hibernation.
If you are in the process of selling or you’re in between tenants it is important that your property is occupied quickly. Should it be that it’s taking a while to attract that occupant, maybe it’s time for a different approach.

Arlington Park Estate & Letting Agents in Norwich has a proven track record in selling or letting properties where other agents have struggled or failed. Thanks to our enhanced marketing and 5 Star rated service we are able to market your property to its full potential and see it through to completion, without compromise.
Contact us today to discuss your needs.

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