Unoccupied property – essential property maintenance to prepare for winter

Regular maintenance of your unoccupied property is an essential part of keeping your house in order, for the wellbeing of your vacant property and to comply with the terms of your unoccupied property insurance policy. Failure to carry out some pre-winter checks on your vacant house could lead to disaster, with your insurance company refusing to pay for damage if the empty building was not adequately maintained.

As difficult as it sounds, whilst sunbathing in the garden, cast your mind back to last winter with the storms, floods and icy cold weather and consider if there are any jobs that need attention before this coming winter. Here are a few suggestions to help to keep your empty property in sound condition over the winter months.

Regular inspections

Maintenance on an unoccupied home starts with a regular inspection routine to help identify any faults with your empty property. Your unoccupied house insurer will likely apply an inspection condition on your policy meaning that you will have to inspect the property every 7, 10 or 30 days, depending on the insurer you have a policy with. But whatever the policy requirement, it is good practice to visit as often as possible and to document your attendance each time.

Heating system

It is time to get your oil or gas boiler serviced now before the winter sets in and the rush for heating engineers starts. Check your insurance policy as your insurers will likely have a condition that either the water system is turned off at the mains and completely drained down or you keep the heating on constantly at a specified temperature.

Rainwater goods

Gutters and drainpipes need to be kept clear of debris, moss and leaves that build up throughout the year, particularly in the autumn. Leaves and rubbish blown in the wind can quickly fill gutters and block downpipes. When it rains the water is not able to drain away and will overflow, often back onto the fabric of the house where is causes damp to penetrate. If it can find a way into your property – it generally will!


Carry out a check of your roof. Are there any cracked or missing slates or tiles? Check to see if anything has slipped, become dislodged or if any of the cement holding the ridge tiles in place has deteriorated. It is essential to ensure the roof is in good condition. If you call in a roofer or builder in the winter months then you have the added problem of the weather to contend with and the disinclination of the builder who would much rather spend his time decorating inside.

Cracks in masonry

Cracks to the walls or rendering caused by weathering can easily turn into a much larger job than necessary if you leave it too late. From personal experience, the writer of this article ignored the deteriorating rendering above front and rear bay windows for several years – until it started to fall off in large chunks. Something that could have been repaired in a few hours necessitated the whole rendering of the bay to be removed and replaced. You cannot carry out this work in the winter due to the cold weather affecting the cement so have it done when it is warmer and you can paint it before the bad weather sets in.

Paths, steps and driveway

It is always worth checking paths, steps and driveways for growth of moss and green slime that appears at certain times of the year. Continual damp weather make steps to basements of lower ground floor flats are particularly susceptible to this. We have experience of dealing with a claim from a visitor to a basement flat when the claimant descended steps from the road to the property and slipped on moss / algal growth that was left to grow on them, the person slipped causing a serious back injury – so beware of green steps!

Tidy the grounds

As the evenings draw in, obviously empty buildings can attract not only thieves, but youngsters seeking adventure. They might not mean any harm, exploring an empty building with ‘no owner’, but that’s not much comfort when it has burned down. Tidying the grounds and cutting the lawn will make the property look cared for, occupied and will reduce the risk of becoming a secret hideout for youths.

Be a good neighbour

A quick visit to one or two of your neighbours to ensure they have your up to date contact details can pay dividends later. Arrive armed with flowers, a bottle of wine and an approachable attitude that tells them you intend to keep the property neat and tidy so they won’t have an eyesore of a property next door. In return, they should be happy to keep an eye on your empty building and contact you if they see anything of concern.

Back To News

This entry was posted in Unoccupied Property News and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Call Bickers Insurance today, the specialists in Property Insurance for friendly, helpful assistance
with unoccupied property, UK holiday home insurance, working abroad or in a care home:
Get a Quote NOW: 01903 791340