If your property looks untidy and badly maintained, it will quickly start attracting the sort of attention you really don’t want.

Maintaining the grounds

One of the first signs that a property has become unoccupied is when the gardens and grounds become untidy and unkempt, and the first people to pick up on these sometimes subtle signs, are the local youngsters. Unfortunately, although often meaning no deliberate harm, the lure of adventure can prove to be too much for our young teens, and what may begin as innocent curiosity can lead quickly to serious damage and destruction.

It is therefore vital that the exterior of the property is kept tidy and well maintained, to give the appearance that the house is in constant use.

These may seem like trivial matters, but if neglected, things can quickly deteriorate. If an area of garden looks untidy, it can soon become a dumping ground for litter, then a convenient place for locals to dump full rubbish bags, old prams, supermarket trolleys and worse.

It is a condition of many specialist unoccupied property insurance policies that the exterior and grounds are constantly maintained, and in the event of disaster, an insurer may use lack of maintenance and failure to remove litter, debris and combustible materials as the basis to decline your insurance claim.

Action points:

1. Ensure perimeter hedges are well kept, and fences, gates and walls are undamaged and well presented.

2. Cut the lawn regularly. If you are not local to the property, employ a local gardener once a fortnight to cut the grass and maintain any borders. Remember, the garden is the first and quickest sign to develop, advertising that your property is empty.

3. Check guttering, down pipes and woodwork in windows etc for damage, and rectify any problems.

4. Apply weed killer to paths and driveways if there are any signs of growth.

5. Redirect post and seal the letterbox internally to prevent accumulation of junk mail visible from outside.