Protecting Your Vacant Property

Written on Tuesday September 11, 2018 by Bob Hinrichs

Vacant rental

Whether you bought a home with the intention of fixing it up to rent/sell or you had to move before you could sell your primary residence, having an empty property can be a nuisance. To ease the burden, we’ve created a short checklist. Feel free to use to assist you in protecting your vacant property.

Avoiding Violations

As you may know, there is a lot involved in homeownership. When you live in the home you own, it’s easy to remember maintenance because you have daily visual reminders. However, if your property isn’t occupied, it can be challenging to remember when certain things are needed. Letting the property deteriorate is a surefire way to acquire code violations and fines from your local jurisdiction. Here are the major maintenance items you’ll want to keep up with…

  • Make sure the lawn is mowed regularly to avoid overgrowth. Depending on your property’s location, grass that exceeds eight to twelve inches is a violation. If you can’t personally maintain the lawn, hire a service to do it regularly.
  • Maintain a clean yard. If you or others are using your yard as a dumpster, you may receive fines. Easily put, keep your lawn cleaned up.
  • Keep up with the home’s structural maintenance such as exterior painting, broken windows, etc. Letting these conditions deteriorate further only gets you into trouble and lowers the value of your property. This can be devastating in the event that you do want to sell or rent it.

Securing the Home

In addition to avoiding violations through home maintenance, it’s important to also protect it from both inside and outside issues.

Protecting it from the inside could mean sustaining a constant temperature on the thermostat. In the summer, if the home gets too hot and humid, mold could develop. On the other hand, not keeping it warm enough in the winter could freeze (and burst) your pipes. These leaks can cause serious damage that is expensive to fix. You don’t have to keep the house comfortable enough for someone to reside there; however, setting the thermostat at 55 degrees in the winter and 75  in the summer can help tremendously. You might also want to have someone walk through the property regularly to make sure it’s in good condition. If that isn’t possible, there are multiple technologies that can help monitor your home thermostat, furnace, water, etc. remotely.

As we mentioned, you’ll also want to protect your house from outside factors, which is sometimes more challenging. It’s vital to put systems in place to keep unwanted people out of the home for the reasons below.

  • They may come in to steal metal from the pipes or furnace, take appliances/fixtures, or even strip your home of raw materials (wood floors, etc.). Essentially, these looters want anything they can make money on, which is just about everything in your home. If they are able to gain access to the inside of your home and know that it’s empty, you could come back to a gutted structure later on.
  • It’s also very important to keep people out to reduce your own liability of someone getting hurt. Even though they may not have been granted permission to enter, in some states, if they get hurt on your property, you could be responsible for their medical treatment, etc. It’s not crazy to think that teenage kids might break in and throw a party if they know it’s easy.
  • Finally, preventing squatters (unwelcomed residents) protects you from not only potential damage, but also from liability and in very RARE and specific circumstances, even losing ownership of your property. (Again, this is very rare and would have to happen over a long duration of time where the squatters take on some of the financial burden of the home such as property tax you may have been neglecting.)

Long story short, the best way you can protect your property from outside forces is to lock the doors and windows, potentially cover the windows and if money allows, put in a security system to alert you of any unwanted entry.

Using the Property Moving Forward

As I mentioned, most people in this scenario are people that bit off more than they could chew with a flip to sell or rent OR they couldn’t sell their home before relocating. Either way, just letting an empty house sit is a waste of money, time, and resources because you will still have to pay your mortgage (where applicable), property taxes and maintenance. If you aren’t up for becoming a landlord and renting it out and you’re having trouble selling it, reach out to us. We may be able to help.

Click the green banner on the right side, and we can reach out within the next couple of days to discuss your options and potentially remove the empty burden from your life.


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