When your home is due to become vacant for an extended period of time, the list of things you have to do to seal its safety can seem overwhelming. Here, we provide a list of five essential steps that you should take to prepare your home for vacancy.
These steps help to protect your unoccupied home from environmental damage, rodents and fire hazards and ensure that you are meeting the conditions of your unoccupied home insurance policy.
Furniture is an expensive investment and one that you will want to protect from damage from rodents, dust and mould. Do not store mattresses flat on the floor if you are storing them separately from the bed frames. Instead, prop them up so as little an area as possible is touching the ground. This reduces the possibility of mould growing on the surface.
If you are storing the mattress and bed frame together, ensure that the bed is situated a few inches from the wall all of the way around. This allows air to circulate and helps prevent dampness accumulating in your vacant home.
Cover your furniture with blankets and sheets. This protects the colours and patterns from fading in sunlight and prevents dust build up. Dust build ups can be hard to remove and often leave your furniture with a lasting smell of must.
Covering your furniture can protect it from disturbances or damage caused by rodents or other animals. If precautions have not been taken to protect furniture in a vacant home, your unoccupied home insurance policy may become invalid.
Protect Against Rodents
Wash out your bins carefully, particularly in your kitchen, as strong smells and food remnants attract rodents. Vermin will feast on anything, including soaps, candles and sponges, so ensure you pack these away carefully to deny them a food source.
Prepare Your Kitchen
Remove all food from your kitchen, including from your fridge, freezer and cupboards. If you do not wish to throw food away, consider donating to a local homeless charity. Ensure any dry foods that will survive an absence, such as rice, are stored in tightly closed containers.
Unplug and wipe down your fridge and freezer, removing all moisture that could cause mould. Leaving your fridge and freezer propped open with a towel can also prevent mould growth. Doing so can prevent plastic materials in fridges and freezers from absorbing smells from previous food. This tactic also works for other appliances, such as your kettle and microwave.
Weather Proof Your Home
Ensure that your home is maintained regularly, drains should be cleared, the roof should be checked for any slipped, damaged tiles, or inadequate guttering. Regular maintenance will usually be a condition of your unoccupied home insurance policy.
Property contained in the open such as patio furniture, heaters and expensive pots should be moved in doors or else secured to prevent any damage they may cause to the home.
To prevent burst pipes turn your water supply off at the mains and drain the water system in its entirety. Pour antifreeze into your toilet bowl and drains to prevent damage occurring from small remaining pools of water. This will be a typical requirement from any insurance provider when taking out home insurance for unoccupied homes.
• Install an Alarm:
Installing an alarm at your unoccupied home can prevent burglars, who are likely to choose an easier target. However, we would advise that you consider the effectiveness of fitting an alarm if the property is in a isolated area. Fitting grilles, shutters and good quality locks may be more effective. The presence of an alarm system can bring down the cost of insurance for unoccupied home owners.
• The spare key:
Ensure that you remove the spare key from its usual outdoor hiding place before you vacate the property.
• Security lighting:
Install lighting over entry points, this can deter opportunists!
• A friendly neighbour:
It is a good idea to get a neighbour to check your vacant home every few days to identify any signs of damage or suspicious activity. Unoccupied home insurance companies often stipulate that someone is assigned to regularly inspect a vacant property.
We at OBF hope that these five simple steps make it easier for you to prepare your home for the vacancy! For more tips on caring for specialist property, or information on unoccupied home insurance contact our expert team.