Empty properties can cause all sorts of issues for landlords, however if you know what you’re doing this needn’t be the case - here are seven great tips for looking after unoccupied landlord properties.
1. Use the Council Tax Exemption
As soon as the property is vacant, the landlord becomes responsible for the council tax. However, if the property remains empty and unfurnished for up to 6 months, the landlord is entitled to an exemption. Contact the local council tax office for information or to notify them that the property is empty.
2. Transfer Utilities to the Landlord’s Name
When the tenant vacates the property, the landlord becomes responsible for the utility bills. On the day when the tenant leaves the premises, take readings for gas, electricity, and water. Contact your utility service providers and put the account information in your name. Give each utility company the latest meter reading for the vacant property. Take a new meter reading when new tenants move into the property, to ensure you’re only billed for what you use.
3. Take the Opportunity to Fix What’s Broken
Even the best tenants, may leave behind some form of destruction when they vacate a property. Some landlords only fix the things that are visibly broken and wait until new tenants complain to fix anything else. It’s better to fix as much as you can while the property is empty.
If you wait until you have tenants then you’ll have to give the tenant notice and arrange a time that’s convenient for them. You’ll have to coordinate between the tenant and the labourers, to make sure the work is done quickly. If the property is empty, you can attend to the problem at your convenience. Additionally, a deep steam cleaner clean can also do wonders for a space like this and freshen things up no end.
4 Ensure All Appliances Are Off
Switch off all electrical and gas appliances, to reduce costs and for safety. Don’t just turn on the appliance at the switch. Unplug the unit and switch off all plug sockets. If the socket has a fuse light, make sure the light is off. If the light is on, then the socket may still drain power, even if no appliance is plugged in.
If the property has white goods, turn these appliances off. Then open the doors on the freezer, refrigerator and washing machine, in order to eliminate nasty odours that will accumulate if there is no ventilation.
5. Disable the Hot Water and Heating Timer
If your hot water heater or heating unit have a time, the previous tenant may have set the timer, or they may have used the existing settings. Regardless of how the timer is set, you should disable it, as soon as the tenant vacates the property. If you don’t disable the timer, you may find yourself paying for utilities that you are not using.
6. Don’t Leave the Heat Off In The Winter
If the property is going to be vacant for more than a week during the winter, you’ll want to occasionally allow the pipes to warm up by turning on the heat. If you don’t warm the pipes, they might freeze over and burst. The cost for heating the pipes regularly during the winter is much less than the price you’d have to pay to repair the pipes and clean up any water damage.
7. Make Sure to Empty the Bins
All of the bins should have been emptied by the previous tenants when they vacated. However, that does not always happen. Even if the tenants empty most of the bins, they may not have emptied the wheelie bins. Make sure to check every bin, in and around the property. They should be empty and clean, in order to avoid nasty odours, bacterial growth and pest and rodent infestations.