Commercial property landlords are responsible for keeping empty premises safe and secure. Read the following advice from our experts to ensure that your commercial property security is as effective as possible.
Empty commercial property is one of the undesirable results of a recession. It mars the landscape and is also an added burden for the owner of the property. If left unmanaged, it can potentially lose a significant amount of its value.
In addition, commercial property landlords have legal responsibilities for keeping premises safe in order for their empty property insurance to remain valid according to PropertyInsure.co.uk.
The problem of vacant commercial property in the UK
In 2012, UK commercial property had a value of £569bn. However, the VPS reports that over the past two or three years, vacant commercial properties have significantly increased in number. It is estimated that as much as 10% of the UK’s commercial property is empty currently. The average vacancy rate for the leading 650 British retail centres is an astounding 14.1%.
Landlords hope to get their commercial property re-occupied as soon as possible once a previous tenant has moved out. However, just finding a new tenant is not the only thing that is involved. There is often maintenance and repair work that needs to be done. There could also be delays in paperwork being finalised which can contribute to the property remaining empty for some time.
Empty commercial property insurance responsibilities
If a property remains vacant or unused for a specified length of time, the landlord is expected to notify his insurer (the specific period of time will depend on the insurer. It may range from 30 to over 60 days). If the landlord fails to do this, the insurer can refuse a future claim. The owner’s insurance policy will state what needs to be done in order to sustain policy. It may include things like inspecting the premises on a regular basis, arranging to remove waste and turning the gas off.
Empty buildings have increased risks associated with them. Landlords should consult with their insurance provider as soon as possible in order to receive guidance on what can be done to lower the risk for damage.
Key actions that can be taken for protecting vacant commercial property
- Conduct a health, safe and risk assessment in order to identify any risks that may be present and take action to correct them.
- Have any unnecessary items removed such as waste (includes hazardous waste), packaging and furniture.
- Empty oil tanks.
- Isolate the electricity, gas and water supplies.
- Inform your insurer whenever the premises will be empty for longer than 30 days.
- Empty outside waste bins and take them off of the premises. Also remove any skips.
- Seal letterboxes or have a metal box fitted inside. Empty the box every week.
- Maintain security gates and fences.
- Board up window glazing if necessary in order to protect it.
- Record any visitors going in and out and control access.
- If necessary, change locks on gates, shutters and doors.
- Prevent unauthorised vehicles from gaining access through the use of lengths of concrete, lockable security posts or padlocked gates.
- Consider hiring guards or installing wireless intruder, flood and smoke cameras and sensors.
- If the property is unguarded, make sure it is inspected on a weekly basis and that any any necessary steps are taken to ensure that the property remains secure.