Empty house (practical tips)

I lost my beloved mum in April and her house has been sitting empty since as she lived alone. I have been back a few times to collect post and water the plants and it’s utterly gut wrenching I can tell you.

I’m 1.5 hours away with a baby so thankfully the kind neighbour has been checking the post and watering the plants weekly but I feel I can’t ask her to do more than that.

As the weather is going to get much colder my partner said I should set the timer so that the heating comes on in the morning and evening just for half an hour each time. It’s better this than have burst pipes in exceptionally cold weather. I’m also going to set a timer so the lamp goes on in the evening and therefore it doesn’t look empty. Obviously this is going to rack up the electricity a bit but that can’t be helped.
I don’t feel I can ask the neighbour to check all the rooms for leaks etc every time she goes as I feel it’s taking the mickey so I’m going to have to ask a friend to do that instead as I’m not on the doorstep.

Has anyone else had this situation and can offer some practical tips on how to deal with an empty house?

Thank you.

Hello @BrackObama,

I’m so sorry for the loss of your mum. Thank you for sharing this with us. I’m just giving your thread a gentle, “bump” for you - hopefully someone will have some thoughts to share.

Take good care,

Well I have been in the same situation with regards to my sons flat. I put it with an agent but the property market is poor so have taken the plunge and selling it to a property buying company, a lot less money. So far so good doing this. They have their own solicitors they use and can get things sorted out quickly. Hope this helps.

Leave one of the taps with open with the slightest drip that you can achieve,the pipes won’t freeze but also isolate any outside taps, and turn off everything electrical that is on standby. You still need the house to keep relatively warm to avoid cold damp spots and eventually mould.
Heating on morning and night at around 20c for one hour should keep the fabric of the house okay.

Hi,Just read your post and I am in the same situation. My mum passed last Dec and her house is exactly the same as when she was alive. The reason being it was too heartbreaking to sell it.
We visit and stay overnight each week as we live an hour away. We have a timer for the heating just so the house doesn’t get damp. We didn’t put it on in the beginning last year and quickly realised mould was coming on the window sills so putting the heating on very low helped with that.
The next door neighbours are brilliant and keep an eye on the house . They don’t want payment but I buy them some vouchers each month eg Tesco. They don’t have a key but do jobs like cutting the lawn and check mail has been put through the letterbox properly.
When we visit we leave the curtains and blinds drawn differently.
We will sell the house eventually but I am finding it so hard to do.
As you said it’s gut wrenching going back to her house and an understatement to say it’s heartbreaking. I worry about the house being empty so I know I have to make decisions soon.
Deborah x

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I had this when my mother in law was in hospital. But it was a council flat but still had issues as she wasnt coming out and died. Then we had to pay her rent which she got free so mad scramble to clear the place. A year later same thing only quicker with my widowed mother who died suddenly alone in her rented house.
Having to pay full rent suddenly and cope. Living 22 mile away. Wasnt freezing cold then. But lot simular problems. Looting was one. Very upsetting. My son was in hospital for an extended period and his rented flat was in a mess. Not exactly the same but still having to deal with these issues. Not sure did well. All his food went bad. Letters stacking the same. Was five mile away. Just had to deal with it somehow. Things went wrong. Could not trust neighbours. I think my family will have this problem to deal with one day as I am a widow trying to sort out my late husbands stuff let alone my own. House started to get issues when the cold spell and bills sky high. Wish could say answers. Had to deal with mould using special product. scrubbing. Yes drying out.

Hello Brack,yes, not only are you greaving you have a problem about what to do with your late mothers house, know about the heating, its far better if you can to work the heating from a thermostat and not a timer, I suggest you turn it down to 12 centigrade, it will use very little energy and only come on when required, the light that comes on is a good idea, use a low energy bulb(about 5 watt) uses hardly anything, I assume you have dispensed with phone/internet services, probably a good idea to turn off the water at the mains and run the attic and hot water tank dry, you can also drain off the heating system and that would dispense with the need for it but you say you want to water the plants?., check the house insurance policy, I am not covered if the property is left unoccupied for more then 30 days and it may be the same for you, also if furniture is left in it you may still be liable for council tax,in the medium to long term you have 3 choses, live in it, rent it out, or sell it, I do not recommend you leave it unoccupied for a prolonged period of time and I do not know your circumstances but if you wish to retain the asset for know I would consider letting it, check references carefully and I suggest you seek a profeshernal, in work person over 50, sorry if not pc but NO DSS and make sure you have good landlord insurance, good tenants are worth there wait in gold and take the pressure off you, bad ones are just the opposite, think very carefully what you want to do, I am getting over ptsd and the death of my mother who I cared for at home for 4 years who died in my arms in january and I find myself the sole survivor of my nuclear family having lost my twin two years ago and know live alone like your mother did, I am 63 and expect to be alone for the rest of my life, good luck