When standing empty, commercial properties not only attract no rent, but are subject to additional risks all of which can have further severe financial impact for landlords, property holders, investors and developers. If managed correctly, landlords can avoid expensive repairs and unnecessary costs as well as adding to kerb-appeal and the likelihood it will attract new tenants or (legal) occupiers sooner.
The falling demand for commercial property during the economic downturn and rise in failing businesses has led to a considerable increase in the number of vacant properties in the UK. One estimate puts this at one in ten High Street shops, with some areas suffering far worse than the average, adding to the temptation for criminals.
So what can landlords do to reduce these risks, issues and property management headaches?
- Steel window security
Vacant properties run a far higher risk of attracting squatters, trespassers, criminal damage, arson or theft. Making it difficult to gain illegal access is the first sensible step. Your premises is only as secure as its weakest point, with windows being the point from which many break-ins start. With 4 methods of securing vulnerable windows, whether they be uPVC, wooden, crittal or even ‘Listed’ in solid or perforated galvanised steel and secured in place with anti-tamper security screws, vacant properties can be quickly made impenetrable.
- Vacant property inspections
Without occupants to notice gradual or even sudden deterioration in a vacant property, defects such as such as leaking pipes run a far higher risk of causing significant damage and cost. Your insurer will therefore insist on regular inspections to monitor the property’s security, its utilities and any build-up of rubbish, especially combustibles that could all lead to claims.
- Steel security doors
Since access will be necessary for these regular inspections (and hopefully), the front door is best secured with a solid steel security door, fitted with 5-lever insurance-approved deadlocks, enabling only authorised access by key-holders.
- Decommissioning of utilities
During the winter there are additional risks of owning vacant commercial property. Either central heating and water systems should be drained down to prevent damage from freezing temperatures. Alternatively, or if water sprinkler systems are present the heating system thermostat should be should be set to maintain a minimum temperature to prevent burst pipes and the risk of flooding.
- Vacant property intruder alarms and fire alarms
Squatters (trespassers), thieves, vandals and arsonists can quickly cause devastating damage at vacant properties, so having an immediate alert to any unauthorised activity will enable a measured response, whether this be to despatch a security officer or the emergency services. Fitting a temporary intruder alarm system with optional smoke detectors will provide this, with Secure Site’s battery-operated VideoGuard system installed and rented for as long as the property is empty.