The Christmas holidays are nearly here, which means thousands of students will be heading home later this month. But that can cause quite a headache for landlords, as many houses will be left vacant for a number of weeks. So what can you do to safeguard your property this festive season? Read on to discover Pick My Pad’s advice.
Keeping Burglars Out
Perhaps the biggest problem landlords face during any vacant period is that of the increasing chance of burglaries. This is especially the case in student houses, because it is easier for thieves to guess when properties will be empty. But the problem is exacerbated during winter, when the clocks have gone back and burglars can operate under the cover of darkness. The best way to protect your property during this period is to make the house look occupied. You can do this inexpensively by purchasing timers for lights that plug into the mains. Lights with built-in timers are also available. Depending on how sophisticated you want the system to be, you might have the lights turn on in a pattern which reflects that of ordinary use throughout the evening. If you haven’t already installed them, it would also be a good idea to fit some motion detecting lights outside the property too, especially near doors and windows.
Before they leave, you should also advise your tenants not to leave their valuables and possessions in view and to ensure that they lock all of the property’s windows and doors. If you have installed a burglar alarm, make sure your tenants know the code and encourage them to make use of the alarm when they leave the property.
Students love a string of fairy lights and Christmas gives them a great opportunity to get creative with their displays. Remind them to buy high quality lights from a reputable source which are appropriate for their location – some lights are only suitable for indoor use. Advise your tenants not to overload plug sockets when they put up their lights, too. When it comes to leaving their property for the holidays, they may forget to unplug their decorations. This is of course a major fire risk, so you need to make sure you remind them to switch off any electrical equipment that doesn’t need to be on throughout the property.
Of course, Christmas lights are not the only source of fire in the home. With no one around to discover blazes in a vacant property, the results can be catastrophic. But you can reduce the chance of a fire breaking out, just by following your duties as a landlord. You are legally required to fit smoke and fire detectors throughout your property and to check them regularly. Further, you are expected to to carry out gas safety checks and organise for a registered electrician to carry out PAT Testing, to ensure that all the electrical appliances in the property are functioning correctly.
You may also consider switching to LED bulbs. They produce more light, but less heat than traditional bulbs. Not only will you save money on your electricity bills, but the chance of them overheating and causing a fire if they’re accidentally left on over the holidays is also massively reduced.
For more information about getting your property ready for winter, read our blog post. If you have any other questions about letting an investment property in Walkden, get in touch with the team at Pick My Pad.