There are some instances where a property is periodically empty but in use at other times, for instance holiday homes, seasonal working or study or where the owner may have a job that requires a lot of travel.

These properties are not classed as empty by the Council. Nevertheless there may still be issues over keeping the property secure from vandalism and antisocial behaviour.

The best advice for keeping the property secure from squatters and vandalism is to have someone living there. There may be property sitting companies/ property guardians/ caretakers that can look after your property by having someone stay there as well as short term schemes such as housing cooperatives that will ‘borrow’ the property on a short lease or licence, handing it back over when the owner decides.

If this is not possible, ask the neighbours to keep an eye out for potential disturbances and inform the local neighbourhood watch scheme. Details of a local scheme should be available from your local police office.

A house that looks lived in is less likely to be a target for crime and there are many devices on the market that can turn lights and appliances on and off at certain times and even open and close curtains.

Ensure you have a centrally controlled alarm system that can alert you to any disturbances and a plan of action should the alarm be activated (especially if it goes off accidentally).

If you are not planning on living in the property for some time and expect it to remain long term empty you can arrange for the property to be boarded up. Boarding up the property involves closing up the windows and doors with timber or metal sheeting to prevent access to the property. In reality this option is better suited to properties that are derelict or may pose a danger to anyone gaining access e.g. after a fire. Boarding up is not usually very favourable with neighbours and a better option would be to sell the property to enable it to be bought back into use.

Don’t forget to check that the property is insured and the terms of the insurance.