Void properties – How to avoid them becoming a huge expense

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The last thing anyone needs is for an empty property to suddenly become an unexpected additional problem or expense. But that’s exactly what can happen if they are not secured or monitored adequately.

When a building becomes vacant it can be some time in today’s economic environment before a new tenant is found. While the building sits vacant it will remain an expense for the owner – but a known and predictable one. It will be an asset which is not generating revenue while it is vacant, but which still requires maintenance.

However, intrusion into the building by criminals or vandals can result in an unwelcome bill for repair to damage, or replacement of stolen items. If the building is targeted by squatters – which is increasingly common with vacated commercial properties – there will be the additional challenge of legally removing the squatters, and then repairing any damage done to the property, or replacement or stripped assets. It should be remembered that some insurers stipulate that if premises are vacant for as little as 30 days or more in a year, then adequate security measures must be in place for their policies to be valid.

It is also worth considering the impact on neighbouring businesses on an estate should a vacant premises be targeted. Will they feel more vulnerable as a result? Will their reputation suffer if they are sited next to a damaged or vandalised property, or one which has become home to squatters? Will they be tempted to move on, leaving you with another vacant premises headache?

So the choice for owners of vacated premises is simple; put in place a regime to ensure they are well protected, or take a potentially expensive gamble that they won’t be targeted.

Adopting an adequate strategy for securing a void property will depend on the building’s location, type, and value. Ensuring the property has adequate physical protection – strong locks, boarded windows, bars on windows, clear signage – will deter the opportunist criminal. Deterring the more committed and skilled criminal requires a little more effort. On-site guards or frequent patrols, CCTV and wireless intruder detection systems are undoubtedly effective. If you already have security in place at your site, more focus on vacated premises will be needed. If you don’t, an investment in security will help to avoid huge potential expense, inconvenience and damage to reputation should a building be targeted.

As published in PFM Magazine www.pfmonthenet.net/

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