Protecting your student property over the christmas holidays

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Whether you live in university halls or a private student property, visiting home at Christmas or Easter can leave your student digs exposed to thieves. Here’s what you need to consider before driving home for Christmas.

Although it’s important to take responsibility for your own things at university, you can still get contents insurance to cover yourself in worst-case scenarios. Check you’re not covered by your parents’ insurance provider first. Stand-alone student contents policies are also available from some insurers. Leaflets from student insurance firms are usually circulated during the first week of term but you can also try looking online.

If you have any concerns about your security while at university, ask for advice from your parents, halls mentor or university services.

Vacant halls

Many universities offer students the chance to take a room for just 30 weeks a year. This only takes term-time into account and most students return to their family home over Easter half-term, summer and Christmas holidays.

Over these holiday periods, you may be asked to completely vacate your room. This could mean removing everything from contents to furnishings depending on your contract. They’ll also ask you to clean your room. Sometimes universities rent these halls to visitors over the empty period. Therefore it’s important to make sure you check underneath and behind any furnishings for anything that may of dropped down the back.

When you pack up your things, be sure to wrap everything carefully to prevent breakages and get rid of any food-stuffs from you room and communal areas. Clean your room thoroughly using appropriate cleaning products that the university should be able to recommend or loan to you.

Holidays are also a good opportunity to get rid of things you no longer need. You may be able to give quality items to friends or donate them to local charity shops. If not, your uni or local shopping centre should provide recycling facilities. The earlier you start this process the better, don’t leave it to the last minute when there are sure to be end of term parties and nights-out to enjoy.

You may not want to take all your possessions with you, if not – see if you university provides a secure storage facility. If they don’t have such a facility,  you could  try a a well-known self-storage company in the local area who uses high-quality security features. Prices may vary, but you might be able to store some of your stuff near your halls for a reasonable price.

Occupied halls

If you’re allowed to leave items in your halls over the festive period,  be sure to take valuable items like laptops, phones, cameras and jewellery home with you.  Also, make sure you lock all windows and doors carefully and unplug all electrical items. If you must leave valuables behind, try to make sure they’re hidden out of sight to help avoid opportunist thefts.

Private property

After your freshman year you may want to move into a private property. Your landlord will outline how  you should leave your property over holidays. Generally it’s considered best to shut off water while you’re away. You will also need to empty your fridge and throw away food that will go out of date. Cancel any regular deliveries to your house like milk and newspapers and make sure you get any other orders sent to a relative or friend’s address.

Your landlord should have insurance in place for the property’s structure, but it’s wise to buy your own contents insurance to make sure all your possessions are covered.

You can take other security measures. Tell your landlord or letting agency the dates the house will be empty and request they check up on it. Alternatively, ask a trusted friend or neighbour to keep an eye on it while you’re away. Automatic lights that are set on timers and burglar alarms can help deter night-time opportunists.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.