10th November 2022
All properties are vacant at times, from primary residences during day trips and vacations, through to void periods on rental properties and sometimes much longer stretches of little to no use of second homes.
For property owners, those longer vacant periods represent a risk that must be managed. A property left empty over the long term may be more susceptible to burglary and malicious damage, as well as natural damage due to damp or leaks.
Without taking steps to protect your property during periods of vacancy, you may also fail to comply with the terms and conditions of your insurance, leaving you without cover in the event of a broken pipe, arson attack or burglary.
For all of these reasons, many Black Brick clients choose to make use of our Vacant Care Service, which looks after your house while nobody is home, and crucially ensures you meet the minimum terms of your insurance – all without paying for a full-time housekeeper.
Keeping your property properly secured is essential to ensure you comply with your insurance cover T&Cs. Leaving a key with a neighbour cannot guarantee that they will always remember to lock doors and windows and activate burglar alarms on the way out.
Black Brick can inspect your property regularly for wear and tear, signs of damage such as water pipe leaks or electrical faults, and leave it fully locked up and secured afterwards in line with your insurance – including activating all the relevant zones of your burglar alarm.
This keeps out opportunistic thieves and reduces the risk of damage caused by animals, which can gain access via much smaller gaps such as an open upstairs window. It’s not just about peace of mind, but also about protecting your insurance pay-outs.
As mentioned above, when you give your spare key to Black Brick, you know you are entrusting it to someone reliable. This not only allows for regular inspections, but also emergency response and reactive maintenance work.
Our Vacant Care Service not only provides key-holding, but also a 24-hour alarm response. In case of emergency day or night, we can respond and access your property – and because we have the key, this can prevent damage due to emergency services breaking down the door.
We can also arrange for any work that is required outside of normal working hours, so that tradespeople can access the premises without any difficulty or delay.
All vacant properties should be inspected regularly to check for insurance compliance, identify any repairs that are required, and detect signs of damage due to leaks, electrical faults and other contained incidents.
Black Brick’s vacant care managers can thoroughly check your premises and will report back to you on any issues they identify, so you always know the condition of your property.
This also allows you to arrange any repair work if you wish, or you can allow us to take care of that for you, so you don’t need to worry about overseeing the work or finding a suitable local contractor.
When a required repair is identified, it’s important to get it fixed quickly. A small leak can cause significant water damage, especially if it’s a leaky roof, drainpipe or gutter during the winter months.
Black Brick offer a complete repair service, so you don’t need to be involved at all if you don’t want – we will ensure your property is kept in good condition.
We have an exclusive network of cost-effective contractors who we trust to carry out work to a high standard. We can coordinate all repair work on your behalf, with our vacant care managers overseeing the finish to the desired standard.
Uncollected mail is a red flag for vacant properties. Whether it’s envelopes visible and sticking out under your door, takeaway menus hanging out of the letterbox or an accumulation of all kinds of mail in your pigeonhole, this can make your property a target for opportunistic thieves.
Black Brick’s vacant care managers can act as your primary point of contact for porters and managing agents, going beyond a simple mail collection service to remove any letters and parcels that have arrived at your property.
We can then forward your mail to you, pay bills on your behalf (with your permission) and importantly, pay any service charges due on your property, so that you comply with ground rent and management fees at all times.
Cleanliness is an ongoing challenge in empty properties, which can suffer from surprising amounts of dust and dirt, damp and mould due to excess humidity, and risks like legionella due to poor ventilation and standing surface water.
All kinds of dirt can be harder to remove the longer they are left, which is why Black Brick’s Vacant Care Service includes regular cleaning – walking into your property should feel like arriving home, not walking into a damp, stale and stuffy old building.
We can even prepare the premises for your return. This includes simple steps like airing it out, stocking the fridge with essentials, putting out fresh flowers and making sure the heating is working and the thermostat is set.
A vacant property service is a great middle-ground option between leaving your spare key with a neighbour (which is probably not a good long-term solution in any case) and facing the expense of a full-time housekeeper.
Indeed, Black Brick’s Vacant Care Service goes beyond the scope of a housekeeper, from services like 24-hour alarm response to contractor coordination in the event of any necessary repair work.
This is ideal for property investors who prefer their second home to be empty and ready for use, rather than occupied by a long-term tenant; however, if you decide you’d like to generate income from your property, we can find a suitable tenant and manage the premises as a rental on your behalf.
For more information about the Black Brick Vacant Care Service or our rental property management services, contact us today.
We would be delighted to hear from you to discuss your own property requirements. For a non-obligatory consultation, please contact us.