How much does your vacant property actually cost you?
Looking after an unoccupied property is a commitment that requires time and investment. But how much does your vacant house actually cost you? Revealing the hidden costs of taking care of an empty home, we explore vacant property management tips, how to go about insuring an empty house, and the steps to take if your vacant property is becoming a burden.
Vacant property management checklist
Whether you’re taking care of property in probate or looking after a holiday home, it’s important to keep on top of the safety and security of a vacant house. Whether you live close by or you’re taking care from a distance, we’ve outlined our vacant property management tips.
Council tax for your vacant property
Even if a property isn’t your main residence, you’re usually still obliged to pay council tax. However, the system is relatively flexible, and you may be eligible for a discount. For instance, holiday homes are often given a 50% council tax cut, but this isn’t a steadfast ruling and varies between councils. Similarly, you can apply to your council for a tax exemption for up to six months if you’re responsible for a property in probate.
Importantly, your council tax can shoot up to twice as much if your vacant property hasn’t been a residency for over two years. However, this doesn’t apply if you’re hospitalised or in long term care.
Make sure your vacant property is secure
Your home’s security should be of utmost importance, particularly if it’s vacant and you’re not a deterring presence. At the very least, you should prioritise the installation of strong and reliable locks on all doors and windows to protect your vacant property against burglars. Similarly, consider cutting a second key to give to a neighbour, in case of emergency. The cost of acquiring a spare key is negligible and well worth the peace of mind.
Additionally, you can take extra precautions to improve the security of your vacant property, including installing discreet CCTV cameras and a sensitive alarm system. CCTV installation will cost you something in the region of £600, with each further camera costing roughly another £120, while a burglar alarm that notifies you of intrusion with a text or call can set you back between £175-350.
Try to conduct regular checks of your vacant house
While it’s important to install the relevant security measures, you should also make every effort to conduct regular in-person checks for damage caused by factors other than a break in.
A particular concern you should take note of is the danger of damp. Damp is the result of excess moisture in your home, and can be truly detrimental if left untreated. In fact, rectifying damp can cost you in the region of £70 per square metre of wall, which can add up if it’s been a while since your last inspection. One key step to avoiding damp is to ensure your vacant property is properly ventilated.
Externally, inclement weather can damage walls, displace roof tiles, and disrupt drainage, which, if left untreated, can cause leaks inside. So, it’s important to address any exterior concerns as they arise, to limit the cost of repairs.
Insuring an empty house
Regular home insurance usually covers you for unoccupancy of up to 30 days, such as when you go on holiday or visit family. However, once you surpass this period, your insurance becomes invalid, and you won’t be protected. In this instance, you’d, instead, need unoccupied home insurance.
While it’s not a legal requirement to take out vacant property insurance, it’s strongly advised. Vacant property insurance covers:
- Theft or attempted theft as a result of forced entry. This is voided if there’s no evidence of a forced break in.
- Vandalism or destruction of property.
- Public liability insurance.
- Weather-related damage, including protection against flooding.
- Legal expenses if you have to remove squatters.
Vacant property insurance can vary in cost, depending on the value, location, and security of your vacant property. However, the average cost of insuring an empty house for up to 45 days comes to around £150.
What to do with your vacant property?
Taking care of a vacant property can be costly, and often a financial burden. If you find yourself with an empty home, you could consider selling or renting.
Selling your vacant property
If you’re struggling to maintain your vacant house, it might be time to think about selling. You can either go through an estate agent or auction house, and handle all the associated costs, or receive a free cash offer of up to 85% of market value immediately, from a property purchasing company, such as Good Move. This is especially useful if you’re hoping to sell your house quickly.
Renting out your vacant house
If you’re handling a vacant property that you plan on making the most of in the future, it might be fruitful to rent it out in the short-medium term. You could either rent your vacant house full time, or as a holiday let. However, if you choose to go down either route, be sure to read up on the cost of renting, such as the tax implications and increased council tax. Additionally, whether renting to a lodger, a family, or a group of students, you should take note of landlord best practices.
A vacant property can quickly become a heavy expense if you’re not careful, so it’s important that you keep on top of how much you’re actually spending. For even more expert property advice, explore the latest on our blog.