How to keep your home safe while away

Keeping the outside of your unoccupied property safe

Working abroad? Have a second home or holiday home? If there’s a time during the year where your property is left unoccupied for a period of time, it’s a good idea to ask a family member, friend or neighbour to check on things and make sure everything’s okay. We've put together a list of different areas to check to keep the home safe and sound while you’re away.

The exterior of the house is the most visible area, anyone and everyone will notice signs you’re not around. Make sure you’re not drawing attention to the fact your home is unoccupied:

  • Put bins out to be emptied on bin day and store them away from the home so they can't be used to climb and access windows
  • Keep outside plants and lawns trim
  • Ask neighbours to keep an eye out for 'roof contractors' if you don't have work scheduled. Metal on your roof could be an attractive prize for wily thieves
  • Ensure any parcels or letters are not left out, be especially careful to check nothing is left poking out the letter box for days on end
  • Clear up any litter accumulating in the garden
  • Check external pipes to make sure nothing’s freezing (best if you can turn off the water before you leave so it can't expand in the pipes and cause damage)
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Curtains and lights at your unoccupied home

There’s debate as to what the best course of action is with curtains. If you leave them drawn all day, it looks like you’re not there and equally if you leave them open at night you have the same problem. Our advice would be:

  • Turn a hall or landing light on and maybe switch up which one each time you visit
  • Ensure net curtains and such are drawn so people can’t peer through windows
  • Don’t leave all the curtains pulled to all day

It also could be worth considering having lights on a timer. You can read more about technologies which protect your home in our infographic on simplifying property management.

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Post at your unoccupied property

It’s a good idea to redirect post if you are going to be away from your property for a long while.

  • Make sure post doesn't pile up visibly, move it from by the door and put it somewhere out of sight
  • You’ll want to be notified if anything important comes through so get you chosen person to let you know if anything interesting looking shows up

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Interior of your unoccupied home

Before you leave, try to tuck any valuables out of site so thieves can’t spot anything that might tempt them. Then ask your chosen person to:

  • Do a quick check of the whole house each visit to make sure there are no issues which need addressing i.e. a leaky pipe causing damage to flooring
  • Keep an eye out for anything strange and get them to let you know
  • Water the plants

We’d also recommend letting the local police know you’re away; give them a contact number to reach you on just in case of emergency and let them know who will be keeping an eye on the house so they don’t mistake them for thieves. Equally, if you have a family member or friend looking after the house, let your neighbours know so they don’t think it’s a burglar and call the police on them.

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About the author

James Cooper is a respected industry leader with over 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.

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Unoccupied home insurance from Towergate

It is also very important you have the right insurance for your unoccupied home. For more information, visit our dedicated unoccupied property insurance page or call us on 0344 892 1750 to speak to a specialist adviser.