Vacant properties are vulnerable and at constant risk of malicious damage by vandals, arsonists and thieves – especially cabling at today’s inflated weigh-in prices! Therefore vacant property security is something you will want to consider.
Whilst landlords with vacant property may already be taking steps to minimise the risk, how many would think of contacting their insurance company and let them know? In fact, how many landlords would know that a building is only classed as “unoccupied” if left vacant for more than 28 days? The added risk, therefore, is not informing your insurer and potentially invalidating or prejudicing your insurance cover.
There are a number of mandatory physical security steps, including the obvious of securing the premises against illegal entry: with all windows fastened closed (or immediately boarded up or replaced if broken) and all external doors bolted from the inside, whilst access doors are locked with a 5-level mortise lock or a closed shackle padlock. It is also a requirement that all locks are changed within 7 days of becoming vacant.
If unoccupied for more than 6 months, landlords are required to seal up letterboxes, to prevent mounds of junk mail, flyers or any other combustible items adding to hazard inside. Some insurers may also require you to board up the property if it is likely to be vacant for longer periods. Some might raise an eyebrow that wood is “recommended” to secure a property, being perfect material for any arsonist, particularly as it’s already to hand on site! Further, as wood discolours, deteriorates, warps and eventually rots, it does little to assist in making vacant properties attractive to prospective tenants or purchasers – but, ironically, it does make it very attractive to the vandals, arsonists and thieves it was intended to keep out in the first place! At little more than the price of plywood – solid steel sheets, by comparison don’t burn, retain their shape and impenetrable appearance and when secured with specialist security screws – stay put on the windows until the landlord wants them off! Ask about our steel window protection, which as well as all the benefits of solid sheets, also allow light into vacant properties, so that even without electricity you can conduct viewings and help you sell or let it more quickly.