There is an estimated 600,000 homes that are Unoccupied in the UK according to government data. The reasons vary from Probate to Property owners to second homes to vacant council houses, occasionally being refurbished or due to house price inflation, maximising property values.
Whatever the reason, vacant (unoccupied) properties carry additional risks for the property owner, particularly when left empty for long periods of time. Some of the main risks are detailed below and what can be considered by the owners to mitigate potential problems.
Escape of Water
A significant risk associated with vacant properties is water damage. Most insurers will insist on regular visits to the property by the owner or someone approved by them. They will also, in most cases, require the water to be turned off at the mains, to minimise damage. However, if a building is unoccupied for a number of months, without regular inspections and with the water still on, there is a significantly increased risk of water damage, including burst pipes, small water leak that are not visible from the outset and significant water damage that could cause damage to neighboring properties, especially flats or maisonettes with 2 or more levels. To reduce the risk, water should be turned off.
Unoccupied properties are at risk of being occupied by unwanted guests, such as squatters, especially if not inspected regularly. In 2012 new British Law’s where passed to help home ‘Owners’ evict squatters quicker but the resulting damage can be extensive and costly to repair. To reduce squatting, properties should give the impression of being occupied, automatic curtains and light timers could reduce the chances of opportunist taking advantage.
Furnished Unoccupied Properties
Properties which are unoccupied normally do not contain contents but under certain circumstances, such as probate or poor health, properties are left with personal contents, leaving the property vulnerable and at greater risk of being burgled. Thieves generally target unoccupied properties or the elderly. Ensuring British Standard door and window locks are fitted and where possible a NACOSS approved maintained alarm is in operation, will minimise potential issues.
Should you require help insuring your unoccupied property, please contact Quote 2 Insure, who will be more than happy to offer a competitive quotation or further advise or other insurance requirements.