We are finding an increasing number of drivers that are contributing to the number of vacant commercial properties in the UK. While the number of vacant commercial properties recently reached its lowest figure since 2009, the number remains relatively high when compared to the trends pre-financial crisis. Employers are also experimenting increasingly with flexible and mobile working practices which has reduced their need for physical working space. Finally, the retail industry continues to transition to a market dominated by e-commerce.
MANAGING VACANT PROPERTY
There are clear responsibilities for landlords who manage unoccupied property – commercial or residential. To comply with their insurance policy terms, landlords must ensure that they are doing everything they can to protect and manage their vacant property. This means assessing the risk for each property and implementing the relevant security and protection measures.
The lack of a regular presence in vacant properties leaves a number of vulnerabilities that have financial, legal and health & safety implications. Some of the key risks to vacant property – outlined here – include vandalism, arson, trespass and theft.
Securing vacant property can take a number of forms. Standard precautions involve isolating all services, draining the water system, permanently sealing all letter boxes, clearing waste and combustible materials from inside and outside the building. Furthermore there are a number of countermeasures which companies like Oakpark Security can implement to reduce the vulnerabilities to these properties, including wireless cameras, smoke detectors and intruder alarms.
Most insurance firms will also require regular inspections of such properties. These inspections should be electronically verified and should include photographic evidence of access points and utilities meters. Frequency should range from weekly to monthly, although we always recommend the former.
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