If your commercial property is vacant, even for a short while before the new tenants move in, you’ll be aware of the risks involved.
You’ve made sure that everything is closed up tight, like a clam shell. You have CCTV and an alarm in place, so you’ve protected the building against possible damage or intrusion. Job done, in fact. Or, maybe not. Securing the building, although critical, is the early preparation of the blank canvas, and there needs to be a much fuller picture.
Protect your investment, save money and have the peace of mind you deserve, knowing that all is well with your property – especially if you live, or the property is managed from, some distance away.
This article covers what’s involved in Property Inspections and why they must be a critical part of your safeguarding strategy as a landlord or a site manager.
Reduce the Risk
This is one job that Artificial Intelligence can’t do.
Should your premises be empty, regular inspections by a qualified professional are a must-have; someone with meticulous attention to detail who knows what to look for.
Otherwise, without this essential human touch, you could be storing up a whole heap of trouble:
The property could degrade and fall into disrepair as problems go unnoticed and unrecorded, especially during winter months. And, you could put authorised personnel accessing it at serious risk. Also, one neglected breach could lead to several more until you have a full-on commercial squatting problem. Then there’s the danger of fire or flooding. Vandals, too. Plus, you will need to put in place strict security measures, including regular assessments, for your insurance policy. More on this later.
Property inspections are proactive. They give you advance notice of any problems before they cause significant, not least significantly expensive, issues.
Scrutiny on Your Security – In a Nutshell
Having identified and analysed the specific threats and issues associated with the property in question, Clearway customises inspections to meet the needs of your unoccupied factory, warehouse, retail premises, offices, and residential properties when required.
This is a bespoke service, as specific risks may be associated with a particular size, type, building use or location of the structure. We carry out thorough inspections based on nationwide best practice standards.
Inspections can be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly – with checks made to the inside and outside of the building. These are in-depth and comprehensive. They take nothing for granted.
External checks. Security personnel will look out for any signs of:
- Break-ins or attempted intrusions
- Tampering with security measures, including attempts to disable CCTV systems, steel security doors, or hoardings.
- Rubbish and fly-tipping
- External property maintenance issues
- Anti-social behaviour, such as vandalism or graffiti
- Damage to the perimeter
- Weather damage
- Potential hazards
- Damage to the surrounding land
Internal checks. These include, but aren’t limited to, checks on:
- Possible occupation by squatters, which is still legal
- Build-ups of rubbish or junk mail (which they can remove)
- Water leaks and dampness
- Internal maintenance issues
- Infestation by vermin
- The condition and security of locks on all entry points
- Letterboxes, to ensure that they are sealed
- Keyholding to ensure that the property is secured against illegal entry
Every aspect of the property inspection is recorded, and if something is amiss, the property inspector will ensure the details and recommendations for remedial action are clear and marked for urgent attention. For example, they may advise replacing or boarding up broken windows, identify damaged access points, recognise any areas that need repair, and highlight any signs of intruders.
Worst case scenario: There could be legal battles or insurance claims, and proof of the presence of a security professional, as well as “before” and “after” photographs, will be crucial. So, the reports in question are meticulous, with exhaustive checklists showing every aspect of the inspection.
Security staff will also keep detailed time-stamped logs for each inspection and provide photographic evidence of the visit. In addition, they will take gas, water and electricity readings. Also, there will be a scheduled date for the next visit.
Prevention – Better Than Cure
In our experience, in the case of property inspections, the “cure” could be much more damaging, costly and dangerous than the “prevention”. So, why are property inspections so important?
Insurance companies are not one hundred percent keen to offer cover for vulnerable vacant properties due to high-risk factors.
Proving to your insurer that you have set up solid security measures – including documented proof of regular inspections, will ensure that you are fully compliant and remain wholly protected. Indeed, recurring evaluations are likely to be a requirement in your policy. You will be “doing your bit” to protect your property and insurance companies rather like that.
In an ideal world, you would meet and exceed your insurance obligations to reduce the worry of a building say two hundred miles away. Why? Because not only is this a good feeling, but your premiums could also be more comprehensive and more affordable.
Regular inspections are an excellent way to get ahead of possible problems – and should they occur, deal with them before they escalate.
A minor issue can be dealt with pre-emptive action, thus shrinking it. But, a bigger problem could pose major difficulties. Or become insurmountable and extremely expensive.
For instance, an unattended property could attract intruders keen to repeat entry attempts again and again until they succeed. Or, falling masonry due to bad weather may injure authorised personnel. Used with CCTV, forward-thinking visits by trained security guards could keep you ahead of the game.
Meet Your Duty of Care
To expand on the above, as a property owner, your duty of care regarding your commercial premises extends to visitors – any visitor. You may be surprised. This stipulation includes unauthorised people, such as squatters and burglars, and those with a right to be there.
You are legally obliged to ensure that anyone in, around or on your property is not at risk. Otherwise, litigation, or worse, may be the result.
Generally, consistent inspections will save you money. As well as pinpointing the areas that require prompt maintenance before they become eye-wateringly unaffordable, spotting signs of an intrusion enables you to minimise any damage that has been done.
Your insurance premiums could be lower, and you won’t be at risk of not being covered. Plus, you can hopefully avoid court action with robust duty of care measures in situ.
What We Think
Are monthly or weekly visits to your property an extra cost? Yes, of course.
Nevertheless, contracting this essential role to a professional security company is, in our view, highly cost-effective and, in many cases, a requirement of your commercial insurance policy. By comparison, the cost of not committing to regular property inspections, well, they’re not worth thinking about. Can you NOT afford to do this?