As a commercial property landlord, you have a responsibility to keep any vacant sites safe and secure. An unoccupied property can be an attractive target for vandals, squatters and other criminals. Here we take a look at how you can keep a vacant property secure.
The risks of abandoned commercial property
Where a vacant property is left unprotected even a small problem can quickly escalate. For instance, one broken window can soon lead to further damage, vandalism or people entering the site.
The main risks associated with abandoned commercial properties are arson, theft, squatters and damage from burst pipes.
Around a third of fires in non-residential buildings are caused deliberately. It is also one of the key reasons for insurance claims, so it’s important to protect your vacant site. This includes adequately securing the premises in the first place to prevent trespassers from accessing it. It’s also necessary to remove any waste or combustible materials from the site to reduce the risk of a fire starting.
The next biggest risk for an abandoned commercial property is the issue of theft. If the premises are not secured and there are valuable items inside, the site can quickly be targeted by thieves. They are often looking for items of scrap metal or other goods of value, such as architectural items. Ensuring the building is locked correctly and the use of perimeter fencing to limit the problem of thefts.
Squatters in commercial properties
Where you need to evict squatters from a commercial site it can become an expensive and time-consuming process. There are not only the costs of the squatter eviction to consider but also the cost of carrying out repairs, cleaning up afterwards and securing the property. It can take a number of months to put right the damage caused by squatters and re-let the building.
Damage from burst pipes
Another issue when you have a vacant commercial property is that they can be more susceptible to damage from burst pipes. When there is nobody in the building for long periods of time, small leaks and drips can go unnoticed. There are special sensors available to detect floods and changes in water flow within vacant properties.
Injuries to a third party
Whether or not a third party accesses your site legally, the landlord could still be liable for damages if they are found to be negligent. The main way of reducing this risk is to prevent access to the site in the first place. Conduct a risk assessment of the site and take the appropriate steps to prevent accidents.
Why keep a vacant property secure?
There are risks associated with all buildings, but more so when the premises are empty and not in use. It remains the responsibility of the landlord to keep the site safe and will be a condition of their insurance.
A risk assessment
Before a commercial property is left empty it’s important to conduct a thorough risk assessment of the site. This will highlight any potential risks, including entry points and structural issues, and enable you to plan adequate protection. For instance, are you aware of any combustible materials on the site or how to protect the site from arson.
Maintenance of a vacant commercial site
Even with an abandoned commercial property essential maintenance still needs to be carried out. This includes isolating any unrequired services, draining fuel tanks and removing any loose items before securing the premises. With the exterior of the property the appearance should be maintained regularly to not look neglected.
If you are looking for advice on security at a vacant commercial site or you need to evict squatters contact The Bailiff Company for help.