Guidance for students leaving their accommodation empty over the festive period

Photograph of a double decker bus parked at a bus stop in Manchester.

With the festive period just around the corner, you’ve probably already started to make plans with family and friends.  If this is the case and you live away from home during term time, it’s easy to forget about what needs to be done to secure your accommodation before you travel back.

Make sure you follow these tips from our accredited accommodation partner, Manchester Student Homes, to prevent any nasty surprises when you return in January.

  • Clean out your fridge

Imagine returning to some milk that’s so far past its sell-by-date that it’s almost solid.  Or to find that the vegetables you bought with such good intentions have turned to mush.
Nobody wants to return to a smelly fridge, so it’s important that you get rid of anything that will go off while you’re away – and tell your housemates to do the same!

Better still, try not to waste food and use up your ingredients before you leave - you can donate any spare food products to your local food bank if you don’t get chance to use them.

  • Check your heating

You might be tempted to turn your heating off altogether while you’re away to save money, but this can cause much bigger problems than an inflated utilities bill.

As the temperature drops over winter, turning off your heating system completely can lead to frozen pipes, which can cause them to burst.  It’s usually best to leave your heating on a timer so that it’s on for a couple of hours a day while your property is empty.  Check with your landlord if you’re not sure about anything.

  • Get unplugging

One way that you can save money over the break is to make sure you’re not using any electricity unnecessarily.  By turning off appliances at the wall and unplugging them, you can be sure that you haven’t left anything on that could be costing money, or worse still, pose a safety risk.  You’ll be doing your bit for the environment too!

Don’t forget though – do not unplug your fridge and freezer!

  • Lock your doors and windows

We don’t want to sound negative, but burglaries impacting students over the winter break are not uncommon.  This is usually due to properties not being secured properly or the occupier leaving expensive electrical equipment on display.

So, if you’re leaving anything valuable in your accommodation over the festive period, make sure it’s out-of-sight, or better still, locked away.  If you’re the last person to leave your property, double or triple-check that you have locked all doors and windows securely.

  • Don’t advertise that your property is empty

Think before posting on social media that you’re heading home for the break – do you really want everyone to know that your accommodation is going to be empty?  You never know who might see your post and take a chance.

You might also want to think about investing in a lamp that you can put on a timer to make your property look lived-in over the festive break.  Free light timers are available from the Manchester Student Homes Pod (University of Manchester Students’ Union, Oxford Road, M13 9PR).

Tell your neighbours you’re away, they are the best people to keep an eye on your property.  Letting your landlord know is also an advantage.

  • Rubbish bins

Sort your rubbish out and put items into the correct bins.  Put your bins out for collection the night before and remember to bring it in after they have been emptied.  Don’t leave it on the pavement and return home - this is a signal to others that you’re not in.

It may be tempting to leave bins against your house, but this gives opportunists easy access to upper floor windows and the chance to jump over a fence or gate.

  • Let your landlord know your leaving

You should inform your landlord if everyone is leaving for the festive break.  Let them know when the last person is leaving and when you expect someone will return.  Your landlord could keep their eye on the property during this period.