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How can you protect a vacant property from intruders?

20th September 2023

by Nick Motby, Account Executive at COHIBL

Being a landlord can be demanding at the best of times, but when you find yourself in a position that one of your properties becomes vacant, and you are looking to safeguard your property, this in itself can bring its own set of challenges.

An unoccupied property, or vacant property, can be a target from a variety of individuals, from thieves or opportunists looking to make quick money from materials on or within the property, squatters looking for shelter, youths looking for somewhere to hang out at night with friends, or simply vandals looking to cause damage to your property.

There are some measures which you can take in order to try and reduce your exposure to these threats: –

Security systems: especially when your property is empty, it is important to ensure that you are making use of your alarms, window and doors locks, and keeping any keys out of sight.  Motion sensor lighting above doors and garage doors can also help to deter people from trying to gain entry to your property.  You should also consider removing anything from the property that doesn’t need to be there, particularly if it will be vacant for some time.  This might include the removal of personal possessions, but you may also want to consider removal of other items of value that might be a target, such as copper piping or other materials.

Regular property maintenance: if possible, you should try and ensure that the property is being visited regularly, whether this be by a security individual, or even a neighbour.  Not only will this potentially make it look like the property is still being used, particularly for a residential property, but it could also potentially help to identify early any problems such as leaks or vandalism.  Another tip is to try and ensure that any garden areas do not become overgrown, and do not allow waste to pile up.

Utilities: it is important to maintain heating systems, especially during the winter months, to avoid burst pipes due to freezing temperatures.  If you know in advance that the property will be vacant for some time, you may wish to consider turning off utilities, turning off stopcock and draining heating systems.

What about insurance for my vacant property?

Due to the increased exposure an empty property presents, most insurers will give you a maximum of 30 days on a full peril basis, once a property becomes unoccupied.  After this timeframe, insurers will then look to reduce their exposure and perils are usually restricted to Fire, Lightening, Aircraft & Explosion. In addition to reducing your cover, insurers will also apply a number of conditions to the policy. For example, this could be ensuring that all utilities are turned off at the mains or simply a condition that you must visit the property at least once a week and a record kept of the visit.

Once an insurer reduces their perils and restricts the basis of cover, the landlord is then left exposed to a number of potentially costly eventualities. Fortunately, help is at hand and we are delighted that we have access to a panel of insurers who specialise in offering cover above and beyond what is available from most composite insurers. With our experience in this field, we are not only able to help with insuring the unoccupied property on a full peril basis (subject to policy conditions), but we can also assist you in making sure the property is adequately secured. We believe that a preventative approach to securing your empty property is a much better alternative than having to spend time sorting out the aftereffects of a loss once it has occurred.  At COHIBL we have the benefit of our very own Risk Management team who have a wealth of knowledge and experience and are always on hand to ensure that your asset is protected at all times.

If you are looking for someone to guide you through these complex matters, or you would simply like to know more information relating to this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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