Insurers see vacant property as high risk but it is not always something that property owners think about. Maybe your property is between tenancies, being marketed for sale, used by families occasionally throughout the year or awaiting planning permission or works to start. Whatever the reason for an empty property, we want to draw your attention to some of the risks.
The Small Print that Risks Invalidating your Insurance
Despite our best intentions the truth is many of us do not read the small print of our insurance and if we did we would discover that there are stipulated limits as to how long a property can be left unoccupied without invalidating the cover.
In the aftermath of an insurable event like a flood, fire or break in – imagine the horror of realising that not only have you suffered the loss from the incident but discover that the insurance has been invalidated by non-compliance. Loss adjustors and free holders will always look in to this first.
Empty Property can Become an Invitation for Unwelcome Attention
Squatters, burglars, vandals and scammers will come to understand patterns of behaviour and notice when a property appears to always be the same from the outside. A stillness is detectable, mail piles up and it can begin to look cold, neglected and scruffy, and this is an open invitation.
Maintenance problems will also be exacerbated by being left unnoticed, burst pipes are clearly very dramatic and serious, but persistent minor leaks can over a period of time be just as hard to rectify and as damaging or an infestation of rodents. Regular checking at different times is strongly advised, select an agent that you can work with closely who will be your eyes and ears on the ground to help with whatever you need.
What should a vacant management service include?
Compliance: To satisfy insurance a professional vacant management service would ensure regular documented visits take place to comply with the policy. The agent may also need to operate a key holding and communication service with block managers and neighbours to fulfil all lease obligations.
Practical tasks: Regular property visits will identify and resolve any maintenance issues before they deteriorate further. Access can be provided to contractors and suppliers to undertake gas and electrical checks, gardening, alarm tests, etc. Plants can be watered, and groceries, laundry and dry cleaning can be obtained prior to a visit from a family member or new tenant.
Administration: Vacant management should also oversee the collection and forwarding of mail and payment of agreed outgoings. Regular statements of account should be produced to ensure that the flow of information is accurate and relevant to the property owner’s needs. Insurance claims
All vacant properties are different so make sure you find an agent that understands the risks and what your requirements are in terms of reporting and service levels.
Chambré have operated a vacant management service for over 15 years to their network of clients with homes and investments in London. Please contact us to discuss further or to request an e-brochure
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