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  • Stickies & Evergreen

    Threats faced by empty properties

    No landlord likes their rental property to be empty for obvious reasons, but it’s not just a lack of incoming rent that should be a cause for concern.

    Empty properties are at risk of a number of threats, including:

    1. Insurance

    If your property is empty, it is an increased insurance risk. You must notify your insurer, who, in some cases, will charge you an additional premium. Your insurer may also restrict cover during the period of unoccupancy. This is usually after the property has been unoccupied for 30 days.

    Here at Alan Boswell Group our market-leading landlord insurance provides cover for up to 90 days between tenants (subject to conditions), so you have time to get someone new in.

    2. Asset theft

    If your property is empty, it could be subject to theft. It’s important that your empty property is checked regularly to make sure that this isn’t happening. If you don’t live nearby, arrange for a trusted neighbour or letting agent to keep an eye on it.

    3. Weather damage

    Storm Doris got our phones ringing in January, with landlords calling to report storm-damaged properties. It’s worth keeping this in mind when we have extreme weather. Again, if your property is located some distance away from you, you may not be aware of damage, such as dislodged roof tiles, which may allow water to get into the property.

    Again, a friendly neighbour, or regular visits after inclement weather, will ensure that any damage is quickly spotted and repaired, to ensure the damage does not escalate.

    4. Internal problems

    If your property is empty, there’s no one present to report issues like burst pipes or a failed boiler. If it’s only going to be vacant for a short while, we recommend keeping it heated at a low ambient temperature, to ensure that pipes do not freeze during cold weather. For longer periods, consider draining the heating system and turning off the stopcock.

    5. Rodent infestation

    An empty property can attract rodents, which is a health hazard.

    A Sunderland landlord was recently found guilty at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court for failing to comply with a notice to remove an accumulation of rubbish and overgrown vegetation from the front and rear of a property he owns in the city.

    Liverpool City Council served notice after receiving complaints about rodents, and inspecting the property last June. In July the notice expired and, despite further warning letters, the owner did not carry out the work.

    The work was then carried out by the Council. The landlord was fined £750 and ordered to pay costs of £150.

    6. Vandalism

    An empty property can often attract vandalism, such as broken windows and graffiti, which is another reason for landlords to stop by and pick up post etc. It’s vital that vandals don’t think the property is unattended.

    7. Council Tax

    Most local authorities charge Council Tax to the landlord while the property is empty, which may mean you’re paying the bills while the property is empty.

    8. Property fraud

    An empty property with no mortgage on it is one of the key targets for property fraud, primarily when someone sells a property without actually owning it.

    To protect against this, set up a free property fraud alert service on the Land Registry.

    Free Land Registry Property Alert Service

    9. During refurbishment

    A property may be empty while being refurbished. You should notify your insurer if this is the case.

    Our landlord insurance will cover you for up to 90 days’ unoccupancy while you're doing the property up, or you could take out unoccupied or renovated property insurance, which will give you cover for a range of scenarios.

    Tips for empty properties:

    1. Visit regularly and pick up the post.

    2.  Keep the garden and exterior tidy so it doesn’t attract rodents, vandals, asset theft etc.

    3.  Register for the FREE Land Registry alert service.

    4.  If you don’t live nearby, ask a friendly neighbour or your letting agent to keep an eye on it.

    If we can assist with any of your landlord insurance needs, please call our friendly team on 01603 649736.

    *Transparency notice:  Alan Boswell Group is a commercial partner of Property Tribes.

    SEE ALSO  -        Welcoming Alan Boswell Group as a sponsor

    UP NEXT -            Landlord insurance unoccupied property

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    In England there are 200,000 homes that have been sitting empty for more than six months, according to new Government figures. This is equivalent to £43bn worth of housing stock.

    Full/source story