There is a myriad of reasons that you may have a vacant property. Perhaps you just inherited it after a death; an investment property you are going to restore; or you’re looking for the right tenants. Whatever the reason, it’s important to realize that insuring and protecting a vacant property has its own unique challenges.
- Theft. Theft of copper pipes is a very common risk, especially in older homes that still have these gleaming temptations. Copper is easily sold to scrap yards for cash and vacant homes are an easy target. Make sure that your property is secure. Update the locks and make sure all windows and door windows are intact. Let the neighbors know that the house is unoccupied and to call you or the police if they notice any suspicious activity. Check on the property often to make sure the integrity of the locks, windows, and doors are intact (or consider boarding up the windows/doors). If the property is going to be occupied in the near future, consider keeping a few lights on timers throughout the house, close the blinds, post a “Beware of Dog” sign, offer to let your neighbor park an extra car in the driveway (this makes it look occupied and your neighbor will be more likely to notice anything amiss if they are over frequently).
- Frozen pipes. This is often tough to combat in a home that is occupied when Old Man Winter rears his ugly head, so in a home that is unoccupied, it’s a greater challenge. Make sure the pipes are properly insulated; turn off the water and purge the pipes during the winter (if the property is unoccupied you really don’t need running water.).
- Squatters and arson. This is a double whammy if someone decides to take up residence in your abandoned property you will be exposed to a few unpleasant possibilities. Destructive vandalism of the property; hazardous health conditions; and fire hazards. Yet another reason to keep a close eye on the property.
Given the increased risk with a vacant property, it is vital that you talk to your insurance agent about the proper policy, as a standard home/renters policy will not provide the proper coverage.