Statistically, Chelsea has one of the highest second home ownership rates in the UK. 6% of its properties are owned as a second home and 18% of its full time occupants own a second home elsewhere. Taken together, roughly a quarter of its population have immediate access to another property and current evidence shows that in self-isolation many have chosen to leave London. And as these ownership statistics are quoted from 2011 census, the numbers are likely to be far higher now.
Empty properties lead to problems. The most immediate concern is crime. Smart houses, with expensive contents and empty streets are a dream setting for crime. Through our Family Office Service partners we have seen a notable increase in demand for regular private security patrols. These can be relatively cost efficient to arrange (from £75 per day) and offer significant peace of mind. Over the longer term, property owners are now more interested in remote monitoring of properties through their alarm systems and there a number of good systems available.
Household utilities also tend to misbehave while their owners are away. That leaking tap you have been meaning to fix, decides to now make itself known. It is important to have a regular program of servicing or reliable backup repair companies on tap. As the saying goes, ‘a stitch in time, saves you nine’. Our Family Office Service partners can manage both of these requirements.
Finally, a couple of practical points to consider. Most people will have household insurance to cover their properties and these should be ‘All Risk’ policies. Most policies will have an ‘unoccupied’ clause embedded and it is now important to familiarise yourself with that clause. Once a certain period of time elapses without you living in a property (typically 30 or 60 days) your insurance is no longer valid. It is likely self-isolation will test some of these time periods. Secondly, your post. It will be mounting on your doorstep and not being opened. Its relatively easy on the Royal Mail website to divert post within the UK.
Please do not hesitate to contact our Family Office Services team if you have any questions.