How to keep your property safe over the Christmas holidays

Make sure no-one else but Santa visits your empty property this Christmas…

You’ve been slogging away, you’re on what you’ve been telling yourself is the home straight (although it feels never ending), right up to your favourite fun-filled holiday of the year, Christmas! The days have been long and the nights cold and all you’ve thought about is making a break for it as soon as work is over to celebrate the festive times back home with friends and family in front of a warm fireplace.

In amongst all of this, however, you and your roommates have probably not even thought about what precautions should be taken to protect your empty property over the Christmas period. However, given that statistically this is burglars’ busiest time of year, here’s a 360° (around the Christmas tree) run-down of some precautionary measures every flat sharing tenant should take this Christmas, to make sure you and your roommates can enjoy the festive cheer with peace of mind.

Take all of the elements into consideration – literally!

Water – First up is a true Christmas and winter classic: avoiding frozen pipes during the winter months. One way around this can be to leave the heating on, but in the end this is generally a very expensive way to go about things.  It is better instead to turn the water off during the period in which the property will be vacant. It is not a great inconvenience, and the inconvenience would certainly be all the greater if your pipes do indeed freeze over. The average claim for households, on the occasion of burst pipes around the home is, on average, £15,000, which is not exactly something you had factored into dealing with in your new year’s resolutions.

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Fire – Another dilemma that also arises when the time comes for you and all your flatmates to head homewards (aside from which of your flatmates gets to eat the advent calendar chocolates in the kitchen), is whether or not to keep some of the Christmas lights on whilst your shared residency is vacated. Aside from the obvious economic considerations there’s the dilemma of how to show people on the outside whether or not anyone’s home (even if they aren’t). Similarly, you don’t want the Christmas lights catching on fire while you’re away because then if the house burns down your neighbours certainly will wonder whether you’re home or not. In reality, statistics show that the chances of fire for this reason are fairly low (most Christmas tree lights come fitted with safety fuses in the plugs). The fire risk and associated costs would not suggest it wise to leave a whole lot of Christmas lights on whilst you and your roommates are away, but leaving on one or two lights can certainly do no harm.

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Earth – Another simple precaution which doesn’t cost the earth (sorry – unavoidable pun!) is for the last roommate out to check all windows and doors are securely locked throughout the property, even smaller side windows and the like which can often be easy to forget in larger shared properties. Equally, be sure to clear any visible sign of packaging from expensive gifts which may have been received leading up to the Christmas period in plain view of your property. All these tips will make sure your house’s safety is rock solid!

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Wind – Whilst there may be a draught swirling around your empty property, not everyone will be disappearing for the holiday period. One very simple and easy tip, providing you have a good relationship with your neighbours, is to let them know when you’ll be away for the break and ask them to keep an eye out. If you’re not in the privileged position of having someone you can trust to do this nearby (and even if you are) it is not only good manners, but in everyone’s best interests, if you inform your landlord when the property will be vacant over the Christmas period (especially if they are local to the property).

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When all is said and done and all these measures correctly taken care of you can sit back, put your feet up in front of the fire and stuff yourself with the Christmas leftovers, rest assured that no unexpected visitors turn up at your vacant shared flat this Christmas. Just don’t forget to leave out a mince pie and a carrot for Rudolf of course!

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