Posted on: 16 October 2018

How to protect your unoccupied property

Property owners can often have unoccupied estate for a variety of reasons. Whether this is through eviction or tenants moving away, there are several risks and liabilities that a landlord or owner needs to be aware of, in the event of their property becoming unoccupied.

Potential Risks

The primary risks associated with an unoccupied property are theft, trespassing and vandalism. As the property is unguarded, thieves are more likely to see unoccupied property as an easy target. Although squatting is a criminal offence, an unoccupied property is more likely to be susceptible to unlawful tenants. A property owner can also be held liable for accidents or criminal activities that may happen on the premises, therefore it is vital to check with your insurer or insurance broker if your premises are covered.

Unoccupied properties are also more likely to suffer from fire damage, water damage, electrical damage or mould due to no one being available to detect an issue, whereas if there was a tenant present, these issues would be detected.

Environmental hazards should also be taken into consideration, so chemicals or other pollutants should always be stored securely. Again, owners will be liable for any accidents or illegal activities, including environmental pollution.

Ways to Lower Risk

Whilst having insurance can cover you for an insured event, taking simple steps can help to moderate risk. Some of these steps can include:

  • Maintaining an ‘occupied’ look. Making the property look as though it is inhabited will deter thieves and squatters. Mow the lawn, open or close curtains or even just making regular visits will create the illusion of occupancy.
  • Protect visitors. A property owner will be responsible for any accidents that occur on site, so it is important to make sure that property is free from anything that may cause harm to visitors. You will be held responsible for any injury to unwanted visitors such as squatters, but there may also be unexpected , legitimate visitors to your property, such as police officers or maintenance workers.
  • Avoid damage. Making regular visits to the property is not only to deter unwelcome visitors, but is also an opportunity to inspect the property for damage. Inspecting the property for mould or damage is a great way of keeping your property in a good state of repair, and checking smoke detectors or fire alarm systems ensures that a signal can be raised in the event of a fire.

Insuring Residential Properties

Most properties will be covered for 30 days of being unoccupied, but most policies will not be valid for any period of time after that. Some policies may extend to 60 days, so it is worth checking with your insurer or insurance broker to make sure you are covered. Many insurers will insure unoccupied property, but it is important to let them know when purchasing a policy.

Protecting your property

Whether you own residential buy to let, commercial property or student let property, you want to make sure that your buildings are protected, as they can represent a significant source of income. For more information about property insurance and other strategies to help protect your assets and mitigate loss, speak to an insurance adviser today at Premierline.

Source: Zywave Inc. Property Management Risk Insights: Protecting Unoccupied Property

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