Second Home Sense

If you have money to invest, then one of the more reliable options these days is to buy a holiday or second home. Whether it’s in the UK or another country, careful research of the housing market can ensure you make an investment that grows with the price of your house. What’s more, you’ve also got a ready-made holiday destination that will instantly start saving you money, as you won’t have to pay out to rent an apartment or stay in a hotel. You also have a potential revenue stream if you choose to rent it out.

Investing in a second property, however, comes with the usual risks of home-ownership, along with the additional problem of the likelihood of it being unoccupied for long periods. Many insurers offer policies specifically for holiday and second homes, so just like your main residence, it pays to make sure you are adequately covered both in terms of buildings and contents, whether your property is in the UK or abroad. Holiday home insurance, in particular, has certain criteria built in that tailor the policy for this particular purpose, so it’s worth discussing it thoroughly with your insurer.

The fact that you’re second home is likely to be unoccupied throws up a number of problems you won’t have with your first home, and it’s important to take steps to guard against them.

Tightening up security

Unoccupied properties can be vulnerable to burglars, squatters and vandalism, so aim to take the following steps…

  • Fit an alarm:  A sensible precaution would be to install a burglar alarm as a deterrent, and link it to the local police station if possible. If the alarm goes off, they will then contact you.
  • Ask a neighbour to drop by: If you can, get to know some of the people in surrounding properties and find out if one of them would be willing to visit the property from time to time and pick up any post. This can give the impression the house is occupied and deter intruders.
  • Some property owners install a motion-sensitive telephone, which means they can be immediately alerted to potential intruders.



When a property is unoccupied for long periods, depending on the climate in which it’s located, the following problems can arise:

  • Mould on walls: If you’re property is located by the sea, especially if the climate is humid, you can get mould forming inside on everything from walls to furnishings. One way to help prevent this is to keep the house ventilated, by for example, leaving a window slightly open. For security purposes, it’s best is this is inaccessible from the outside, or you have window locks that have a ‘slightly open’ setting. Then also make sure you leave interior doors open so the air can circulate.
  • Frozen pipes leading to flooding: If temperatures where your house is located go below freezing in winter, you could get frozen pipes. One way round this is to leave heating on low during the winter months. Also make sure all exposed pipes are properly lagged to protect them from cold, and turn off the water supply to your property to prevent flooding.
  • Radiator leaks: These are more of a problem in unoccupied properties, as there is no one around to spot the issue. You can guard against this by making sure your heating system is serviced once a year and that any old radiators are replaced.
  • Mouse or insect infestations: Mice and insects tend to be attracted by food, so you can avoid these kinds of problems by making sure your house is free from food when you’re not there, or that it’s put away in air-tight containers. Also always get your house cleaned before you leave it unoccupied for a long period to remove any food debris.


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Author: Carl Sharp | January 6, 2015

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