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Empty property? What are the risks?

You might think that an empty property poses less risk than one that’s occupied: less contents, no risk of damage by occupants. But sadly, this is not the case.

The risk to vacant property by malicious damage, squatters and structural damage is increasing.1 Commercial properties are emptying at an alarming rate. The number of shops lying empty soared by more than 7,500 last year, according to new data that lays bare the crisis on the high street.2

Helpful tips for securing vacant property

You could reduce the risks to your vacant property by taking a few simple steps. These tips could help you protect your property from malicious or structural damage:

Check your locks and security systems: Check your property has working security alarms and secure windows and doors. Your insurer may also require further security such as CCTV.

Disconnect utilities: Reduce the risk of gas and water leaks by disconnecting supplies from the source.

Remove combustibles: 9000 fires occur in empty buildings across the UK.3 By removing all combustible materials, you could help to minimise the risk of your vacant property being targeted for arson.

Cut back your hedges: Trim any overgrown hedges to make the building more visible to passers-by. This will make your building seem more exposed and less of a target for break-in or malicious damage.

Visit your property: Visit once a week so that you can deal with any structural issues and you can report any malicious damage as soon as possible.

Risks to people

As a property owner, you also have a duty of care to anyone who enters your building, whether they have permission or not.
Carrying out a risk assessment will help avoid the risks to the building itself and anyone who enters the property.

Your risk assessment should ensure compliance with:

  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
  • Health and safety legislation
  • Environmental legislation
  • Public liability legislation4

What this means for your insurance

Insurance companies see vacant property as high risk. This means insurance for vacant properties can actually cost more, than for properties with a tenant. If you don’t tell your insurer when your property becomes vacant you could risk future claims being invalid.

do you own an empty building

Our experts can help you with any queries you have about your vacant property.

Sources:

[1] https://www.axaconnect.co.uk/news/2017/managing-empty-buildings/

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/may/02/thousands-of-uk-shops-left-empty-as-high-street-crisis-deepens

[3] https://businessnewswales.com/empty-buildings-derserves-more-attention-in-the-housing-market/

[4] https://www.bsia.co.uk/Portals/4/Publications/106-guide-to-vacant-property-security.pdf

 

 

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