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Keeping your empty property safe

See Factsheet 3: Keeping your house safe from crime and damage while itís unoccupied

Having an empty property is often a worry for owners.  Keeping it safe and in good condition is essential and the best way to limit the risk of burglary, vandalism or even squatters is to make sure your property looks cared for and lived in. Here are some suggestions:

Make the property look lived in

  • Fit a timer switch so that the internal lights operate during the hours of darkness
  • Keep the garden and exterior of the property tidy and in a good state of repair
  • Make sure all the post is pushed through the letter box and not left on display.
  • Leave curtains or blinds in place.
  • Make sure refuse bins are emptied and then stored in a safe place
  • If there is a trusted neighbour, ask them to open and close curtains
  • If the property is for sale or rent consider whether an advertising board is really necessary.
Install good security
  • Keep all doors and windows locked and secured
  • Depending on the location of the property consider external lighting
  • Ask trusted neighbours to contact the police in the event of an emergency
  • Check door locks and upgrade where necessary.
More general advice
  • If a house alarm is fitted make sure it is activated and key holder details are available
  • If the property has parking facilities invite neighbours to use them while the property is vacant
  • All property should be marked. See
  • A full and updated inventory should be taken and maintained
  • Cut back trees or shrubs to remove hidden areas where burglars might hide
  • Make regular visits to the property.
  • Donít let your property deteriorate. Properties can deteriorate when left empty and costs for Ďmaking goodí can be higher than a small outlay to sort out any problems. Ensure that the house gets heated for a period each day during the winter and prevent pipes from freezing.

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In Bristol, a total of 677 empty properties were brought back in to use in 2012/2013 - 169 above the target set by the local authority!
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