The Christmas period is very nearly upon us (already begun for some lucky people!) and for many renters that means locking up and heading off for a week or ten days, whether that’s to family and friends or warmer or colder climes for a Christmas abroad. If you’re leaving your rented property this Christmas then here are a few tips on things to remember before you go.
What does your tenancy agreement say? Depending on the length of your Christmas getaway you may have obligations in the tenancy agreement. For example, some tenancies will require you to notify the landlord or agent if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time. There may also be requirements to carry out certain obligations relating to the installations or appliances – for example, where a property has been unoccupied for 14 days you may be required to allow hot and cold water outlets to run for five minutes when you return to ‘purge the system of stale water.’ Have a quick check of your tenancy and make sure you know what’s required of you before you head off for your festive jaunt.
Secure your home properly. Whether you’re going away for just a few days or a couple of weeks, make sure that you close and lock all doors and windows to ensure the property is secure. If you have neighbours you’re on friendly terms with then ask them to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. Christmas is a time when many people head off to other destinations and this makes it a bumper season for burglars. If entry is gained to your property through a window left open or an unlocked door then this will most likely make it impossible to make a claim under your home contents insurance and you could find yourself responsible for any damage that intruders do to the property while inside, whether that’s maliciously leaving taps running or smashing the landlord’s furniture in an attend to get to valuables. Don’t advertise the fact that you’re going away on social media sites and consider investing in a security timer switch that will turn lights on intermittently to give the impression there is someone home.
Turn off and clear out. It sounds obvious, but in the last minute rush to get out of the door things do get forgotten. In particular, make sure you turn any Christmas lights off to avoid fire risks and unplug all electrical appliances. The exceptions to this are obviously the larger appliances, such as the fridge (if you turn this off as you leave you’ll return to a kitchen flood, as the freezer will defrost in your absence!). Make sure the fridge is empty of dated consumables before you leave and take out your rubbish or your could well return to an infestation that you will have to pay to clear. Avoid coming home to issues such as burst pipes by programming the heating to come on at a low heat a couple of times a day and possibly even draining the system if you’re going to be away for a while. Although it is the landlord’s obligation to make good any repairs to the water supply as a result of something like a burst pipe, if a tenant hasn’t taken care to try and prevent the damage then the landlord may well try to bill you for the cost.
These are a few of the steps that you can take to make sure that you leave your rented property in a safe and secure state if you’re going elsewhere for Christmas this year. As you’re looking forward to festive plans, the team at The Tenant’s Voice would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our Rights and responsibilities category.
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