Travel Pre Departure Preperation
Tie up Loose EndsHere are some tips that may help you tie up some loose ends as you leave the rat-race
If you are a student or a person with no commitments or ties then Bon Voyage.
If you are a Homeowner you could rent you could generate some income by renting your home while you are away. However you should be wary as to the agent you choose to market your property for letting. A home is normally a persons prize asset and therefore you should do everything you can to minimise the chances of your property being mishandled. There is the potential risk of having our property occupied by squatters, bad tennants or the agent simply not paying you. One way to minimise this risk is to market your property with an agent that is registered with ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) and look for an agent that does nothing but residential lettings. You may also choose a managed service so agents can deal with odd jobs without having to contact you while you are away.
If you are going to let yourself make sure the new tenants sign a 'Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement', this will make it easy for you to evict the tennants if they should decide to squat.
If you have a mortgage you may want to switch (if cost effective) to a short term flexible mortgage and make use of the payment holiday feature. In a payment holiday you are not obliged to make payments for a few months (normally 2 months a year). If you plan carefully and your travel spills into the next calendar year you can opt for a payment holiday for each calender year. For example if you are travelling between November and March, you can have a payment holiday for the current year and the next year so you are not obliged to make payments in Nov-Dec-Jan-Feb (4 months).
If you plan not to rent – inform your Electricity & Gas / Phone or Cable / Water / Tv licence that your property will be vacant during those periods (to minimise payments during that period). Some suppliers may treat this as a change of tennancy and disconnect your account. If the utilities don't treat this as a change of tennancy, some options are to switch to a no standing charge tariff for the Gas and Electricity. Also ask the utility providers what options are available. If you are out of contract with Cable (Virgin Media) you may be offered to make a small payment a month (£5 approx) to keep your services connected also you could always just disconnect.
As for council tax follow this link, enter your postcode in and it should take you to the relevant links on your local council website. According to Direct.gov.uk you may be exempt / get a discount if the property is unoccupied, probably a good idea to tell them the property will be unoccupied and don’t know when it will be occupied (who knows you may decide to stay out there). Unfortunately there isn't much you can do about your mobile phone contract, if you are still in contract. You can always try and convince them to go on a lower tariff.
Move your valuable items into secure storage (bank safe / leave with family members) as most contents insurance may not cover you (as you are not occupying the property for a long time) if you need to make a claim.
Leave your house keys with a trusted member of you family / friend and ask them to check on your property from time to time. If you are gone in the winter convince a member of your family or trusted friend or neighbour to put your heating on (low heat – the objective here is to keep your room above 0 degrees Celsius) to stop things like burst pipes etc.
There is a risk of squatters occupying your property, to minimise the risk of a break in, purchase some electronic timer switches (the ones you can plug into a wall socket), attach a lamp to it and have it switch on a lamp in the hours of darkness so it gives the illusion of occupancy.
If you have off-street parking (preferably a garage) you may want to get a SORN so you don’t have to pay road tax. As for car insurance you may need to assess the risk of your car being vandalised / stolen etc before making a decision about cancelling car insurance.