Some things to consider regarding empty properties
- Complete a health, safety and risk assessment to help identify the risks and take action to protect it
- Remove unnecessary items like furniture, packaging and waste (including hazardous waste)
- Have oil tanks emptied (if applicable)
- Disconnect or power down non-essential mains services
- Undertake regular flushing and temperature monitoring of water outlets (sinks, toilets, showers, etc.) to reduce the risk of stagnate water and Legionella growth
- Tell insurer if the premises are going to be empty for more than 30 days
- Remove any skips, empty external waste bins and move them away from the building
- Seal letterboxes or fit a metal box inside and empty it weekly
- Maintain security fences and gates
- Protect window glazing by boarding up if necessary
- Control who has access and record visitors in and out
- Change locks on doors, shutters and gates if necessary
- Prevent access for unauthorised vehicles using padlocked gates, lockable security posts or substantial lengths of concrete
- Consider employing guards or install wireless smoke, flood and intruder sensors and cameras
- If the property isn’t guarded, ensure it is visited weekly, inspected and that any necessary action to keep the property secure are taken and maintain a log of those visits for insurance purposes.
Remember under the 1957 or 1984 Occupiers Liability Act you can even be held liable for injury to trespassers on your property so you must always ensure that intruder prevention measures, such as those listed above are suitably highlighted using warning signs. Warning signs should also be displayed at all likely points of access. This might include a ‘Fragile Roof’ warning sign or an ‘Asbestos – do not enter’ warning sign.
Additionally of course since 2012 the law changed making it illegal for squatters to occupy residential buildings. This has meant that more empty commercial buildings are targeted.