Best Practice for Leaving Your Holiday Home in Good Shape

Holiday home lockdown prep

See our property preparation checklist to help keep your holiday home in shape should you for any reason not be able to visit it for a lengthy period of time.

As we get used to the ‘new normal’, it’s a good idea to think about the ever-changing landscape that COVID-19 has presented. With local lockdowns seen in the past and which saw restrictions in travel distances, it’s always better to be prepared in case circumstances change, sometimes with very little notice. Although you might already have a good routine when leaving your property, if you’re regularly visiting it now, have you considered what happens if you can’t? 

We hope that you and your property locations remain unaffected, but it is always best to be prepared or have a back-up plan. So, when leaving it, we’ve put together some considerations to help keep your property safe if you’re away longer than expected.

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Property preparation checklist


  • If you’ve prepared the property to be shut up for a while, it’s still useful to have someone locally who can access the property if required. You may already have a designated person for your inspections out of season but if not, is there a trusted neighbour or friend who can act as a key holder for you?
  • For security, it’s a good idea to put away or remove from sightlines any valuables.
  • Put any garden furniture or accessories that need storing undercover away e.g. in a shed.
  • Your insurance policy may stipulate that during winter months, usually between November and April, if the property is unoccupied it must be maintained at a minimum temperature or prepared accordingly to avoid plumbing freezing. It is important you check your policy wording to confirm these requirements. If you do plan to leave the boiler running, you should set the thermostat to the minimum temperature requirement.
  • If your boiler is not mains powered e.g. oil tank, or you don’t plan on leaving the heating on, then turn off your water at the mains and drain down any plumbed systems. This should be relatively easy, quick to do and will give you peace of mind.
  • Switch-off and unplug any unnecessary electrical equipment.
  • Don’t leave any perishable foods behind, and if you’re turning off power to your fridge and/or freezer, be sure to defrost your freezer first and leave the doors ajar to stop them smelling or even mould growth.
  • Empty the bins and place in an outside refuse bin, ready for collection.
  • Have a back-up plan. Nothing compares to planning ahead, but should you be unable to return, have a key holder who is willing and confident to carryout basic preparations, such as draining plumbed systems, turning off and unplugging unnecessary electrical equipment, and knows how/where to access stopcocks etc.
  • Lastly, this is not an exhaustive list of checks, and you should already be familiar with your insurance policy requirements for how your property should be left, such as locked windows, appropriate door locks and alarm systems. Please refer to your policy booklet for full details.

For more tips and tricks, see our guide on How to Keep Your Holiday Home Safe and Secure.

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Any outstanding maintenance?

Now is also the time to arrange to get this done. Remember, your insurance doesn’t cover damage or loss due to wear and tear or poor maintenance, so leaving that ‘small’ gutter leak or damaged door seal could get very expensive.

Additionally, if you have any upcoming professional inspections, such as electrical that are due under the requirements of your insurance policy, it’s better to plan and book these now too. This is where having a key holder could also come in handy to provide access.

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Holiday home insurance from Towergate

For more information, visit our holiday home insurance webpage or call one of our specialist advisers on 0344 892 1750.

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About the author

James Cooper is a respected industry leader with around 10 years' experience in the home and property insurance sector. He works across a broad range of insurance product and policy development and delivery, including product development; customer sales and marketing; and P&L accountability.