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Top tips for landlords faced with empty properties

ARLA Propertymark has issued five top tips to landlords whose properties may be left empty by tenants on holiday. 

ARLA president Maxine Fothergill says: “It is fantastic to see travel restrictions finally opening up a little more on time for the summer holiday period, but it is crucial not to let anything slip when it comes to protecting your empty property if tenants are away. 

“Holiday periods are prime time for a surge in burglary and house fire risk, so it’s important to cover all bases while your tenants are having a well-deserved break.”

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Here are the association’s five tips.

1. Communication is key - Encourage landlords to request that tenants let them know if they are planning on going away for an extended period of time. While the frequent changes to travel rules due to the pandemic has meant people have been home for longer, some people may now take the opportunity to use their banked holiday and take longer trips. Knowing that any properties on your books may be empty for an extended period of time will at least mean you can anticipate any issues that may arise or plan, with the tenant, should anything need doing in advance.

2. Keep it locked - Burglars prefer quick wins, especially if they suspect a property is empty. Professional security locks and bolts are easy to access, especially when using a trusted installation company that can give you plenty of advice. An increasing number of households now use alarm systems that can be accessed and managed anywhere through your phone, so do your research and speak with both landlords and tenants to find the best security option to ensure the home is safe while they are away.

3. Alarm - Sometimes it’s the simplest steps that make the biggest difference, and something as simple as a broken alarm can be detrimental when a property is left empty. If the property is fitted with a burglar alarm, make sure that it’s in good working order and the tenant knows the correct protocol and that there’s a way for someone to contact the landlord should it go off in the tenants absence.

4. Insurance - Having the correct insurance cover is vital year-round and is particularly crucial when the property is vulnerable throughout the summer holiday period. Check that the landlord is familiar with their policy (including the small print!) to make sure they are fully covered for any potential issues as some insurance policies stipulate certain conditions that have to be met if a property is left empty for a long period of time.

5. Social Media - A sensitive issue but do make both landlords and tenants aware that if they have open social media profiles, they may wish to be careful posting about going away on holiday before they go so as not to make themselves an obvious target for burglars. Ideally tenants only want those they trust most to know that their property will be vacant.

6. Neighbourhood watch - If your landlords doesn’t live near their investment property, good neighbours can be a valuable asset. Asking them to put the dustbin out on the appropriate day, or if they have a key, to open and close the curtains on a daily basis can help to create the illusion that someone is home.

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