There may be times when your rental property remains unoccupied, and this could be for any number of reasons.
You might be searching for suitable tenants, or you may even be renovating your property. Any period when your property is not occupied means you are not receiving rent, and this can be frustrating.
But there are other issues that you will need to consider, including the situation with your property insurance, and the security of your property.
Issues with Home Insurance
Every insurance policy is different, so this information is general in nature and you will have to check with your own insurer for the specifics of your policy.
However, as a general rule, it is fairly common for insurers to define a property as unoccupied when no one is living there for a certain period of time. This may be 30 days, but it could be a longer or shorter period of time depending on the policy.
Once an insurer defines a property as unoccupied, this can affect the claims that you make. The reason is that a property that is unoccupied is seen as a greater risk for the insurer.
For example, if no one is living in the property, it may take longer to spot problems, leading to more severe damage, such as in the case of a burst pipe. The property may also be more inviting to thieves, posing a greater risk of theft.
There are certain policies that specifically cover unoccupied properties, so this is something you may want to look into. But in any case, check over the details of your policy and speak to your insurance provider to make sure you understand when your property is defined as unoccupied and what this means for you in the case that you have to make a claim.
Looking After Your Unoccupied Property
Whatever your insurance situation, you will want to look after your property if it is unoccupied to reduce the risk of theft and damage.
First of all, ensure that you take security seriously. Here are some steps you can take:
- Fit strong locks to the doors and windows
- Invest in a house alarm
- Install a security light at the front and back of the garden
- Consider setting up a lamp on a timer to turn on at night
- Make the property look lived-in by mowing the lawn regularly during the summer
- Clear away any post that has built up
As well as the security of your property, take steps to reduce the chances of damage occurring. Check your property regularly for problem signs, or arrange for someone else to check it if you cannot do so yourself. You may also want to turn off the water and gas supplies (for the gas, you will want to contact a gas technician to do this).
Protect Your Property
Your property is too important to risk, so make sure you check over the details of your insurance policy so you know what is covered and how your claims may be affected. Then if it does become unoccupied for whatever reason, make sure you look after it properly to reduce the risk of theft or damage.