What should landlords do about empty properties over Christmas?
Sat 27 Nov 2021
Last Christmas, many people were prevented from leaving their home and visiting family due to the winter Covid-19 restrictions – however this year, it seems that many more will be able to see their loved ones.
For landlords and letting agents, this could mean more properties are left empty during the festive period. But what steps can you take to ensure your property is as safe as houses come December?
Planning is key
The first step is to get in touch with your tenants and find out if they’re planning on going away during the festive season, and if so, how long for? However, there’s a difference between wanting to be aware of their plans and being intrusive – so ensure you toe the line.
If they plan to be away for more than a week, it might be best to arrange a viewing a couple of weeks before to see if there are any small but necessary repairs to carry out. Much better to nip these issues in the bud, rather than waking up to an emergency repair come Christmas morning.
How secure is the property?
Whilst the security of your property should always be front of mind, now is a great time to ensure that everything is as secure as it can be. Consumer savings giant MoneySuperMarket revealed that 74% of burglars come through the door, and 29% of those happen from forcing the lock.
So, when visiting the property, check its entry points – are doors and windows secure and have you checked the letterbox (if the property has one) for signs of tampering? Could you fit a double lock on the door to enhance security if you haven’t already done so?
It’s also important to remind your tenants of their responsibilities in securing the property when they leave for their Christmas break. It’s important that they close all windows and don’t leave any keys or valuables close to the letterbox, where they could be at risk of being stolen. If the property has a burglar alarm with a code, encourage your tenants to change this before their break.
Prepare for all weathers
It’s important that, come rain or shine, your property is ready to face the elements. Check the drains and gutters at the property for debris or leaf build-up as this can cause leaks or damages. Don’t miss the roof either – loose or missing shingles can lead to leakages with rain or melting snow, and flat roofs can be prone to leaks after heavy rain.
It’s also worth asking your tenants to set the heating to come on at least once a day for a short period to warm the house and prevent pipes from freezing over.
Make sure the property appears ‘busy’
Nothing screams ‘vacant property’ more than a house with post piled high to the sky and a neglected garden. To avoid your property becoming a target, make it look lived in.
See if your tenants could ask a neighbour to collect any post and water the plants, or set a few lights on timer switches. It could also be a nice touch to offer to pay for someone to go and sweep the leaves from the garden or mow the front lawn as a festive treat?
If you’re looking for advice on how best to take care of your rental property – not just at Christmas but all year round – then get in touch with Letting Solutions, West Lothian’s first dedicated lettings agency.
We are continuing to operate throughout the pandemic. You can find out more about our current hours of service and our current ways of working here.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us, even if you are not a current client. You can ring us on 01506 496006 where our team are waiting to help. Or you can email us at: email@example.com.