Vacant properties are vulnerable targets for criminal activities and pose significant security risks. It is essential to prioritise the securing of such properties to avoid potential dangers and ensure the asset complies with vacant property insurance. In this guide, we will explore the concept of vacant property security and shed light on the importance of securing vacant properties.
What is a Vacant Property?
A vacant property refers to any building, structure or area of land that is unoccupied for a certain period. This can include residential homes, commercial buildings, warehouses, industrial spaces, car parks, retail units and areas of land. Vacant properties may become unoccupied due to reasons like sale, lease, renovation, liquidation, end of tenancy or awaiting development.
Why Do Commercial Properties Become Vacant?
Commercial properties can become vacant for various reasons. Economic downturns, changes in business strategies, lease terminations, or company relocations are common factors that lead to commercial properties being left unoccupied. Additionally, legal disputes, construction delays, or building regulation breaches can also contribute to commercial property vacancies.
UK Legislation For Vacant Properties
In the UK, specific legislation exists to address issues related to vacant properties. The Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) empower the local authorities to assume control of vacant properties that remain unoccupied for a prolonged duration. This legislation ensures proper management and protection of vacant properties, preventing neglect and misuse.
Measures Businesses Can Take to Keep a Vacant Property Secure
To ensure the security of vacant properties, businesses can implement various measures, including:
- Steel Sheeting: Installing steel screens on windows and doors adds an extra layer of protection against break-ins and vandalism.
- Reinforced entrances: Reinforcing entrance points with steel doors makes it more difficult for unauthorised individuals to gain entry into the property.
- Alarm systems: Installing motion sensor alarms that detect movement within the property can immediately alert security personnel or relevant authorities, these are self-powered and can be monitored remotely.
- Secure key management: Utilising lockboxes for key storage allows authorised personnel to access the property while maintaining the security of the keys and preventing unauthorised entry.
- Vacant Property Inspections: Regular inspections to ensure the site is safe and there are no changes in structure or break ins, these are usually an insurance requirement.
- Physical Presence: Security guards or K9 units can add another level of security should the site be considered high risk or be targets for specific valuables.
- Clearances: Clearing the property of any items will make the property less desirable for thieves, it will also ensure that combustible or flammable items are removed.
- Service Drain Down: Draining down of all services ensures that the property is safe for contractors and being vacant throughout the whole year, this usually consists of isolating gas, electrical circuits and draining down the water system.
- Vehicle Restriction: Barriers of all kinds can be used to restrict access to site, this can be in conjunction with physical security or as a preventive measure to deny access for travellers.
- CCTV Towers/Signage: utilising a range of tower products we can secure large areas of external and internal space, powered with sustainable energy these towers can capture images of intruders before they reach an asset.
Why Businesses Should Secure an Empty Property
Securing an empty property is paramount for several reasons:
- Preventing vandalism and theft: Unsecured vacant properties are attractive targets for criminals seeking to cause damage or steal valuable assets. Implementing security measures acts as a deterrent.
- Avoiding legal liabilities: If someone gets injured in an unsecured vacant property, the property owner might be held accountable. Implementing security measures helps mitigate this risk and ensures the safety of visitors or trespassers.
- Preserving asset value: A well-protected vacant property is less likely to suffer damages, ensuring its market value is preserved during the period of vacancy.
- Meeting Insurance Requirements: Most insurers have set requirements for if a property is vacated, insurers will only cover properties once all measures have been adhered to.
- Community Responsibility: Often neighbouring properties will be grateful of securing an asset as it draws less attention than a vacant site, this can cause untold issues if a break in occurs and affects everyone in the surrounding area.
Ongoing Security Patrols and Perimeter Checks
In addition to physical security measures, ongoing security patrols and perimeter checks are crucial for vacant properties. These include:
- Security patrols: Regular patrols conducted by security personnel deter potential trespassers and ensure that all areas of the property are secure, these can be completed a various intervals.
- Penetration tests: Regular testing of the property’s perimeter and security measures help identify any security vulnerabilities and address them promptly.
CCTV Systems & Vacant Property
Installing a CCTV system on a vacant commercial property is generally permissible, as it can help deter vandalism, theft, and other security breaches. Our systems can also identify false activations from things like wildlife, this reduces costs for unnecessary responses by the security team.
Securing vacant properties is crucial to protect your asset, prevent crime, vandalism, and potential risks associated with unoccupied buildings. Understanding what constitutes a vacant property, the reasons behind commercial vacancies, and the relevant UK legislation is essential for property owners and businesses. By implementing measures the measures explained in this guide, businesses can protect their vacant properties. It is crucial to prioritise the security of empty properties to avoid potential dangers and safeguard valuable assets. Oculus Facilities Management can manage the whole process from beginning to end and ensure all compliance needs are met and your property is secured to the highest standards.
Glossary of Terms
Vandalism: The intentional destruction or damage to property, often resulting from unauthorised access.
Trespassing: The act of entering onto someone else’s property without permission, which is often a concern in vacant properties.
Security patrol: Regular patrols are conducted by security personnel to ensure the safety and security of the property, including deterring trespassers and monitoring for any suspicious activity.
Motion sensor alarms: Security alarms that detect motion or movement within a protected area and trigger an alert, often used in vacant properties to deter potential intruders.
Steel screens: Reinforced screens are installed over windows and doors to provide an additional layer of protection against unauthorised access and prevent break-ins.
Lockbox: A secure box used for storing keys, typically accessed only by authorised individuals, allowing for controlled access to the property while maintaining key security.
Perimeter checks: Regular inspections of the property’s perimeter to identify any security vulnerabilities and ensure that all entry points are secure.
Reinforced entrances: Strengthened and fortified entrances, often with materials like steel doors, to make it more difficult for unauthorised individuals to gain entry into the property.
CCTV monitoring: The use of closed-circuit television cameras to monitor and record activities in and around the property, providing real-time monitoring and evidence collection.
Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs): Specific legislation in the UK that allows local authorities to take control of properties that have been left vacant for an extended period, ensuring proper management and preventing neglect or misuse.
Boarding-up: The process of securing a vacant property by covering windows and doors with OSB or other materials to prevent unauthorised entry.
Squatters: Individuals who unlawfully occupy a vacant property without permission or legal right, posing potential security and legal issues.
Site security manager: The person responsible for overseeing the security of a vacant property, coordinating security measures, and implementing security protocols.
Surveillance cameras: Video cameras strategically placed to monitor property, providing visual evidence and deterrence against trespassers and criminal activities.
Access control systems: Electronic systems that regulate and control access to a property through methods such as key cards, biometric scanners, or keypad entry codes.
Security lighting: Strategically placed outdoor lighting that enhances visibility and discourages criminal activities by providing proper illumination around the property.
Security Response team: A team of trained security personnel assigned to respond to security breaches, alarms, or emergency situations at a vacant property.
Intrusion detection system: A security system that detects and alerts to unauthorised entry or intrusion attempts in real-time, often combining sensors, alarms, and monitoring software.
Vacant Property Inspections: Regular inspections of the property to identify and rectify any maintenance issues that could compromise its security or structural integrity, such as broken windows or faulty locks, leaks or signs of forced entry.
Neighbourhood watch: A community-based program where residents collaborate to monitor and report suspicious activities, assisting in the security of vacant properties within the vicinity.
By understanding these terms, you will have a more comprehensive understanding of the various aspects of vacant property security.