With a recent and controversial change in the law making squatting a criminal offence, the media has been awash with opinion pieces on the matter. Alongside all the polite debate and raging arguments, there has been a very public renewal of interest in the security of properties which are vacant, for however long and for whatever reason. Property Property Property are pleased to present the following guest post from the nice folks at Safe Site Securities, who have some advice about leaving your property vacant. Rent in London can take a chunk out of your monthly income; so you don’t want to be paying out to replace stolen objects or repair broken property.
When your property becomes vacant, it is paramount to ensure that you don’t get caught out when it comes to insurance. The majority of standard property insurance policies only continue to provide cover for a maximum of 30 days should the property become unoccupied, with the most generous policies only allowing up to 45 days.
Why is a Property Vacant?
Both residential and commercial property can become vacant for a number of reasons. It could simply be a time lapse between tenants for a landlord, or a death in the family may leave a property vacant whilst probate is administered and the property is left until prepared for re-sale, and sometimes property owners simply aren’t able to manage resulting in properties lying dormant. A job relocation could result in a property lying vacant whilst a buyer is sought, and many holiday homes are only occupied during certain times of the year. Both professional and amateur property developers regularly buy a renovation property at auction which may lie empty for many months before it is ready for occupation once more.
Why bother with Specialist Insurance?
The answer is simple – to protect your assets. Vacant properties are at constant risk from vandals, arsonists, thieves and decay. Whilst at first glance opting not to take out vacant property insurance may seem a risk worth taking, spend a few moments thinking about the consequences if something does go wrong.
Left unnoticed and not dealt with, prolonged water damage can ruin the fabric of a building. Whether the source is simply a blocked drain or missing roof tile water can quickly penetrate walls and joists potentially resulting in hefty repair bills.
Any obviously empty property offers a great temptation to both vandals and squatters. The damage caused by such criminals can be endless – from smashed doors and windows, to fires, theft of fixtures and fittings, graffiti and the build up of debris and detritus. The eviction of squatters can be both a lengthy and costly affair, and the bill from professional repairs and a thorough cleanse of a property really can run into thousands of pounds.
Conditions of Empty Property Insurance
Vacant Property Insurance comes with a host of conditions that must be adhered to for the cover to remain valid. Some of these can be considered common sense, such as ensuring adequate locks are fitted to all doors and windows. Other conditions are more extreme, such as the requirement to ensure the property is inspected on a regular basis for signs of damage, decay and developing problems, and any concerns are both recorded, reported and dealt with swiftly. There may be a requirement that surrounding land is kept maintained, as well as simple tasks such as ensuring a letter box is regularly cleared.
Call in the Specialists
If your property is to remain vacant for a long time period, it pays to call in the experts. Not only will this enable you to obtain the highest levels of vacant property insurance, it will ensure that your property is far more likely to remain safe and secure. Security specialists can not only advise on securing doors, windows and other access points effectively, they can carry out enhanced security measures such as installing steel security screens and mobile security alarms. If your empty property isn’t local to you, reputable security firms can be a god send, able to carry out professional property inspections both internally and externally weekly or bi-weekly as required by your insurance firm.
Whilst all this might seem a little extreme, in my mind it makes perfect sense. Property is money, why risk it?
Safe Site Facilities are empty property security experts, with extensive knowledge of the concerns and risks that property owners face with their uninhabited properties. SSF know that with a few simply deterrents and barriers, you could save many thousands of pounds in damages.