Vacant commercial properties are at an increased risk of break-ins that can result in vandalism or theft of property, fixtures and fittings (such as expensive copper pipes). Leaving the owner or administrator with unexpected and unwanted bills for repairing damage before the property can be re-let or sold.
Since the changes in squatter laws in 2012 to protect residential property, the risk of squatting in unoccupied commercial property has effectively doubled, as these remain ‘fair game’ for squatters to claim ‘rights’ in. Being larger premises, the potential for damage in closed pubs, shops and offices is significant.
The most important step to take once your commercial property becomes vacant is to ensure it is left in a secure condition. Even though you may have taken the precaution of locking all the doors and windows, an empty property will soon attract the attention of thieves and vandals. Physical barriers to entry are the most effective deterrent, immediately making a property far more difficult to enter. But whilst you may think wooden boarding up is the most cost-effective way, think again! Wood deteriorates surprisingly quickly and soon warps to reveal corners to get a crowbar under and simply prise off.
Galvanised steel screens or shutters cost the same as wood and don’t deteriorate, meaning they stay in place and are an effective deterrent for as long as the building is empty. Steel security doors also provide access to you, but not to squatters, thieves or vandals. With insurers also needing all combustibles removed from unoccupied buildings to reduce the risk of arson, why would you want to fit plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) which could be used as fuel?
Vacant property insurance
Having adequate insurance in place may give you some peace of mind because you know you will be covered for any eventuality. However, unoccupied building insurers have certain criteria and deadlines to adhere to, which Secure Site UK can ensure you comply with. These include carrying out regular Vacant Property Security Inspections to monitor the property’s condition and prevent the risk of deterioration. Inspections also identify attempted break-ins, vandalism, or fly-tipping – all of which are signs a building is vacant and therefore an easier target.
As the saying goes – prevention is better than cure, so turning off the water supply and disconnecting the electricity and gas supplies go a long way to reducing the risk of damage. But remember, you don’t want to disconnect the electricity supply if you have a working alarm system and, similarly, if you have a sprinkler system, you need to leave the water connected in case of a fire.
Because there is so much responsibility associated with looking after a vacant commercial building, it would be in your best interest to have a trusted security service take care of the property on your behalf.
Secure Site UK can look after all your vacant property needs, such as:
- Securing the property against illegal entry.
- Securing all external doors.
- Changing all locks within 7 days.
- Replacing or boarding up all broken windows.
- Sealing letterboxes if unoccupied for more than 6 months.
- Removing all internal and external waste materials, especially combustibles!
- Shutting off the gas supply.
- Shutting off and draining down the water supply (unless a sprinkler system is installed).
- Shutting off the electricity (unless this is required for viewings or alarms).
- Inspecting property internally & externally every 7 days.
- Logging all visits with date, time and identity of inspector.
- Reporting any breaches to the landlord, LPA Administrator or managing agent and recommending actions to rectify the problem immediately.
For more information about Secure Site UK’s vacant property security services and how we can help protect your unoccupied property and mitigate risks, simply call us on 08456 121312.