A good percentage of Cypriots own a holiday home and thousands of foreign residents as well. Most of these homes are not occupied for a long period of time and are used occasionally during mainly the summer season.
Periodic occupation is the norm rather than otherwise and it entails certain risks that we wish to point out, based on our general experience on such matters.
- Place an alarm system for security and have it connected with your own telephone/or to have a phone of a friend/employee/neighbour who can look after the property.
- Vacant periods in excess of 30 continuous days as a result of which during this period you suffer damage, the insurance company will not pay for the damage. For this reason, make sure that your insurance covers the vacant periods.
- Nevertheless, you must visit your property at regular intervals (at least every month) or have a person to do it for you and to inspect the property both externally and internally (be it that this might cost you say around €30 p.m.).
- When away turn off the electricity and water provision, so that you reduce the risk of accidents.
- Nearer the time for your own use, make sure that the house equipment is operational, e.g. white goods, electricity, air conditioning etc.
- f you have a swimming pool, electricity is needed for the water circulation, whereas the provision of chemicals is also a must. The hours of the pool operation could be reduced to 50% of the summer hours i.e. instead of 6-7 hours per day 3-4 hours. If the pool is covered, the time will be shorter, but still, you need to inspect and make sure that the water is reasonably clean.
- When away close the bathrooms/sink taps and make sure that you place in the drain ½ cup of diesel oil. That will reduce the intrusion of cockroaches and will also prevent smells from coming in (it prevents water evaporation also).
- Notwithstanding the non-occupation, we do suggest that you should have someone to “clean” the house say once every 1-2 months.
- Make sure that when you decide to disconnect the electricity supply that your alarm system works/as well as that of the pool.
- If you are away for some time and you have good relations with your neighbours and provided you trust them, let them know your days of absence, in order for them to keep an eye on your property (you can do the same when your neighbours are away). Not a secured job however and we say that this will depend on how well you know the neighbours (on one occasion the neighbour was actually letting out the property for his own use!!).
- If you have a garden make sure that your caretaker visits the garden in order to examine any damage, leaking water pipes and damage to the plants etc.
- If you have a car and unless you have a closed garage (secured) better to place your car in storage (always depending on its value).
- Bear in mind that even if you do not live in the property, you will be still charged with Municipal services (e.g. refuge collection), as well as ownership taxes including sewage costs.
- If we are to acquire a house costing €300,000 you must budget for all the above a 4%-5% running cost which might include basic maintenance and if a residential pool (e.g. 4 m. x 8 m.) with €50 p.a. (winter period) and €100 p.m. (summer period). For apartments, the cost is much less, but in addition, you have to pay the common expenses (independently of use).
Securing one’s holiday home and maintaining it costs, but it is the only way to have the property in good maintenance and retaining its value.
- If you so decide to let your property tell the insurance firm that this is what you are doing. The insurance fee will be slighter higher, but then you will not have serious arguments regarding theft and damage.
- Avoid tempting thieves such as leaving your garden unattended, having numerous leaflets in your letterbox/under the door, having ladders resting on walls outside facilitating the entrance of “visitors” at the house. Use shutters at least for the ground floor and the new double locks for door/windows. If you have a private safe make sure that it is screwed on the floor/wall since nowadays thieves do not bother to open the safe on spot but, take the whole safe away!!
Regrettably keeping your home safe costs, but as we say, better to be safe than sorry (in Greek the saying is, better look after your clothes so that at the end you are left with half).