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magpie patrick

Neighbour absent long term (house) - what to do?

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Once again, not me, but friends in Frome who are genuinely looking for advice

 

Next door house - they know, or rather knew, the neighbour who has now been absent for over 12 months. They have had "occasional" text messages that have said little more than "I'm alive" - and the last of those was two months ago.

 

Mrs W is concerned about an empty house in a town short of housing, Mr W is more concerned about the impact of a property that has effectively been abandoned. They and others have tidied the front garden but no-one has a key.

 

The house is owner-occupied (or rather, owner-unoccupied), as far as I can gather with a mortgage 

 

My concerns given such a long absence are

 

Is it a safety risk? (roof tiles falling off for example)

is it a security risk?

is it a fire risk?

is it insured at least third party? 

 

But I have no idea, despite a professional background in planning and property, as to how I might answer these or other questions.

 

Anyone got any thoughts?

 

I keep asking you forumites as you collectively know a lot and are suitably removed from these situations so there is little risk of "Oi, that's my brother you're talking about" or similar! 

Edited by magpie patrick

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7 minutes ago, magpie patrick said:

They have had "occasional" text messages that have said little more than "I'm alive" - and the last of those was two months ago.

Obvious question. If they are receiving text messages, do they have a contact number?

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3 minutes ago, rusty69 said:

Obvious question. If they are receiving text messages, do they have a contact number?

yes, the mobile they get the text messages from - they get little is any response

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Firstly, stop doing the front garden. Then contact the council. For them to take any action will take YEARS. This is exactly what happened to good friends of ours. Their semi-detached neighbors abandoned their house and it eventually threatened to damage our friends property. Eventually the council stepped in and did repairs, then took the owner to court and the property was eventually sold. But it did take many years.

 

eta - should have said ‘the council stepped in and did urgent emergency repairs’

Edited by Mike Tee

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24 minutes ago, magpie patrick said:

yes, the mobile they get the text messages from - they get little is any response

Then maybe a quick call would help answer the second two questions, and determine when the owner will return? 

 

I would think if it has a mortgage, it will be insured. 

 

If the heating has been left on, then it is clearly more of a fire risk than if it is off. 

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But if the heating isn't left on, then unless the water is drained down other problems are highly likely.

 

In my experience, having dealt with estates after death, insurers are very reluctant to insure a house left unoccupied, and if you can find one that will issue cover it is far more expensive than fo an occupied house, and they will place so many exclusions on it, that the cover is totally basic, and will not cover the things more likely to actually befall it.

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1 hour ago, magpie patrick said:

is it insured at least third party? 

Most insurers will not cover a house being empty for more than 30 days, unless special terms are agreed.

 

I have just renewed our house insurance and the clause is still there.

When we go away for 3-6 months boating we have to arrange for a family member to visit once a month to keep us insured.

  • Greenie 1

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My father bought his current retirement bungalow before selling his previous house.  In the event it took a while to sell the old house, which remained empty. His insurers were happy to waive the normal 30 day limit on it being unoccupied and I don't think they charged much extra premium. But it was only for a few months, and I don't know how happy they would have been if it had gone on for longer.

We did visit periodically, but a daytime visit doesn't count as resetting the 30 day clock - somebody has to stay overnight. And in the event of a claim you would presumably need to be able to prove this.

Edited by David Mack

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1 hour ago, alan_fincher said:

But if the heating isn't left on, then unless the water is drained down other problems are highly likely.

 

In my experience, having dealt with estates after death, insurers are very reluctant to insure a house left unoccupied, and if you can find one that will issue cover it is far more expensive than fo an occupied house, and they will place so many exclusions on it, that the cover is totally basic, and will not cover the things more likely to actually befall it.

Having dealt with insuring an unoccupied property  the premium was lower than when it was occupied......

Just building cover no contents and we had to carry out some sensible precautions ( water off, minimum temperature etc)

We used the same broker ............note we used a broker not the interweb.

The same broker also provided a policy for a friends unoccupied property ..........

Life doesn't have to be difficult.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Alan de Enfield said:

Most insurers will not cover a house being empty for more than 30 days, unless special terms are agreed.

 

I have just renewed our house insurance and the clause is still there.

When we go away for 3-6 months boating we have to arrange for a family member to visit once a month to keep us insured.

We used to do that, or return ourselves, but our insurer specifically added a clause to prohibit this, insisting (1) that it had to be us, in person, staying for at least 7 days and (2) only one such double-absence was permitted per year. They were the third insurer within 5 years to do this or similar, and what made it worse this time was that they did it without telling us and later told us retrospectively that we had been uninsured for 9 months.

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When my father’s house was unoccupied after he moved into care, I was able to get buildings cover (the house was by then unfurnished) from a specialist insurer, the terms required a weekly visit and suitable precautions against frost damage. And it wasn’t cheap.

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The owner of this house moved to Australia, he paid his council tax every year and it stood empty and dilapidated for thirty years.

Screenshot_20200214-222514_Samsung Internet.jpg

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9 hours ago, Rickent said:

The owner of this house moved to Australia, he paid his council tax every year and it stood empty and dilapidated for thirty years.

Screenshot_20200214-222514_Samsung Internet.jpg

That's depressing - I don't think Mr and Mrs W had reckoned on being grandparents before the problem was solved! 😱

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