What Are the Best Practices for Securing Vacant Properties Against Vandalism and Theft?

March 10, 2024

Just because a property is vacant does not mean it should be left unprotected. Whether you own a rental property that is currently without tenants, or you have a building that is unoccupied due to renovations or sale, you need to ensure that it is secure from vandalism, theft and even accidental damage. But how do you keep your property safe when there’s no one around? This article sheds light on the best practices for securing vacant properties against potential risks.

Understand the Risks

Before you can start protecting your property, you need to understand the potential risks that come with leaving a building vacant. Unoccupied properties are enticing targets for thieves, vandals, and squatters. They may also be more susceptible to accidents like fire or water damage, simply because there’s no one around to notice and prevent these incidents in their early stages.

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Moreover, damage to a vacant property can go unnoticed for weeks or even months, leading to potentially extensive and costly repairs. Vacant properties can also present a liability risk, in case someone enters the property and gets injured. Being aware of these risks is the first step towards mitigating them.

Secure the Property Physically

One of the most effective ways to deter potential intruders is to make the property seem less attractive to them. This means securing all potential points of entry, such as doors and windows, with robust locks and, if necessary, security bars.

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Consider boarding up any ground floor windows or other easily accessible points to deter break-ins. It’s also a good idea to maintain the exterior of the property, including landscaping, as a well-maintained property will indicate that it is monitored and less likely to be an easy target.

In some cases, it may be necessary to erect a security fence around the property, especially if it is a commercial building or a property located in an area with high rates of vandalism and theft.

Install a Security System

Installing an alarm system is one of the most effective methods of securing a vacant property. This could be a simple burglar alarm or a more complex system that includes fire and flood alarms as well. The aim is to alert you or a security company as soon as possible if there’s a problem, enabling a swift response.

Modern security systems can provide remote monitoring via smartphone apps, allowing you to keep an eye on your property from anywhere in the world. Some systems also offer the ability to remotely control lights and other appliances, helping to create the impression that the building is occupied.

Regular Inspections

Regular inspections are an important part of vacant property security. By visiting the property regularly, you can spot any signs of damage or intrusion early on, before they develop into more serious problems.

During these inspections, check for signs of forced entry, as well as any damage that could have been caused by weather or pests. It’s also a good idea to take photographs during each visit, so you have a record of the property’s condition.

Insure Your Property

Even with all these precautions, it’s still possible for something to go wrong. That’s when insurance comes into play. Vacant property insurance, also known as unoccupied property insurance, can provide coverage for a range of potential risks, including vandalism, theft, fire and water damage.

It’s important to note that standard home or building insurance policies may not provide adequate coverage for a property that is vacant for an extended period. Therefore, be sure to discuss your needs with your insurance provider to make sure you have the right level of coverage.

Vacant properties pose unique challenges when it comes to security. But by understanding the risks, taking steps to deter potential intruders, installing a security system, carrying out regular inspections, and ensuring you have the right insurance coverage, you can protect your property and your peace of mind.

Develop a Property Management Strategy

Having a comprehensive property management strategy in place is essential for property owners to safeguard their vacant buildings. This strategy should encompass regular inspections, maintenance work, and surveillance measures that aid in warding off potential threats. The goal is to make the property seem not only occupied but also well-maintained and monitored.

Regular inspections by property management or security personnel can unearth any issues early, such as signs of break-ins, pest invasions or weather-induced damages. This process should ideally be documented with date-stamped photos during each visit to record the condition of the property. This visual evidence can be crucial in case of any insurance claims or legal matters.

Maintenance work should not be delayed as it can lead to a dilapidated look that could attract vandals or thieves. The upkeep of the property, especially the outer areas and landscaping, sends a strong message that the place is not abandoned.

Surveillance measures can range from a traditional alarm system to advanced remote monitoring solutions. You must install a security system that’s most suited to the property’s requirements. For vacant commercial properties, a more sophisticated setup with intrusion alarms, fire and flood alarms, and CCTV cameras might be necessary.

Also, consider collaborating with your local police department or a private security company. Inform them about the property vacant status and request regular patrols. This will not only deter potential trespassers but also ensure swift response in case of any untoward incidents.

Conclusion: Secure, Inspect, Insure

Securing vacant properties against vandalism and theft demands a proactive approach. As a property owner, you should understand the unique risks associated with leaving a building vacant and adopt effective security measures accordingly.

Physically securing the property is paramount. This includes installing robust locks, security bars, and perhaps a security fence if needed. Additionally, the property should not project an image of being abandoned. Regular maintenance and well-kept premises make it less attractive to potential intruders.

Investing in a good security system is highly recommended. Modern systems offer remote monitoring and control of lights and appliances, which can create the illusion of occupancy.

Regular inspections should form the backbone of your property management strategy. Spotting and addressing issues early can save you from more serious problems down the line.

Last but not least, ensure the property is adequately insured. Standard insurance policies may not provide sufficient coverage for a vacant property. Discuss your needs with your insurance company and consider opting for unoccupied property insurance.

In summary, a well-secured vacant property is a result of understanding the risks, taking necessary security precautions, conducting regular inspections, and obtaining appropriate insurance coverage. Following these best practices can provide property owners peace of mind, knowing their investment is well-protected.