The Hidden Dangers of Vacant Properties (And How to Protect Them)

Posted on in Property Protection
Long corridor in an abandoned office building

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.

Overgrown Landscaping

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.

Steph Davies
Steph Davies
2 November 2023
I have been using Maltaward for about 12 years, mostly using their traveller eviction services. They have always been very helpful and easy to deal with. No fuss, just get the job done! More recently in my new company, I have brought them in to use utilised their vacant security services. They have worked with me to provide the correct service for our specific requirements. They have a common sense approach to everything. I really cannot recommend the team enough. They have been without a doubt the best security company I have been involved with.
Tom Lampard
Tom Lampard
2 November 2023
Everyone, and I mean everyone!, from the office team to the guys that drop the barriers, at Maltaward is very responsive, polite and genuinely helpful! I have used them at several sites and they have never let me down!
Syanne Mara
Syanne Mara
23 January 2023
Amazing service as always with a quick response time. Maltaward always have a solution to all problems and execute any works or requirements swiftly and thoroughly.
Julie Curtis
Julie Curtis
23 January 2023
Excellent product & delivery. We have ordered from Maltaward several times and we can't fault them.
21 November 2022
Quick turnaround and a good job. Many thanks .
Ian Rhoden
Ian Rhoden
26 August 2022
Great experience Keith was top-notch
Declan Goldie
Declan Goldie
9 August 2022
I have used maltaward for years. Jim has been very helpful throughout this time. Thanks
Sally Atkins
Sally Atkins
1 July 2022
Just wanted to say a big thankyou to your driver Del, although he didn’t like nettles :) he carried out the job with no bother. Would highly recommend Maltaward

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