There is a good chance that even for a short period your property could be vacant, even if you own a property in central London. Whether it’s in-between tenancies or due to planned renovations, you will need to keep a close eye on the property to ensure it remains in good condition. Here we cover the main points of what you should do when your rental property is vacant, so you can prepare a strong plan of action.

Get in touch with your insurer

One of the first things to do when your property is vacant for an extended period is to update your insurance provider as most landlord policies only provide cover for up to 30 days. This is an important point because your policy could be voided if you need to make a claim after this period and the insurance provider isn’t aware of your change in circumstances. The provider can advise on what you can do to keep your policy valid, such as turning off the gas or keeping the heating on a low setting to avoid the pipes freezing over.

Keep a close eye on security

Security will also be an issue that your provider will want you to address. In most cases they’ll want you to visit the property at least once a week to ensure it is secure and in good condition. During your visits, check that the windows and doors are properly locked and that there are no signs of forced entry.

Leaks can also happen when you least expect, which can lead to the formation of damp, so make sure this doesn’t become an issue – opening the window during your visit to encourage air circulation can help with this. And if you haven’t installed an alarm system, now is a good time to consider investing in one. It could also boost the value of the property overall, with some experts estimating it could add thousands of pounds to the overall value.

Take care of the bills

When the tenant has left the property, the landlord becomes responsible for paying the council tax. However, an empty and unfurnished property may be able to claim exemption from council tax for up to 6 months. This varies from council to council, so make enquiries about this as soon as you know the property is due to be empty. You will also be responsible for paying the utility bills and will need to transfer them back into your name, so take meter readings for water, gas and electricity and get in touch with the providers.

Maintain the property’s condition

The gaps in-between tenancies give you the ideal opportunity to carry out a deep clean using a professional company. This can be used to remove any traces of surface mould and to give a sparkling finish to the various fittings around the property, which can help make an even better impression for viewings. If there is a garden attached to the property, perhaps hire someone to mow the lawn, trim hedges, clear weeds and remove rubbish and look at carpet and sofa cleaning options. And if there are any outstanding repair or maintenance issues to address, now is the perfect time to resolve them.

Provide updates to the agent

If your agent is not fully managing the property on your behalf, it’s a good idea to get in touch with them again as soon as you know that the property is due to be vacant. They can help with marketing and finding a new tenant, or if the property is vacant for a while, can arrange to keep a close eye on it, giving you more peace of mind while you focus on other things.

Get more from your rental property

Hastings International work closely with landlords in London Bridge, Shad Thames, Rotherhithe and across central London, helping to manage and avoid costly void periods. Find out what we can do for you by getting in touch with your local team today.