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What Is a Void Property and Why Do They Need to Be Protected?

What Is a Void Property and Why Do They Need to Be Protected?
What Is a Void Property and Why Do They Need to Be Protected?

Void properties – as opposed to vacant premises – are those without tenants, normally during the period of time between when a previous tenant leaves and a new rental agreement is entered into between the landlord and a new tenant.

There are several challenges associated with a void property, not least because rental units between tenants are normally in good condition and ready to move into, making them prime targets for thieves, vandals, fly-tippers and squatters.

Keeping a void property secure and protected is essential to landlords, preserving the value and condition of the property to prevent spiralling costs of repairs, deep cleans, legal processes and insurance claims where the premise has become exposed to crime or trespass.

Controlling the Costs of a Void Property

Landlords will usually be invested in maintaining the cleanliness and appearance of a void property since this will influence the time it takes to find a new commercial tenant. Where a void property is clean, tidy, warm and free of problems, it is considerably more appealing to prospective renters and generally easier to advertise and successfully let.

However, property owners also need to consider the costs of property maintenance when they do not have a tenant paying rent to assist with those outgoings. Costs include:

  • Basic utilities, even when the property is not in use – such as standing charges to maintain a water supply and low-level heating to prevent damp or freezing pipes.
  • Council tax and other local charges such as refuse collection.
  • Mortgage payments if the landlord has a buy-to-let business property and needs to keep pace with financing charges.
  • Insurance cover to protect against the costs of repairing environmental or accidental damage, as well as against potential costs of evicting squatters or removing graffiti.

The best way to preserve the value of a void unit and attract high-quality tenants as quickly as possible is to ensure you have the correct security safeguards in place, mitigating the risk of any damage from a break-in and presenting a high-quality property a new tenant will be happy to lease.

Why Are Void Properties at Greater Risk of Criminal Damage?

Most void properties will maintain utility supplies and other provisions, whereas a vacant or long-term empty unit will typically be disconnected. This key difference explains the vulnerability of a void property, which can attract the wrong types of attention.

While much depends on the location and nature of a void rental unit, some of the most common scenarios include:

  • Break-ins by opportunist criminals looking for fixtures and fittings, valuables, or other saleable items such as radiators, copper wiring and roof tiles.
  • Squatters taking up residence, usually breaking in through windows or doors and using the water and heating – often leaving behind hazardous waste following a potentially lengthy eviction process.
  • Vandalism and fly-tipping, where empty properties are targeted by illegal waste removers dumping old appliances and furniture, or vandals breaking in or spraying tags and other symbols on the brickwork and frontage.

There is a fine balance between ensuring a void property is available for viewings and defending the entrance points to prevent any of these – or any other possible issues – from occurring.

Best Practice in Void Property Protection

As a security specialist, Clearway can recommend the most appropriate solutions to stop your void unit from being targeted by criminals, without making the property difficult to enter or in a condition that would require additional work before a new tenant could move in.

Steel security doors and perforated screens are one of the quickest and simplest options, preventing any unauthorised intruder from accessing your property through a doorway, rear entrance or window.

Security doors can be equipped with keyless entry systems, allowing you to provide the code to approved visitors such as commercial letting agents. Still, they are impenetrable and tamper-proof for anybody without an entry code.

Clearway keyless steel security door

Perforated steel security screens are fitted over windows and doors, including wide-scale shopfronts and glazing, allowing in natural light and airflow to stop the interior from becoming damp, cold and stuffy but blocking any attempt to enter the building illegally.

Installing steel screens over windows involves the fitting of a specialist framing system, which doesn’t damage the brickwork or wood beneath, and can be easily removed on demand by our teams of security engineers.

steel security doors and screens

Security Patrols and Guarding Solutions to Protect Void Properties

Vacant property Alarm systems and commercial CCTV can act as a strong deterrent, showing that even though a property is void, it is being watched and protected by a security provider. We advise connecting your alarms and cameras to our 24/7/365 Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), which provides the peace of mind that any activation will be logged and responded to immediately.

Contacting the emergency services or deploying a security guard straight away when an alarm sounds can stop a theft or attempted break-in in its tracks, help the police apprehend the offender, and prevent any loss or damage to your premises.

Business landlords also choose to appoint security patrols or periodic inspections, presenting an ongoing on-site security presence and showing that a void property is not vulnerable or unsupervised.

Inspections are useful for various reasons, not least because they can be used to compile logs of the property condition that an insurer may require to provide ongoing coverage for a void unit.

General Tips to Keep a Void Property Safe From Intruders

Alongside physical barriers, guards, alarms and CCTV, there are several things we often suggest that can reduce the risk profile of a void property and help prevent any issues from arising.

These include:

  • Clearing junk mail promptly or forwarding mail to a previous tenant at their new address – a pile of unopened mail visible through the front door is a sure sign of a void property that has not been visited in some time.
  • Maintaining the exterior, either appointing a local contractor to carry out maintenance work or undertaking this yourself. Sweeping dead leaves, removing fly-tipped waste and litter, and trimming trees and shrubs prevents the property from appearing neglected and can avoid attracting more illegal dumping.

For more information about the most suitable ways to protect your void property, please get in touch with the Clearway team at any time to discuss your requirements. We secure, monitor and protect.

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