View Full Version : Empty House Over Winter - Advice

15-11-2005, 18:55 PM
My final tenant is leaving next month, i will never again rent this house out, but use it as my own holiday home and let it as a holiday let.
Before i can embark on the holiday let i need to redecorate and make some improvements additions etc etc, so will only go ahead in July. The house will be empty over the winter and i am asking advice as to how best to care for it whilst it is empty - main concern is frozen/burst pipes.
Some people tell me NOT to keep the heating on low in case the boiler causes a fire (????), others tell me to turn the water off at the mains and drain the system.
I do not live in the country and therefore am reliant on my parents to pop down there and do whichever option i choose. They have suggested putting small electric heaters in the rooms just to heat the place through an hour a night.
I'm not overly concerned about money, but am concerned about fire risk, damp and burst pipes - therefore need to go with the most effective and safest option. I have an oil fired central heating system.
Any ideas?

15-11-2005, 23:21 PM
My personal opinion is to leave the heating on to heat the house to say 13 degrees or so. The risk of fire is insignificant compared to the risk of burst pipes etc. Think about it, if you were living in the house, over winter the heating would probably be on, to some extent or another, 70-80% of the time. Of course, it depends how old the boiler is!

15-11-2005, 23:55 PM
If in doubt, always consult with a specialist solicitor.

hehe, I wonder what a solicitor would advise :)

There is no perfect answer, homes are built to live in not be left empty.

Draining down the all of the heating and water supply pipes will remove the risk of burst pipes completely, but the lack of heating over the winter may lead to condensation and damage caused by it.

Conversely making sure that pipes and tanks in cold spaces like the roof are prperly lagged and heating the property will significantly reduce the risk of burst pipes and condensation, if not remove it. However, if the boiler breaks down, power gets cut off, etc then the plan may fail.

If you are planning on holiday lets you are going to need someone to manage it. Perhaps now is the time to get them involved and ask them to check on it periodically?

16-11-2005, 00:01 AM
Some of the modern boilers often have an anti-freeze setting set at about 5 degrees above freezing, have you checked to see if yours does. May be worth a look?

16-11-2005, 00:07 AM
Some of the modern boilers often have an anti-freeze setting set at about 5 degrees above freezing, have you checked to see if yours does. May be worth a look?

But do remember that this will prevent the heating pipework from freezing, not the hot and cold water pipes.

susan 2
16-11-2005, 11:45 AM
Day - My worry on this would be that if the house is empty, any insurance you have will be invalid. Have you contacted your insurance company? Usually they are not very happy about empty houses and if you do have to make a claim for burst pipes etc you do not want find you are not covered.

16-11-2005, 15:03 PM
Thanks for all the advice and opinions.
I guess a concern for me is that the boiler, even though only 1 year old is quite problematic....now i dont know if it the boiler or if it's the tenants who haven't been able to work it properly. It has just been serviced.
I could drain all the pipes and boiler although will be reliant on my parents to do this (will they do this right?) and then put the electric heaters on timers just to heat the place through to eradicate condensation and damp problems occurring.
Am trying to locate a manager for the holiday let.....which is no small feat!

16-11-2005, 17:10 PM
I still stand by having the heating on low constantly.....try and mimic actual living conditions as much as possible. I would say, despite what you have said, the chance of the boiler bursting into flames is slim to none, and even if it did, part of the liability IMO would have tosit with the engineer who serviced it. Not that this will put your mind at ease any, but may help if the worst should happen :D. Certainly I am of the opinion that electric heaters would be more risky, as it could cause two types of fires as opposed to the boiler's one...and I would say that a fire by an electric heater is far more likely! Indeed most say that you should not leave them unattended.

However, all the points on here are perfectly logical ways to go.

16-11-2005, 18:38 PM
I agree i think i will go with leaving the house heated, certainly less than if someone was actually living there, but enough to keep the pipes sufficiently unfrozen.
My parents came up with the electric heater idea - for some reason they seemed to think this would be a money saver, even though i'm not interested in penny pinching versus burst pipes!
They also seemed to think that leaving the heating on low would suck the oil down, and cause chaos if it drained empty.....i think they have an overactive imagination of how much oil is used by this system!
They mean well, but i was sceptical of their logic!

Tax Accountant
16-11-2005, 19:15 PM
I am not sure if the respondents realised that you had an oil heating rather than gas heating.

I would suggest you reconsider letting your property for 6 months to get through the winter. If offered at low(er) rent, I am sure you will attract good tenants to choose from.

You also need to consider vandalism or break-ins etc in case of an empty property.


17-11-2005, 03:41 AM
This is a very good point from Karongo. If you offer the property at a nominal rent, you will lose the responsibility for utility bills! Certainly worth a try if you do not need the property for another 7 months or so, which it certainly sounds like!

17-11-2005, 17:43 PM
No bloody way am i ever having tenants again.....it's not that any of them have been 'bad' they've all paid the bills and rent and there has been no damage but i am just not prepared to give up my rights to my own property again as a landlord - hence going over to a holiday let.
I am probably going to go over in January now for a week, get some decorating done and essential additions and repairs which means i'll be able to get going with the holiday let earlier than July as originally planned.
I understand the logic with having a tenant for a further six months.....i just dont want it!