Although an empty and vacant property or plot of land may seem an easy task for landowners to manage, there is a long list of considerations, obligations and requirements in order to ensure the land’s proper and full safety and upkeep.
UK Government statistics have shown an increase of 2.7% for vacant dwellings in recent years, (resulting in 605,891 vacancies in October 2017) similar to the 2.6% increase in that of long-term vacancies of such properties (resulting in 205,293 in October 2017). These statistics show the growing presence for this category of land within the UK, and make it increasingly important for landlords and property landowners to have the necessarily thorough knowledge of the obligations and responsibilities required for the upkeep of their empty or vacant land.
We have created this guide to help you get to grips with the main obligations of landlords and property landowners for empty and vacant land, helping you to safeguard your land and any property it may encompass.
What Is Empty and Vacant Land?
In order to understand whether or not your land falls under either of these categories and therefore if these obligations apply to you as part of your ‘land-owning duties’, the definition of empty/vacant land in relation to landlords and property landowners can typically be categorised under two distinct areas: residential properties and commercial properties.
Residential Properties – A residential property is a building structure, or part of such a structure, used as a home or place of residence by either its owner, or a separate tenant who pays rent. When a residential property falls under the category of an empty or vacant structure or plot of land, it means that the property no longer has anyone taking up residence within it. This leaves it as, quite literally, a piece of land that is vacant of occupants.
Commercial Properties – A commercial property is one which is used for professional or business activities. It can refer not only to structures that house a business and its staff, but also to the yielding of a profit from the actual land owned. When a commercial property becomes classed as empty or vacant land, this means, as with vacant residential properties, that the property has been vacated of all occupants.
What are the Landlord’s Obligations for Empty and Vacant Land?
To ensure the safekeeping of vacant or empty land and to make sure you are in line with the necessary laws around owning such land, here are a few key obligations involved in the management of this:
- Informing Insurance Providers – One of the first things landowners are obliged to do when their property has become vacant is to provide all information of the changes in occupancy and residency of the property to any current insurance providers, whilst also applying for unoccupied insurance cover, also known as ‘empty property insurance’
- Unoccupied Property Insurance – Ensure that you maintain strict compliance with regards to any and all requirements of the unoccupied insurance for the empty or vacant land in addition to maintaining a clear and concise record to the compliance of such terms. This is key should anything untoward occur with the property in question in the future
- Remove Potential Hazards – Ensure proper and effective removal of potential hazards that are left unattended in such empty properties. These include taking care of utilities by turning off the gas and electric, the draining of any water supplies, removal of materials that are of a hazardous, dangerous and combustible nature
- Friendly Neighbours – Go around and seek the help of those neighbouring your property or vacant land to keep a watchful eye over your empty or vacant property. This could help in increasing the likelihood of any intruders (such as thieves, vandals and squatters) being reported at the first instance, further protecting your land
- Intruder Alarms and Systems – Another effective way to alleviate the responsibility of safeguarding your property physically and yourself, is by installing intruder alarms. This could help further protect your property from the risk of theft or vandalism by acting as a deterrent as well as increasing the chance of catching those who do break in
- CCTV Systems – CCTV is another tremendously effective method of protection, helping to both deter and increase the chances of catching potential intruders. Secure Site offers excellent CCTV security, designed and installed with careful attention to the specific design of your property to help ensure maximum coverage
- Hide Valuables – Placing valuables that may attract thieves and vandals out of view and even out of reach helps further complete a landowner’s obligation of safeguarding their property, and can be done through a variety of different ways; examples including hoarding, a service of which is provided by Secure Site, with a variety of different styles that can adapt to the varying and unique features of your land
Whilst there are many requirements landlords and property landowners need to take on when ensuring the upkeep of empty and vacant properties, security providers such as Secure Site help alleviate such an overwhelming influx of responsibilities, ensuring a thorough safeguarding of such land and one less thing to worry about.