If you're going away for the holidays this year, it's important to make sure your property will be safe while you're gone. This means avoiding any maintenance mishaps, and not leaving signals to potential burglars that no one's home.
Unfortunately, burglary rates rise almost 20% over the festive season, according to nimblefins.co.uk. Burglars know that homes will be empty, and the shorter daylight hours give them more cover to get the job done. We all enjoyed the antics of Harry and Marv in Home Alone, but most of us don't have a Kevin McCallister to set booby traps and defend our property from invasion.
Instead, these are our 6 tips for what to do before your kicking off your holiday away. You might be aware of many of them already, but they're important enough that they're worth repeating. The last thing you want at the end of a holiday is to return to no hot water, a leak, or a burgled home!
Post pile upAvoid signs that your property is empty. If you have a neighbour that you trust, ask them to collect your post while you're away.
Beware the binsYou'll probably do a clearout before you go away - especially of the fridge. If your bin day falls around the time you leave, ask a neighbour if they can spare some space in theirs. You could also ask someone to bring your bins in for you after collection. Avoid having bins sitting out for days - letting people know that no one's home.
Trick of the lightIf you can, have lights on timers switching on at different times and in different rooms to mimic your normal activity. Otherwise, ask a trusted neighbour or friend to go in and turn lights on. You want it to appear that there's movement around your home.
Heat things upTo avoid pipes freezing, set your heating to come on at a low setting twice a day in the morning and evening. A few years ago, after the holiday break during a very cold winter (similar to this one), our maintenance team was flat out with appointments to defreeze pipes and attend to shut down boilers.
Unplug and unwindBefore leaving, turn off and unplug all unnecessary appliances. You don't want to be paying electricity for things you don't need!
Emergency planningIf you're a landlord and managing your property yourself, it's not ideal to get an emergency call while you're enjoying a family game of charades. Have a plan in place if there is a boiler breakdown, roof leak, or other emergency while you’re away. In this cold weather, your residents will demand quick repair times.
Or better yet, why not try out Paramount management? Day or night, Christmas or New Year's - we're here to jump into action on your behalf.
For added peace of mind while you're away, we also recommend smart home systems like those from Nest (disclaimer - we're not being sponsored to mention them), which enable you to keep an eye on things and control settings through your smartphone.