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New Government figures have revealed that more than a quarter of a million homes are currently classified as ‘long-term empty’ which means they have been unoccupied for at least six months. There may be many reasons for this – landlords may be between tenants, or there may be financial or planning issues – and the coronavirus restrictions haven’t helped matters by making moves more difficult.
Clover Insurance can offer a range of unoccupied house insurance quotes for customers in Harlow, Cheshunt, St Albans and throughout Hertfordshire. Here are our top tips if you own a property which has suddenly become unoccupied.
Get (Re-) Insured
Insurers can reduce cover, or withdraw it completely, if a property is left empty for a period of 30 consecutive days or more. This is because empty homes are considered more vulnerable to break-ins and burglaries, as well as being more at risk from the elements.
In situations like these you should consult your insurer or broker to find out what your existing level of cover is, and what, if any, additional protection you need.
Watch the Weather
Many of the problems which owners of unoccupied properties have to face are seasonal or natural ones, relating to the weather. Storms and high winds can damage cause structural damage, ranging from dislodged roof tiles to more serious issues. If the property has a garden, it is important to keep it in good order by clearing up any fallen leaves, and making sure the grass is mown regularly. This will help to make the property looked well maintained – and less likely to be noticed as being empty.
Cold weather can easily lead to frozen pipes, particularly to external fixtures and fittings. To avoid this, either turn your water off completely at the mains, or leave the heating on continuously at a low temperature. Outside pipes should be lagged to prevent freezing. In periods of heavy rain, check for any signs of internal leaks, particularly if the property has a flat roof.
Whatever the cause, any damage to your vacant property should be repaired as soon as possible.
Visit It Regularly
Owners should be prepared to carry out regular inspections of any empty properties to check for any new damage. Some policies insist on this before they will validate your claim. Visits should be carried out all the year round, not just during periods of extreme weather, and at different times of the day as well.
Keep a log, both written and photographic, of the state of the property. This will help you to identify any problems early on and may help you if you ever need to make a claim. If you are unable to visit the property because of lockdown rules, you should take ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure that the premises are secure. Check the wording of your policy, or call your insurer, to find out what this means in practice.
Protect Your Valuables
Make sure any valuables have been removed completely, or at least are out of sight, so they don’t make your property a target for any would-be thieves or burglars. If you haven’t got any available space yourself then consider using a secure self-storage facility. If the property is at risk of flooding, put any valuables such as electrical goods on the top floor to reduce the risk of damage.
Remove any postal deliveries which may build up on the mat and provide clues that no one is at home or inside. The Royal Mail will redirect any mail if a tenant has moved to a new address.
Add Security Measures
If the property is going to be unoccupied for a prolonged period of time, then you should assess the security measures you have in place. Check that any locks on windows and doors are in in good condition; if they aren’t, or if the tenant or leaseholder has moved out under bad terms, consider changing them.
If you think the premises are vulnerable, then install extra measures such as outside security lights.
Unoccupied House Insurance Quotes from Clover Insurance
If you are interested in unoccupied house insurance quotes for properties in Harlow, Cheshunt and the surrounding area, then Clover Insurance can help you. We offer a range of specialist policies for owners of unoccupied properties. The basis level of cover, Option One, protects against damage caused by fire, lightning, explosions and earthquakes, as well as problems caused by subsidence and landslip.
Option Two includes additional protection including any damage caused by storms, flooding and snow, any internal escape of water, as well as problems caused by falling trees and lampposts. Our most comprehensive level of cover, Option Three, will also include everything in Option Two as well as theft, attempted theft and malicious damage.
If you would like to know more about about our unoccupied house insurance, click here. You can also contact us by calling 020 8805 1121 or 01992 630095. We also offer a variety of other products, including let property insurance and home insurance.