In the world of real estate, there are times when a building is vacant between tenants. As a property owner, it is in your best interest to protect your vacant commercial property as it waits for new renters to arrive. Insurance risks and liabilities associated with a vacant property can be extensive. Understanding the risks involved is important to keeping your property safe and sound.
Potential Risks of Vacant Commercial Properties
A property is considered vacant when tenants have left the premises and all property is removed from the building. Vacant buildings are a target for trespassing, vandalism, and theft. In addition to property loss and damage, owners of the building can be held responsible for any criminal activities or accidents that occur on the premises.
With a lack of security, buildings are targets for:
- Copper pipes and other fixtures inside the building
- Graffiti, broken windows, or other vandalism
- Underage parties or areas for homeless individuals to take shelter
- Fires can break out due to arsonists, faulty wiring, or trespassers irresponsible with a lit cigarette
- Water damage can occur from inclement weather and issues with pipes or plumbing
What measures can a property owner take to prevent these issues?
Not all accidents are preventable. There are preventative measures to put in place to help safeguard the exterior of a commercial property.
- Keep the property clear of trash, debris, cardboard, overgrown weeds, and landscaping. Not only will this help the property look cared for on a regular basis, but it will prevent the flames from spreading if a fire should break out.
- Shrubs should be trimmed away from windows and doors. They provide a great hiding place for trespassers if left unattended. Keeping these areas clear will eliminate hiding places.
- Winterize and weatherproof pipes. Keeping the pipes prepared for cold weather by turning off the water. This will preventing burst pipes and potential water damage.
- Install outdoor floodlights. These lights can run on timers, or even be triggered by movement on the property.
- If your property is out of state, hire a property management company that works in the area to help maintain and keep the property safe.
Inside the building requires different types of protection.
- While it seems obvious, keeping doors and windows locked securely is the first step to protect your property from trespassers. Many smart home devices can provide security alarms that trigger when a door or window is opened, sending a signal to your cell phone as well as the authorities.
- Using the same smart device, set lights to turn on and off on timers.
- If possible, make friends with the neighbors. Friendly neighbors in the buildings next door can help keep an eye on the property when you can’t be there. Share contact information and let them know they have permission to contact you if anything peculiar happens near the property.
- Verify that your insurance policy covers vacant buildings and damage that occurs during a vacancy.
- Check for any structural damage including water leaks or potential for flooding by leaky roofs or windows.
Despite the best planning possible, accidents can happen. If water or fire damage reaches your commercial property before new tenants take over the building, McMahon Services water and fire restoration experts are standing by to work on your property.
Call us today for more information or visit our website and see what we can do for you and your commercial building.