Practical Advice to Protect Unoccupied Property

FSB has recently called for business rates relief measures in response to the rising numbers of empty shops on the high street. Current estimates suggest that 10% of commercial property in the UK is now empty.

In an effort to help members who own unoccupied properties, we have compiled some practical advice to mitigate potential risks. As well as practical security measures, it is very important that you inform your insurer if your premises are going to be empty for an extended period of time, particularly if it will be more than 30 days, as any damage may not be covered otherwise.

unoccupied office space

Common Insurance Precautions

Your first precaution should be to make sure the property itself is in a good condition before you think about securing the premises, this will help demonstrate to the insurer that you are mitigating the risk.

If you are leaving your property unoccupied for an extended amount of time, keeping the heating on will help prevent issues such as burst pipes. This will also help prevent damage to the wallpaper or building’s structure. If you are still having trouble, you can protect pipes from freezing (a common cause of burst pipes) by installing Heat Tape around at-risk pipes. By demonstrating to your insurer that you are helping to prevent a claim from arising, you present a more insurable risk.

Even when a property is empty, electrical wiring must be maintained regularly. This is because unchecked, faulty wiring can cause fires. Simple things you can do to prevent this include;

  • Unplugging appliances
  • Replacing damaged cords
  • Booking regular checks from a certified electrician

For more information on your obligations regarding electrical wiring, read our blog.

It’s very important to visit your unoccupied property regularly to perform regular risk assessments so you can keep ahead of potential claims before they arise. 

locksmith working on lock

Locks

If you securely and visibly bolt down any windows, doors and garages, would-be intruders may be deterred. Again, by demonstrating that you are protecting the building, you present a more insurable risk.

If your property has frequent visitors, you should keep an eye on who has access. If you don’t have all keys accounted for or have any concerns about the security of your locks, it’s recommended that you change and update them.

Boarding up main windows can protect your property against unlawful entry.  You can use emergency timber which is relatively cheap and quick, or you can replace your windows with steel security screens. These take more time to install and are more expensive, but also a more secure option if your premises are empty for an extended period of time.

If you want more information on minimum security measures, considered essential by insurers, check out our security blog.

CCTV

In the event of a break in, catching it on camera will be helpful supporting evidence for making a claim. Cameras can also act as a visual deterrent for potential thieves, squatters or vandals.

Alarm Systems

Having a suitable alarm system should be a priority. We recommend that your alarm system is installed and maintained by a recognised installer approved by the National Security Inspectorate or the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board. They should also be recognised by your local police force.

Insurers may request one of two central station alarms; Dualcom and Redcare GSM. You can check out our security blog for more information on preferred alarm systems that may be requested by your insurer.

abandoned commercial premises

Maintaining Property Presentability

No one wants to have a property which appears to be poorly maintained next to them, as its damaging to local businesses and an eye sore in the local neighbourhood.

A property that sticks out can become a potential target for thieves, vandals and intruders. By keeping it clean yourself, hiring assistance to maintain the property, you are not only making it more attractive to potential leaseholders, but also making your property less obvious to those with ill-intentions.

Simple things can help, such as:

  • Clearing out any overgrown weeds and grass
  • Regularly collecting post
  • Litter picking on the premises

By removing potentially hazardous waste you lessen the possibility of causing harm to any passers-by, protecting yourself against Public Liability claims.

Relationships With Neighbours

If you have a good relationship with your neighbours and give them your contact information, they can report to you if they see anything unusual on the premises.

Other actions you can take to protect your unoccupied property include:

  • Health & Safety and Risk Assessments
  • You can download risk assessment templates from the Health and Safety Executive website here
  • Emptying of any Oil Tanks
  • Reduce the risk of spills if the tank is damaged while not being monitored by emptying any oil tanks you may have on the property
  • Regular Visits to your Property
  • Take time out of your week to inspect the property yourself to clean the premises or collect any potential mail, this will be a requirement

Want to discuss this further or in need of a quote? Give us a call on 020 3883 7976 from Monday-Friday, 9am-5:30pm to speak with a member of our team.