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When you are responsible for looking after a second home in London, it is recommended that you make use of the services of a professional property maintenance company in London.

This is because there are so many problems that vacant properties can succumb to.  By keeping it in pristine condition, the home will not only retain its value but will look and feel good when in use. When money is not an issue there should be no problem when deciding what work to carry out, but when you are busy doing other things, the last thing you want to do is tour the property and make a list of jobs to be done.  This is when using a local property maintenance company in London pays dividends, as not only will they do the work, but they can advise you on what needs to be done. Whether it’s painting jobs, cleaning out gutters or maintaining the grounds, these are just a few of the many areas that will require attention.

Larger projects will need to be diarised well in advance to give contractors time to prepare as they may be particularly busy during certain times of the year.  Choose a contractor that has excellent references and feedback and who you know will carry out the work to a high standard. 

External problems

Pests such as rodents love empty properties, so it is not only the visual fabric of the building that you need to look after. What better place for them to make a nest than in a warm and secure building. Cold winters will quickly drive pests such as rats indoors and they will literally eat their way through anything; timbers, electric cables, walls, insulation etc. 

An experienced property maintenance company in London will do the following and more:

  • Exterior walls – check for holes or cracks and repair whilst small.  If left, they will only get bigger.
  • Door locks – ensure that all locks work correctly and replace faulty ones. This is essential to keep your home safe and secure. Locks on any outbuilding need to be included.
  • Gutters and downpipes – these will soon block with debris which can result in water penetrating and damaging fascia boards. Leaves need to be removed from gutters annually and gutters kept in good order.
  • Drains – clean regularly to prevent blockages forming. Jet washing can help with this.
  • Windows and door frames – if wooden, they will require regular maintenance, particularly if you are exposed to salty conditions near the coast. Look out for damage and treat with a waterproofing product annually. Where suitable for the age of the property, you may wish to replace wooden frames with UPVC.

Internal Problems

You will also need to get your chosen property maintenance company in London to take care of the following issues internally:

  • Mould – this can soon start to appear in empty properties, particularly when doors and windows are sealed.  Lack of ventilation and humidity are perfect conditions for mould to start growing. Your property maintenance company in London can ventilate the property and clean off the first signs of any mould.
  • Boilers – these should be turned off when not in use, although you may wish to leave it on low during very cold months.
  • Water mains – it is always wise to shut off the water at the mains as leaks in empty properties during colder months are common. Drain the pipes to prevent rust.
  • Electrical plugs – for safety’s sake, remove plugs from wall sockets where you can to prevent damage to electrical equipment during power cuts/surges and to reduce the risk of a fire due to short circuiting etc..
  • Fridge and freezer – during long periods away, defrost and leave doors open to eliminate mould and unpleasant smells.

Some of these things may sound very minor, but by taking care of them before they become huge problems, you will save a lot of money and time. Even more importantly, the property will look well cared for and will be a pleasure to return to. 

Vandalism

Looking after a property whilst you are living in it is relatively easy but as soon as a building becomes vacant for any amount of time, protecting its value becomes more demanding. Fail to manage your empty property correctly and it will soon go downhill, both in terms of value and condition. Some problems can remain hidden for some time before being noticed, by which time the damage may be extensive and repair costs considerable.  Vandals can also cause all sorts of problems to so it is recommended that you put preventing vandalism high on the list of must-dos for your property maintenance company in London.  Here are just a few of the things that they may cause:

  • Fire damage – we’ve all seen the tragic stories of wonderful properties used by vandals, fires being caused and the whole building razed to the ground.  Often the damage is irreparable. Water used to extinguish the flames will only add further to making the building uninhabitable. 
  • Fly tipping – this may sound like an odd one but your gardens, drive and outside space can all be used by fly-tippers for dumping rubbish. As the landowner, you are responsible for clearing up the mess and can be fined by the council if you don’t.

To prevent the above, use your property maintenance company in London to keep the building monitored and secured at all times by installing and maintaining security gadgets like fire and theft alarms. The best alarms are those that connect directly to the maintenance company, police or fire service.

Squatters- what are they, how to deal with them and how to prevent them

Squatters love luxury properties and once in, they are hard to evict. The damage caused by them can be extensive and incredibly upsetting.  Fixtures and fittings may be ripped out, graffiti applied and the whole fabric of the building torn down internally.

A squatter is defined as a person or people who occupy an area of land/building that they do not own or rent or have lawful permission to use. With up to one billion squatters around globally, it is a much bigger problem than you may at first think. 

Because removing them is so difficult, it is far less stressful and less costly to use your property maintenance company in London to prevent them.  

  • If they do get inside, you will need legal advice, possibly using an interim possession order (IPO) to evict them or make a claim for possession. 
  • Trying to get them out yourself is a no-go area as if you use force or threats, you are committing a crime.
  • Once it has been 28 days or less since you found out about the squatters, you can apply for an IPO via the county court.  
  • If you want to use some self-help measures too, tread carefully. You can change the locks but must not use violent entry to gain access, particularly if one of the squatters opposes you.  
  • Savvy squatters will have already changed the locks and will guard the property all the time. They may quote Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and may even call the police.

You may prefer to ask your solicitor to conduct a special court process for squatters, enabling you to get them out within about four weeks.

It is easy to see that looking after a second home is time-consuming and does require a high level of care and attention to prevent the deterioration of the property whilst unoccupied.  Trying to do this yourself can be a step too far, particularly if you already have a busy lifestyle.  By making use of the services of a professional property maintenance company in London, you can have total peace of mind. You will know that the property is in safe hands and free from the many perils that empty properties can succumb too. Not only will it be a pleasure to return to but the value of your second home will also be preserved.

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