Empty buildings are often mistakenly believed as easy to take care of, when the reality is anything but. Just because there are far fewer valuables inside, nothing to maintain, and no people coming and going doesn’t mean that vacant properties should be regarded as ‘zero-risk’.
Should Empty Properties Cause Security Concerns?
The sight of a vacant, run-down building can initiate a range of different thoughts. Some may see it – and its gradual disrepair – as an eyesore, others as wasted potential, and others may even not notice it. To the more adventurous, it could look like an intriguing spot for urban exploration.
But as a property owner, manager, or caretaker, an unoccupied or seemingly abandoned building should raise more practical concerns around liability, damage, and loss of value. Not only that, but an evident lack of upkeep can only encourage criminal behaviour, such as vandalism, squatting, or fly-tipping.
When maintenance and care become less frequent, the structural integrity and security of a vacant property become compromised in ways that soon escalate into substantial problems, proving difficult and costly to fix.
Let’s examine some of the most common vulnerabilities of vacant properties, and key tactics to safeguard them.
Common Weak Points in Empty Buildings and How to Address Them
Easy Entry Points
With no occupants or activity, vacant properties become attractive targets for vandals, squatters, and thieves looking to force open doors or windows to gain access. Over time, unchecked forced entry can degrade locks, frames, and other components of windows and doors that should otherwise be reliable and resilient.
Installing heavy-duty steel security doors, mesh guards for windows (like Sitex screens), and other reinforced access points thwarts unwanted visitors through brute strength and stealth tactics. Fortified barriers also provide fire and weather protection.
When gardens and grounds are left untended around vacant buildings, they send a clear message – no one cares about this property and is actively keeping on top of it. Overgrowth also provides more accessible cover for trespassers while posing safety hazards from poor visibility, slippery walkways, and invasive plants causing damp and structural damage.
Whether tackling the workload directly or hiring landscaping help, keep vegetation trimmed back from entryways and access routes. For longer stretches of zero occupancy, focus on hardy, slow-growth flora that stands the test of time and proves less destructive.
Extreme Weather Exposure
Prolonged absence combined with severe storms, dramatic temperature swings, and precipitation can accelerate wear and tear on roofs, exteriors, windows and foundations. Small issues manifest into leaks, flooding, burst pipes, and pest infestations, as well as highly problematic collapsed sections if not addressed promptly.
Weather damage also weakens the frontline security layers of a building and makes it easier for people to opportunistically gain access and possibly reside unlawfully in your premises for shelter.
Schedule regular visual inspections and stay vigilant. The last thing you want is to come back to the property after a time away to find it in an irreparable state. Consider installing cameras, smart water sensors and remote monitoring systems to gain complete visibility of the property while you’re away.
Discarded Materials & Debris
Tools, equipment, and general debris that accumulate in gardens or communal storage areas present several risks. Items invariably get stolen and used for illegal activity like breaking into the property, while also encouraging people to add their own rubbish to an expanding pile.
Keep properties clean and free of publicly accessible equipment or rubbish that could attract troublemakers. Invest in locked storage or conceal them from view using reliable screening solutions like fencing or barriers like MASS Screenguards. Consider establishing a frequent waste removal schedule as well.
Open, Unmonitored Spaces
For vacant commercial buildings with adjoining vacant land or cleared lots, large open areas summon problems with unauthorised traveller camps and illegal dumping. Once trespassers gain access, removal becomes even more difficult to navigate.
Erect perimeter barrier fencing with padlocked drive-through gates to contain sprawling properties. Strategically place trenches, berms, bollards and concrete security barriers to eliminate vacant space accessible to large vehicles.
Poorly Lit Areas
Shadowy corners, concealed alcoves near buildings, and gaps between exterior structures or storage containers offer concealment for unwanted loitering, camps, and plotting.
Install exterior lighting on timers or motion sensors for cost-effective visibility and surveillance. Unpredictable illumination keeps trespassers guessing and exposed. Optional security patrols with dogs provide much-needed additional oversight against risky blind spots.
Protect Your Unoccupied Property With Quality Security Solutions
The bottom line is that “out of sight” cannot mean “out of mind” for vacant property management security. But with proactive safeguards, owners and caretakers can effectively mitigate liability, damages and attrition from neglect.
At Maltaward, we offer vacant property protection systems for any vacant site. In addition to our preventative measures, we also have a nationwide network of fast-response teams for dealing with fly-tipping clean-up and traveller evictions. For further information, call us now.