How Can I Keep My House Safe While On Holiday?
Summer is well and truly here and of course that means one very exciting thing… holiday time!
More families than ever take trips away from home during the warmer months, which should be a fantastic time for all, but unfortunately this is also a time when crime rates rise, especially in relation to home burglary. This is just one of the risks of leaving your property unattended. Given the team here at GWlegal LOVES summer holidays just as much as you do, we thought we would offer our clients a few tips about keeping your home safe during summer. While a lot of the advice we’re about to give might seem common sense, you may be surprised at what you can forget when you clock out from work and you’re officially in ‘holiday mode’!
These tips are particularly useful for first time home buyers, who are new to owning a property of their own, and are not yet used to the responsibility of the house being theirs, not a landlord’s. Homeowners, it is always better to be safe than sorry!
- Lock up… everything!
It goes without saying that if you’re leaving your property - whether it’s for five minutes or five months - absolutely every door and window should be closed and locked securely. We know it’s hot, but even leaving a window on an upper floor open could make your home a target of home invasion… even if that’s just by a pesky pigeon! Don’t forget about areas outside the main property too, such as garages and garden sheds. If a trusted family member, neighbour or friend will be coming around to water plants, feed pets or air the living areas, be sure that they have all the keys they need and are fully aware of every door and window that must be secured after they leave and how to lock everything up properly (tricky doors etc.). A written note with instructions could be useful. Remember - if you fail to adequately secure your home, the insurance company is unlikely to pay you a dime if the worst happens.
- Hide your car keys
In the worst case scenario where your home does get broken into, you at least want to ensure some of your valuables (such as cars and motorbikes) are not targets too. Hide the keys to all your vehicles or even take them on holiday with you. We are always surprised to hear tales of individuals leaving their car keys in the ignition, while the vehicle is in the garage. That is like Christmas has come early for the common thief!
- Conceal signs that you’re not at home
If you’re planning to be away for an extended period (lucky you!) there are going to be some telltale signs that you aren’t at home, if you’re not careful about it. Letters and junk mail overflowing onto the front steps, overgrown grass and thirsty flowers, for example. Ask a friend or relative to come over a few times a week to collect the mail, tidy up the front lawn and so forth. Ensure your fridge is stocked with some icy cold beverages for their trouble, of course!
If you don’t want to trouble a friend or neighbour, the Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service will hold your mail for up to two months. If you’re only going away for a fortnight, Keepsafe will hold your mail for up to 17 days for £17. Just be aware it takes five days to set up.
Cancelling the milk delivery and any other grocery deliveries will also keep your home safer and save you a bit of money too. For even more security, set lights to go on and off with a timer, to create the illusion you are at home.
- Don’t broadcast your holiday to the world
We know, we know it’s super tempting to post exotic snaps and details of your exact vacation itinerary on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Maybe you’ll even write about it on your blog. This is risky business, especially if your social media profiles are public, and there are details about where you live on them. Even if your profiles are private and you’ve not explicitly listed where you reside, you’d be surprised how easily your details can be obtained over the internet (and you can’t always trust everyone on your friends list!). Avoid the temptation and wait until you’re safe back home to make your social media followers jealous about your adventures afar.
- Secure important documents
If your home is invaded, things can easily be lost, taken or destroyed. Ensure that important documents, such as Wills or your PPI claims, are stored somewhere secure. Even better, have a solicitor file them for you. GW’s Linda Cummins (Wills and Probate) and Paul Cahill (Financial Claims) can legally do this for you.
On a side note, if you are set to write a will, make a PPI, we advise all individuals to do so sooner rather than later!
Read our article on: Why You Should Make A Will?
Read our article on: How Could I Be Mis-sold PPI?
- Turn everything off
No one wants their house to burn down while they’re off enjoying a beach break. Talk about horrible reality check - we find it hard enough to return to work! Unplug everything at the socket, turn off the gas, ensure all lights are switched off and… ladies, don’t leave your hair straightener or curling iron on! If you’ve got little kids, make a fun game out of turning everything off in as little time as possible.
- Spare keys
Finally, leave a spare set of keys with a friend, relative or trusted neighbour so that someone can gain entry to the property if something was to go wrong inside the house.
- Have fun!
Summer is the funnest time of the year. Enjoy it!
We offer the everyday legal services you require to move smoothly through each stage of life’s journey. Property law when purchasing your first home. Equity release when you are ready to retire. Financial Claims or personal injury services when something goes wrong. Will writing and estate planning to protect you and your loved ones.
If you have a legal matter you wish to discuss don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call us on 0345 373 3737 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org with your question.
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Content correct at time of publication.