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With COVID-19 disrupting the daily operations of thousands of businesses across the UK, many commercial properties are now sitting empty whilst employees are working from home or on furlough.

 

Security solutions for void property
 

 

Whilst remote working is helping the nation maintain its productivity while we beat the virus, leaving your property empty could leave you at risk of crime, property damage or accidents- all of which could cost your business money and cause you infinite hassle. To help you protect your building, even when you’re not there, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 biggest threats to your void property and more importantly, how to mitigate them.

 

Crime and vandalism

Vacant properties are an attractive target for criminals, even if you’ve emptied out your assets and valuables. Never underestimate the extremes that thieves will go to in order to make a quick buck. Electrical wiring, copper piping and radiators are all considered valuable, and criminals won’t think twice about ripping apart your building and selling it for scrap. Besides break-ins and theft, void properties can also attract vandals and delinquents, who could end up causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to your building, with your business footing the bill for the repairs and cleaning.

 

How to protect your property:

  • Ensure all exit and entry points are fitted with locks or door reinforcements.
  • If you know your property will be vacant for a prolonged period, consider boarding up the windows and doors.
  • Invest in a reliable security service such as a mobile patrol, security guard, CCTV system or an alarm response service. A strong security presence will make your building a high-risk target for criminals, making them think twice before they trespass on your property.

 

Squatters

Empty properties, whether they’re residential or commercial, are a popular target for squatters. Squatting refers to the practice of occupying or living in an empty or abandoned building without the permission or knowledge of the legal owner. Even though squatting in residential properties was made illegal in 2012, occupying commercial properties is more complicated in the eyes of the law.

According to Gov.UK, being on someone’s non-residential property without their permission is not a criminal offence, but a civil offence, meaning property owners must obtain a court order and issue a claim against the squatters for eviction. If other crimes are being committed on your property such as property damage, stealing or using utilities, this could speed up the process and result in the arrest of the squatters.

 

How to protect your property:

  • Ensure your commercial property is secured and alarmed.
  • Perform regular checks on your building to look for signs of attempted entry.
  • Turn off/disconnect utilities.
  • Hire a 24/7 security guard to man the property and deter any entry.
  • Consider hiring a security patrol service to check up on the property on your behalf/ respond to any alarm activations as and when they happen.

 

Fire or water damage

Whether caused accidentally or intentionally, fire or flooding can damage your building, leaving you out of pocket and stopping your business or office from reopening when you can. During cold months, void properties are at a real risk of suffering burst pipes and water damage. Water freezes when it expands, causing your pipes to burst and leak out water when the temperatures increase. If the property is unoccupied, it could be days or even weeks until the leak is uncovered. The longer it takes for you to identify and tackle a leak, the more chance there is that the leak will cause serious structural damage.

When it comes to fire damage, it’s likely that such incidents will be caused intentionally by acts of arson or unintentionally by trespassers or squatters lighting fires or candles. Void properties are a popular target for arsonists, with around 60 fires a day occurring in or near vacant or abandoned properties in the UK.

 

How to protect your property from water damage:

  • Turn off your water supply at the mains.
  • Leave your heating on a timer to ensure your property does not reach freezing temperature.
  • Drain the water out of your heating system and turn off the water.
  • Hire a professional mobile patrol service to check up on your property regularly for leaks or burst pipes.
  • Consider investing in a key holding service, so your property is accessible 24/7 to make repairs.

 

How to protect your property from fire:

  • Make sure your property complies with fire safety regulations to avoid any liability and ensure your insurance is valid.
  • Ensure your fire alarm system is working as it should to detect any fires or smoke.
  • Consider hiring a fire watch service to monitor fire risks, adhere to fire safety best practice and to keep watch for fires on your property.

 

Loss of assets

If you’re leaving your property unattended for a short while and decide not to empty your assets, you run the risk of making your business a more attractive target for criminals and losing expensive equipment. For large office buildings, it’s simply not viable to remove all equipment, especially if you plan on returning to the office soon.

How to protect your property:

  • Ensure you secure all doors and windows on your property.
  • Register your belongings or mark them with a UV pen so they can be returned to you if stolen and recovered.
  • Set your alarm system to ensure any break-ins are detected.
  • Consider hiring an alarm response service to ensure every activation is investigated and resolved by trained professionals, minimising the hassle and danger for you and your employees.

 

Invalid insurance

If leaving a property empty for a prolonged period, you should notify your insurance company. Depending on the details of your policy, your insurance may be reduced or invalid if your property is classified as unoccupied (typically after 30-45 consecutive days empty). As empty buildings are at a greater risk of crime, damage, and decay, you may need to purchase special unoccupied property insurance to ensure your building (and its contents) are protected.

How to protect your property:

  • Contact your insurance company to find out how long your property can be left vacant before your insurance changes.
  • If you surpass this limit, ensure you update your cover; an empty building is at far greater risk than an occupied one.

 

*Bonus Tip*

Are you looking for reliable experienced security to protect your void commercial property? Get in touch with Churchill Security today. We can offer:

  • 27/7 Manned Guarding service
  • Key holding
  • Alarm response service
  • Night watch security
  • Mobile Patrol
  • Fire Watch / Fire Warden security service
  • And much more to protect your property.

 

Churchill Security is a leading cross-industry security company supplying professional and comprehensive security solutions to organisations seeking SIA-licensed Officer, CCTV & Event Security, Key Holding & Alarm Response, Mobile Patrols and Thermal Imaging & People Flow.

To find out more about how Churchill Security can protect your business, contact us today.

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John Melling is a Director for Churchill Security Ltd. John is a highly motivated, determined and decisive security industry professional. Drawing on his extensive experience gained within the security industry whilst working on the coalface John has operated at all levels within the industry. He has a proven track record for motivating and leading high performance teams and has helped mentor and develop many people at Churchill who now hold key or senior positions within the business. John is committed to delivering only the finest services, exercising compelling leadership, maintaining good internal morale and striving to resolve any challenges efficiently and effectively.