Most of the time, you’d love it if your rental property passed from the hands of one capable tenant into the hands of another.

Most of us aren’t looking to leave our property vacant for long periods of time.

All the same, sometimes it’s necessary. Maybe you’re going on an especially long vacation and don’t have time to prepare the property to rent again. Maybe you’re considering selling it. Maybe some big repairs or renovations need to be made before its rentable again.

Whatever the case may be, there comes a time in almost every landlord’s life when he or she must leave the property vacant for an extended amount of time.

And while it may be a relief to not have to worry about the water bill or tenants leaving stains on the carpet, vacant property comes with its own challenges. It’s a prime target for vandalism and robbery.

By taking a few simple steps, however; you can protect your property until there’s someone living in it again.

Turn Off The Water

If it’s cold out, this is especially important, because water can freeze in the pipes, but even during the summer small leaks can cause disasters in a vacant house.

Turn Up/Down The Thermostat

In the summer, turn the thermostat up to about 85 degrees. In the winter, turn the heat down to about 65. This will protect you from outrageous heating and cooling bills, though you will need to allow time for the house to warm up or cool down before new tenants move in.

Put Lights On Timers

A consistently dark house is like a welcome banner to burglars and vandals. Put a few lights in the house on random timers so that they’ll go on and off at various times during the day. It’s tempting to set them at the same times every day, but if anyone is watching your house this will quickly become obvious. Go for the random route.

Take Care Of the Fridge

Your two options here are to either unplug the fridge and leave the door open, which is more obvious to would-be robbers, or to leave it running, which is an inefficient use of energy. One way to solve this problem is to keep water bottles inside the empty refrigerator, because they’ll never go bad but they’ll allow the fridge to run more efficiently.

Hire Lawn Care

A rough-and-tumble lawn is another green flag for thieves. If you’re in the area, go over regularly to mow the lawn and trim the bushes. If you’re not going to be around, hire a lawn care service to do this for you. It may cost a bit of extra cash, but it will save your property from being broken into or ransacked.

Make Sure Mail And Newspapers Aren’t Being Delivered

Make sure that the post office and all other delivery services know your tenants have moved. Then put a vacation hold on anything else that’s normally delivered to the house, such as newspapers.

Check For Leaks and Batteries

Feel under faucets and handles to see if there’s any moisture. Fix any leaks you find immediately to keep from returning to a swimming pool in the upstairs bathroom. It’s also a good idea to check the batteries in the smoke alarms. Fire is another danger to vacant homes.

Vacant home insurance can get quite expensive, often requiring you to buy a whole nother policy. Some insurance agencies, however, don’t consider the house vacant as long as a house sitter is living there or visiting quite regularly. This is a tactic you could try to keep from paying ridiculous insurance costs.

Stay safe, and I hope you fill your property as soon as possible!

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