How to conduct a successful property viewing

Tenant is working abroad and flat is empty. Do I act?


I have heard from neighbours that my tenant has gone travelling, I believe they are off working as a rep during the summer holiday season. The rent is still being paid, do I have to do anything?


It's lucky that you have such a good relationship with the neighbours - this can really help you keep abreast with what is going on at your property. Whilst it sounds ke a great adventure for your tenant, sadly it’s very likely that you do need to take action.

If your tenant is continuing to pay the rent, it seems likely that they hope to return to the property. Certainly, if the neighbour is correct and they are only going to undertake a season as a holiday rep, it is likely that they will return suntanned and ready to move back in in around October. However, despite this, you do need to address the fact that despite the finances being covered, the property is still standing empty, and is therefore at risk.

The first person to make contact with is the tenant, to try and ascertain if they have a return date in mind. Try and work out if they have a date in mind for their return. If you can, gather an address from them where they are living whilst they are working abroad, and any additional contact details should there be an emergency.

The next (urgent) phone call should be to your insurance company. As a landlord you should have landlord insurance that covers you for the same sort of things that a standard home insurance policy would address but is specifically designed for the rental market. Many policies include a clause that say you are not covered if your property stands empty for any length of time (this time period varies from policy to policy). Check your policy and give your insurance company a call to notify them that your tenant is away at the property is empty.

Once you have notified our insurance policy, look into unoccupied home insurance. Your current insurer may be able to help you with this. This is a separate policy that offers protection from emergencies such as fire, floods, storms, theft/attempted theft, vandalism, damage caused by water or oil and damage from impact – in short, anything that isn’t likely to be caused by the occupant, how obviously isn’t there!

Lastly, implement a plan to ensure the property is still looked after whilst your tenant is absent. It is in your best interest to make sure that the property is well maintained, and the last thing you want is for squatters to notice that the property is standing empty – it’ll be your responsibility to get them out if they do!

Small regular changes, like asking the neighbours to make use of the wheelie bins (so it looks like there is someone producing rubbish from the property), setting some timers on lights to look like someone is active inside the property, and popping in on a regular basis to clear built up post from the door step will all help the property look ‘lived in’. Regular maintenance checks to ensure that there are no issues within the home are also vital, and will make it far simpler for your tenant when they move back in. Build a plan, and contact your tenant with the proposed schedule – if you can, ask for them to pop an email to you giving you the OK to carry these actions out, should there be any issues upon their return you’ve then got a document confirming that they were happy with you doing this.

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