How to Protect and Keep Your Vacant Property Safe
There are no empty threats when it comes to protecting your vacant property. As residents of Southend-on-Sea came to discover this last August, when squatters broke into the vacant commercial building that had once homed the popular department store, BHS.
Squatters remained in the once iconic store from the 3rd until the 22nd of August. Shockingly, the squatters weren’t actually breaking any laws, due to the building having no residential use. However, there is a law that states that in any instance of deliberate damage to a property, there are grounds for prosecution – as was the case in this instance.
Whilst this particular incident was able to highlight the need to take proper precautions when it comes to the security of vacant properties, Sgt Ian Hughes of Southend police felt the need to speak out on the matter, to emphasise the importance of securing empty commercial and residential buildings.
Know the Need for Security Before It’s Too Late
Whilst the owners’ of empty residential properties are protected by the law to some extent, empty commercial properties are not protected by the same laws, leaving them vulnerable to the incidents of squatting that happen all too frequently throughout urban towns. Unless squatters are committing any obvious acts of damage, technically, they are not on the wrong side of the law.
So, as a commercial property owner, what can you do? Whilst some property owners may look to hire a team of security staff, for many landlords, this can prove far too costly. An alternative, budget-friendly option would be to find a professional tenant for your empty property, to guarantee it is well cared for.
Straightforward Measures to Better Protect Your Property
Protecting your vacant property doesn’t have to be a stress. Here are just a few easy measures you can put in place to safeguard your empty residential or commercial building:
• Act fast, get insured! As soon as your property is vacant, it’s a legal requirement that you immediately inform your insurance providers. You may need to make changes to your policy, so take care to read them through properly. Many insurers may also insist that you carry out a weekly inspection of the property to mitigate the risk of squatters.
• Your next step should be to cut off the property’s gas and electric supplies and if necessary, drain your water systems to remove any risk of flooding.
• When you want to assess the security of your vacant property – and any risks it may be facing – why not seek the services of a professional? There are many specialist companies out there who can offer an expert risk assessment on anything from fire hazards to public liability exposure.
• Another incredibly simple step you can take is to seal your letterbox. This will prevent any build-up of mail, which will often let potential wrongdoers know that a property is vacant. It will also help to lessen the risk of any arson attacks.
• Finally, a properly fitted security alarm will not only act as a deterrent to possible squatters and criminals, but will also provide valuable evidence should your property fall victim to a break-in. A high-end security system will provide this evidence as a good alarm should keep a register of when it was set off. Don’t forget to fit a fire alarm too!
By taking just a few simple steps, you can rest assured that your vacant property is better protected and that you’ve taken action to reduce any opportunity for trouble in your neighbourhood.
Want more information? For professional advice on the best building and home insurance for you, contact us today. Speak with a friendly member of our team today on 01702 619221 or contact us online, here.