Whether your home is seasonally unoccupied, your tenant recently left, or your property is vacant due to unforeseen circumstances, check out these tips on how to protect your vacant property from damage.
Residential Property Owners:
- Keep wind and water out – make sure that tree branches are cut back 5 to 6 feet from roof and wall surfaces. Check for any signs of roof and have any leaks fixed immediately. If the home is hurricane or storm prone, make sure that all the doors and windows are protected from damage. Be sure to secure any outdoor furniture, fences, and other objects that could become damaged from high wind and rain.
- Shut off the water and gas – water heaters, pipes, and appliances can leak or bust, which can cause major damage in a home that is left unattended. The best protection is to have the water shut off. When the water is off, be sure to also shut off the power or gas to the water heater (or the gas company can do this for you).
- Keep it cool – thermostats in homes should be set no higher than 85 degrees to prevent high temperatures and humidity from damaging furniture or other contents.
IMPORTANT TIP: If your house has a fire protection sprinkler system, it will be deactivated if you shut off the water. Consequently, in that case you should leave the water on to the house and concentrate on turning off water to appliances, such as automatic ice maker or a washing machine. You may also want to turn off water to toilets to prevent water use from any toilets that may start running.
Commercial Property Owners:
- Advise local fire and police departments that your building is unoccupied, and provide them with keys and/or contact information in the event of an emergency.
- Advise your premises alarm company of the vacancy, create new security codes, and update contact information.
- Install exterior and interior motion or timed lighting, to ward off potential animal infestation and criminal activity, and to give the appearance of occupancy.
- Change locks and/or install new tapered deadbolts if copies of exiting lock keys were given to prior tenants or vendors.
- Remove hazardous materials from the property, such as pollutants, chemicals or
- combustible materials to prevent explosion, leaks, seepage or contamination.
- Change existing alarm codes.
And as always, inform your insurance agent that your property is vacant! They will be able to advise you on the best insurance protection.
Let us share with you a TRUE story of one of our clients:
Our insured left for an extended vacation out of the country. He did not shut off his water or appliances. The water line to his refrigerator failed, and flooded the house for almost 2 weeks before his sister (who was watching the home) came to check on the home. The water filled halfway to the ceiling damaging all his furniture, flooring, walls, and cabinets. So far the claim has paid out $58,064.38 and more expenses are still pending. What an unfortunate way to be welcomed home from your European vacation!
Don’t let this happen to you!