Accommodation Safety

8 things to check before leaving your student house for the Christmas break

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We know many of you will be heading away from Manchester over the next few weeks. Between the excitement of heading home for Christmas and organising the actual logistics of this year, it’s easy to forget to look after your student house. 

A lot of student accommodation will be empty for an extended period this year, so make sure you follow these tips to prevent any nasty surprises when you return in January. 

1. Clean out the 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. Or, you can donate any spare food products to your local food bank (there’s one in the Sainsbury’s Local or the Chaplaincy on campus). 

2. Check your heating 

You might be tempted to turn off your heating altogether while you’re away to save money – BUT this can cause much bigger problems than an inflated 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 the property is empty. Check with your landlord if you’re not sure. 

3. 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 your electrics at the wall and unplugging them, you can be sure that you haven’t left anything on that could be costing money, or worse, could be a safety risk. You’ll be doing your bit for the environment too! 

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

4. Lock up your doors and windows 

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

If you’re leaving anything valuable in your student home, make sure it’s out-of-sight, or better still, locked away. If you’ve got a timer light in your property, make sure it’s on when you’re away. If you’re the last person to leave your property, double or triple-check that you have locked all doors and windows securely. 

You can pick up free timers and window alarms from Manchester Student Homes on the ground floor of the Students’ Union. 

5. 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 student house 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 Christmas. 

Tell your neighbours you’re away for Christmas, they are the best people to keep an eye on your house. Give them a phone number that they can contact you on if they have any concerns.  

6. Rubbish Bins 

Sort your rubbish out and put items into the correct bins. Make sure that you catch the last collection before you leave if you have wheelie bins and that you or your housemates are still around to bring the bins in. Leaving them on the pavement tells people that you’re not around to take in your bins. Also think about where your bins are positioned – leaving them under a window for example could give opportunists easy access to upper floor windows. 

7. Your Valuables 

If at all possible, take your valuables with you, especially if you’re going to be away for an extended time. 

8. Let Your Landlord Know Your Leaving 

You should inform the landlord if everyone is leaving for the Christmas 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 when they are passing by. 

Don’t forget to share this with your housemates! You might not be the last to leave your property, so it’s good to make sure you all work together to keep your home as safe as possible over Christmas. 

Further information and support 

Manchester Student Homes will be in the foyer of the Students’ Union 11am-2pm on Tuesday 5 December with more information about keeping your house safe over the Christmas vacation. 

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