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Securing an Empty Home

There are many reasons as to why you might need to leave your property empty for a period of time. Perhaps you are going on holiday or moving house and haven’t sold yours yet or perhaps you’re renovating your new home before you move in. Whilst leaving your property empty it is vital that you ensure it is secured to prevent any break-ins. Did you know there are also rules about leaving your property vacant in the UK? Below is some useful advice on how to secure your home when leaving it empty and the rules around leaving it vacant!


When going on holiday

If you’re leaving your home vacant for a week or two whilst you’re going on holiday follow these top 10 easy security tips below:

  1. First things first, lock all of your doors and windows. Consider upgrading to a high security lock if you don’t have one installed already.
  2. Hide all valuables out of sight, consider leaving your blinds partly closed or putting up temporary privacy film so that your curtains aren’t always closed and give hint to burglars watching that you’re away.
  3. Activate your burglar alarm if you have one.
  4. Leave a key with a trusted neighbour and inform them of your dates you’re expected to be away so they can keep a look out for any strange activity.
  5. Do not post that you are away on social media until you are back; you never know who may be watching.
  6. Consider leaving your lights on a timer to appear that you are home.
  7. Park a car in the driveway whilst you’re away if you can. If you live near a city centre you could always think about renting your parking space out for the few days you’re away.
  8. Install a smart doorbell. If you’re considering updating your home security for the long run why not consider installing a smart doorbell before you go away. A smart doorbell comes with a range of features including video playback when triggered, two-way audio and more. When triggered many smart doorbells will send a notification to your phone so you can see what is going on live and chat to whoever may be at your door.
  9. Re-arrange delivery dates. Don’t forget to rearrange any parcels that may be arriving during your time away or request that they are delivered to a trusted neighbour or friend.
  10. Never leave a spare key under a doormat or plant pot or anywhere else ‘hidden’ in case of an emergency. If you can think of that hiding place, so can a burglar.


For longer term

If you’re planning on leaving your property vacant for a longer term than a couple of weeks, perhaps you’re a landlord in between tenants or have bought a new property and are in the midst of selling yours there are a few more steps that you should take to in order to be less vulnerable against burglar attacks.

  1. Pick up your post regularly. A big indicator that no one is home is a big pile of unread post left in your mailbox or on your doormat. If you can’t get to your property easily ask a trusted neighbour to pick up it up for you. You can reduce the amount of postage by redirecting your post to your new property and leaving a ‘no junk mail’ sign on the door to help combat the build up.
  2. Have someone visit the property regularly so that any burglars watching will see that it hasn’t been left fully vacant.
  3. Ensure you keep the perimeter in good condition, cut the grass where need be and ensure the fences are repaired after a storm. This will indicate that the property is lived in or looked after therefore putting off any chance burglars.
  4. Boarding up windows and doors. You may consider boarding up the windows and doors to your property if you are planning to leave it vacant for a long time. Not only will this prevent burglars coming in but it will prevent any squatters or looters too who may damage your property. We offer a boarding up service here at the NGCL find out more about it here!
  5. Install a 24hr CCTV camera. If your property doesn’t already have CCTV in place it is a good idea to install it when leaving it vacant so you can keep an eye on your property when you’re not around.


How long can you leave a house empty?

There are currently no set rules on how long you can leave a property empty for in the UK but there are a few laws you need to be aware of that your local authority could implement. The rules about leaving your property vacant in the UK are:

  1. EMDO (Empty Dwelling Management Order). This law can give your local council if you live in England or Wales the power to enter your property, upgrade any necessary changes and prevent you from gaining access to your property if it has been vacant for longer than two years. However, this is a rare instance and it is only implemented if the council need to enforce the state of the property to become habitable again and cannot come to an agreement with you.


Unoccupied Home Insurance

Did you know that your home insurance may only cover your property for 30-60 days depending on your insurer? If you’re planning on leaving your property empty we strongly recommend you take a read through your insurance policy to see how long your property will be insured for.

However, you can purchase ‘unoccupied home insurance’ this type of insurance will cover for more events including theft and vandalism, fire, flood or storm damage and squatter damage. Unoccupied home insurance is usually more expensive than standard home insurance due to these greater risks. You can insure your property with unoccupied home insurance usually starting from 3 months to a year. Another example where you might need unoccupied home insurance is a holiday home where it is in use for only a few times a year.