You might think that taking care of an empty building is easy – after all, there aren’t any valuables inside and nobody is using it, so what’s to maintain?
In reality, the opposite is true. For starters, gradual disrepair is more likely to go unnoticed in a vacant property, ultimately leading to more severe problems that are difficult (and expensive) to fix. There’s also the fact that some people see an ‘abandoned’ house or commercial premises as an opportunity. Vandals, squatters, “urban explorers” and those looking to conduct more serious crimes will only be encouraged by a lack of proper maintenance.
If you’re the owner or manager of an empty unit – be it a residential block, a warehouse or a disused office – you probably want to avoid being liable for injuries, or out of pocket for damages or legal action. Here is our guide to the most likely weak spots in your empty building.
1 – Points of entry
It should be fairly obvious that windows and doors are among the most vulnerable parts of your property – they’re designed to let people in and out, after all. If your site isn’t properly monitored, you’re giving anyone that wants to break-in the opportunity to force your locks without being noticed.
Installing steel security doors and Sitex screens over windows makes it virtually impossible for these entry points to be breached without specialist equipment. They are also resistant to fire damage and brute force, which can be a weakness of conventional wooden boards.
Sitex security screens
2 – Overgrown foliage
Don’t be tempted to skip your landscaping duties just because the property isn’t being used. Overgrowth sends a clear message that nobody is tending to the property, while also making it easier for trespassers to move around without being spotted. Plants that cover paths and entrances will become a hazard for anyone that still needs to access the property, while climbing plants and roots can encourage damp and cause structural issues if left unchecked.
3 – Weather-damaged areas
Heavy rain, high winds and frosts can often cause damage to roofs and brickwork, compromising the structure and potentially letting in moisture, pests or even people. If you only check on the property sporadically, save yourself from an unpleasant surprise by scheduling a check-up before and after bad weather.
4 – Loose equipment and discarded materials
You might think that the tools or bits of rubbish that you’ve left outside the property are all worthless, but criminals see something different. Not only are those items vulnerable to theft, they can also be used to climb onto or break into your building, or encourage people to add their own waste to the pile. Don’t tempt trespassers – tidy up mess and keep any bulky items locked away in a storage container or at least hidden from view behind a MASS Screenguard.
5 – Open spaces
Overgrown foliage and a site that’s littered with debris tend to attract one type of criminal, but open spaces invite another. If you’ve got a deserted yard or field, be sure to take measures that prevent traveller invasions and fly-tipping outfits from gaining access. We recommend installing concrete barriers at intervals or as a continuous blockade to stop vehicles from driving onto your site.
6 – Dark areas
Outbuildings, storage containers and large equipment can cast shadows that make it very difficult to detect trespassers moving around the property, giving them the advantage. Reduce this cover by installing motion-sensor lights, and consider hiring a security patrol dog to sniff out and catch perpetrators.
Don’t let “out of sight” become “out of mind” when it comes to managing the security of a vacant property. If you can’t afford to check in with your empty building regularly, contact our team to find out more about our security options to help maintain your peace of mind.
At Maltaward, we offer complete protection systems for any vacant site. In addition to our preventative measures (perimeter fencing, window screens, active security guards), we have a nationwide network of fast-response teams for dealing with fly-tipping clean-up and traveller evictions. If you have any concerns about the vulnerability of your empty property, call us now.