Everyone likes a holiday, whether it’s a vacation in the Bahamas or a staycation in the capital. And if you’ve got a buy-to-let property, there’s every chance that the people renting it will find themselves going on a holiday at some stage.
If it’s a long tenancy, they will probably go on a fair few. Super-fun, Instagrammable holidays are all well and good, but it also means the property will be empty while your renters are living their best life in a far-flung destination.
If they’re away on a much-needed break, what happens to your rental property? In this guide, we’re bringing you the lowdown on everything there is to know about protecting your rental property while the renters are on holiday.
Check the lease
Renters don’t need to tell you if they’re going on holiday; they’re free to live their lives in your property, coming and going as they please. However, some tenancies state that a property can’t be empty for a sustained period (some are as short as 30 days; others can be three months).
Therefore, the renter needs to inform you if they’re planning a prolonged getaway. Otherwise, they will be in breach of the rental agreement. The majority of assured tenancy shorthold (ASTs) have a clause about properties being empty for lengthy periods, and you’re within your rights to include something similar in your contract. However, make sure it’s realistic. You shouldn't try and dictate when and for how long a renter goes away.
Sound the alarm
Does your rental property have an alarm? If it doesn’t, then it’s something that you might want to look into for your next tenancy. If you do, ensure that your renters know how to use it before they head away for their hols.
Ask them for the security code too, just in case it goes off accidentally. After all, the last thing you want is for an alarm to go off falsely and keep the neighbours awake. If you don’t want to install a full alarm system, explore potential window security alarms. These are visible from the outside and should help deter any potential burglars.
The illusion of occupation
Thieves will take a chance if they believe that somewhere is empty, which means that your renter should make it look like the property is occupied while they’re away. They can do this by setting internal timers for lights or by using a television simulator light.
It’s also worth asking your tenant to ask the neighbour if they can check for things like post hanging halfway out of the letterbox. That way, it won’t be clear to potential burglars that the property is sitting unoccupied.
Friends, everybody needs them
It’s all about the community, and your renter’s neighbours can help by keeping an eye on the home while it’s empty. This is especially helpful if you don’t live near your rental property, as a good neighbour can do things like keep an eye on the post, move bins on bin-collection day and generally watch over the home.
If they have a key (with the consent of your renter, of course), they can even pop in and check that everything is in order. Doing so will be helpful if your renter is taking a longer holiday and the property is left empty for more than a week.
Lock it up
It goes without saying that renters should ensure everything is locked before they set off on their trip, from the doors to the windows. Yet, it’s worth reminding them about locks, as it’s easy enough to forget and could make any burglaries job that much easier.
As the owner of the property and the landlord, you’re responsible for making sure that all locks are fit for purpose and that your renter has a copy of the keys. Before the tenancy begins, you (or the property manager) should go around the home and show them how the locks work.
As a landlord, it is your responsibility to make sure all locks are fit for purpose, that your tenant has a copy of the keys, and they know how to use them to lock doors and windows.
Insurance all round
Lastly, you should check that the relevant insurance is in place on the property. For landlords, this means having buildings insurance and covering anything that you provide in the property. For renters, they should get contents insurance so that their belongings are safeguarded against theft.
If the property is going to be empty for a sustained period of time, you should let the insurance company know. Otherwise it could affect your claims and policy.
We’re all going on a summer holiday
When you’re renting out your property, you want good renters to move in. And when those renters go on holiday, it’s essential for all parties that the property is safe from being targeted by burglars. By doing things like setting up alarms and asking neighbours to keep watch, renters can enjoy their vacation, and you can relax knowing that your investment is well secured.