The best way to reduce the risks associated with empty homes is to make sure they are occupied. However, we understand that sometimes there is major renovation required to bring it up to a decent standard and therefore, the property is likely to remain empty for some time.
Here are some ways you can reduce the risk of criminal damage occurring to an empty home:
- Make it look occupied. Curtains, particularly nets, at the windows give the impression that the property is occupied. Even better is if you can put a hall light on a timer so it comes on in the evening and goes off again during the day.
- Switch off the utilities - particularly if it is likely to be some time before a home is reoccupied. The utility suppliers should be able to stop supplies reaching the property, but remember to include all utilities.
- Keep the exterior of the property well maintained. Clean the windows, clear guttering, deal with repairs quickly and keep it secure. You will be liable if poor maintenance of your property has an impact on the neighbouring houses.
- Keep the gardens tidy and clear of rubbish. Overgrown gardens seem to attract fly tipping and vermin, which the owner becomes responsible for.
- If you're in the process of renovating a house, make sure all building materials are hidden in the property and out of sight. Keeping the property fully secure should minimise the risk of unauthorised entry and anything of value removed, including copper piping from under floorboards, boilers and so on.
- Remove mail regularly which can pose an arson threat in empty homes.
We prefer to work with owners to encourage responsible home ownership. However, we do have legislation that we can use. Where owners don't respond to requests to improve the condition of their property, particularly when it is affecting others, we may undertake the work and charge the owner.
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