Unoccupied Property Winter Checklist

Preparing and maintaining your unoccupied property for the winter is a must if you want to protect yourself and your finances. As we’re now in the midst of the cold season, here are a few essential steps you can take to keep your property in good condition and avoid any needless expenses.

Service the boiler and keep it running

Make sure your boiler has been serviced at least annually. If you regularly maintain your boiler, it’s likely to run more efficiently and have a longer life span. It’s often one of the biggest expenses to replace or repair a boiler. So, having someone check it regularly prevents the need to fork out for any unwanted costs.

You also want to ensure that you keep the boiler running over the winter months. In doing so, you’ll ensure the property is kept to a maintenance temperature to avoid mould and burst pipes. It also helps keep the boiler running and prevents it from sitting idle.

Call on your neighbours

Let your neighbours know the property is empty and ask them to keep an eye on it on your behalf.

Most neighbours will gladly keep an eye out on the house, as it’s in their best interests: preventing your property from becoming a target for thieves and causing issues in the neighbourhood benefits everyone.

Check pipes

Checking the insulation around pipes is intact, and ensuring the water has been turned off, is critical. After all, burst pipes and water damage are the most common types of insurance claims for properties.

If you have a cleaner coming into the property or any workers, such as builders, they may turn pipes back on when in the property. It’s always a great idea to make sure these are switched off, and all the insulation is intact.

Visit the unoccupied property regularly

Physically checking an empty property is a great way to ensure you keep on top of any problems that could arise. Set yourself a regular schedule to visit the property once or twice a week in winter to make sure any issues are spotted early and resolved before they escalate.

Cut trees and clear gutters

Money doesn’t grow on trees – and unfortunately, you’ll be paying out a lot of it if you don’t keep on top of them. Branches falling onto the property – or, even worse, a person – could cause you a lot of trouble.

This is especially prevalent in winter as snow builds up on trees, causing them to weigh more and therefore increasing the chance of them shedding branches or toppling over.

With falling leaves and branches, your gutters can get clogged up, too. So, it’s a smart idea to keep them clear to prevent water damage with increased snow and rain in winter.

Check your insurance policy

Most insurance policies will have unoccupancy warranties, conditions or endorsements.

These will spell out precisely what you need to do while the property is unoccupied, such as visiting the property every seven days or installing an alarm.

You have to comply with these to ensure your policy remains valid. The last thing you want to happen is to have something like a burst pipe, only to find out you’re not covered and you have to cover this unexpected cost yourself.

You also need to ensure you’re on the correct insurance policy. A standard property owner’s policy may only allow 45 to 60 days of unoccupancy, after which cover becomes invalid.

If you have more extended periods of unoccupancy or are renovating a property, you will need a specific unoccupied or unoccupied renovation policy to ensure you are covered correctly.

Get advice

If all of this sounds too much, you don’t have to manage it all on your own. Our experienced property insurance adviser, Leisha Johnston, is here to help.

Leisha can help you navigate the best policies and give you practical tips on protecting your unoccupied property throughout the winter months.

Book a free consultation with Leisha by emailing or calling 01282 452255.

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The Guide to Risk Resilience During COVID-19

We’ve put together a handy guide to help give you some clarity during this uncertain time. Click the link below to access the guide as a free download and get in touch today to speak to one of our friendly advisors.

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