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What is Vacant Property Security?

What is Vacant Property Security?
What is Vacant Property Security?

We’ve put together one of our “essentials” blogs: full of clear, jargon-free information about keeping the buildings you own or manage, the assets in them, and the people who may access them safe and free from harm.

Welcome to vacant property security – streamlined.

Your Building is at Risk

You know already that your vacant property is a magnet – and not in a good way.

Unoccupied buildings are catnip to vandals, thieves, squatters, fly-tippers, and the like. Not least, to what have become known as “urban explorers” – people whose spare time involves getting into off-limits or unused properties as a hobby. Equally, they’re a klaxon to criminals; summoning all comers to a perfectly unhindered space for criminal activity – at least for a while.

Plus, there are risks of water damage, flooding and fire.

Here’s the lowdown on vacant property security. What it is, how it works, and how it plays a crucial role in supporting the property sector.

In a Nutshell

Think: Three Ds

Deter, Deny, and Detect. And, we’re adding something here, although it’s somewhat clichéd: peace of mind.

Vacant property security protects your investment in a commercial or residential building through a wide range of tailored measures to suit its size, location, age, structure and use.

It combines a range of services with exceptional, cutting-edge technology

With many benefits, this type of protection works as hard as you do.

Delivered to high standards, vacant property security monitors and maintains premises, deterring intrusion, criminal activity and anti-social behaviour. Also, it ensures the safety of third parties entering the premises: estate agents, surveyors, and employees. Not least children, whose safety is paramount; blocking them from entry most likely saves countless young lives.

Likewise, it can prevent property damage and deterioration whilst also protecting the building from fire (either deliberate or accidental), flooding and burst water pipes.

Plus, it ensures ongoing compliance with your property insurance.

Empty shops, offices, and industrial premises quickly become vulnerable, even if they are vacant for just a short time for refurbishment, say, or before a sale. They get noticed and invite trouble. So, vacant property security is vital. Why? Because not only does it protect bricks and mortar, it goes a lot further: it looks after people.

It safeguards the wider community, upholding standards and looking after areas as decent places to live and work.

Who Uses Vacant Property Security?

Perhaps you recognise yourself here:

  • Property and facilities managers
  • Social housing providers
  • Property investors and developers
  • Commercial and residential landlords
  • Landowners
  • Insolvency practitioners
  • Construction businesses

Vacant Property Security – What Does It Involve?

Very few buildings are identical.

Therefore, protecting unoccupied commercial properties is multi-faceted.

It involves several types of technology and a broad range of services. The expertise here is about understanding how and where to deploy them in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

A quick guide to the property security superstars:

  1. Steel Screens and Steel Sheets

vacant property security screen

Criminal intrusions often happen through doors and windows; sometimes, individuals hell-bent on entry can force even the most rigid locks. Steel security screens and sheets are the ideal solution and frequently an insurance requirement. Screens are fitted to the outside of the property, completely covering each window and frame. They’re secured to an internal steel frame, so they cause little or no damage to the existing one.

Not only are they a powerful visual deterrent, but they’re Fort Knox-like in physical security terms. And, as they’re perforated, they let in light and air – great for ventilation.

Clearway will always use hand-cut steel sheets where opening shapes are difficult or awkward, such as the arched or lancet windows often found in churches.

Read more about our steel security screens.

  1. Concrete Blocks

types of concrete barriers

Nothing on four wheels is likely to get past one of these.

Concrete barrier blocks are a simple but highly efficient way to secure a perimeter, control vehicle and “people” movement at an event, or protect a vacant construction site or car park.

They’re even a good first-line defence in a flood, massively reducing water flow.

Read more about concrete block hire.

  1. Keyless Steel Doors

A Clearway keyless steel door and steel panels

High-performance steel doors are an excellent way to protect residential and commercial property portfolios.

Only allowing access to authorised personnel via a keypad PIN code, these keyless steel doors replace the existing ones and fit securely into the opening without causing damage. It’s virtually impossible to cut them off at the hinges, and they have a one-of-a-kind locking mechanism, making them one of the best security measures on the market.

Read more about our keyless steel doors.

  1. Wireless Alarm Systems

These systems are ideal for properties or construction sites where there is no phone line or mains electricity – a common problem, in fact. High-tech battery technology and access to the mobile network for remote alarm monitoring solve the issue.

Security teams monitor alarm activations and CCTV systems 24/7/365 at our National Security Inspectorate Gold Standard monitoring station. This high-standard service detects intruders or fire. After confirming and ruling out any false alarms, it immediately alerts the client or emergency services, depending on the protocol in place.

Although not related to wireless alarms, visual evidence in the form of CCTV will be required.

Read more about our wireless alarm systems.

  1. Video Alarms

Battery-powered vacant property video alarms make excellent use of mobile network technology, and can also operate on a stand-alone basis.

In brief, once activated by onboard or remote sensors, a video alarm takes pictures of the incident, pieces them together into a 10-second video clip and forwards it to a monitoring centre or the client for further action if necessary.

Specifically designed for use on commercial or residential properties without mains power or phone lines, they’re quick to install and easy to remove when no longer needed.

  1. Security Guards and K9 (dogs)

Clearway Security Guard Dogs

Security guards offer highly-trained expertise to oversee public and private buildings, construction sites, offices, commercial warehousing, and retail stores. They’re accredited to deliver static manned guarding, crowd control, stewarding, patrols, mobile security, and much more.

NASDU-trained guard dogs provide an unparalleled visual deterrent, serving and protecting their human owners and the property they safeguard.

Read more about our security guard hire services.

  1. CCTV Towers

Using independent solar and battery or mains power, these towers use powerful wireless technology for unbroken coverage even over large sites. They detect activity 24/7 – with pan, tilt and zoom capabilities to record the event in a high-quality format. In addition, they can emit a loud alarm and may also include remote voice alerts, thus making intruders think twice.

CCTV can be viewed directly by the client or nominated individual/company, or more typically by the trained staff at our 24/7 ARC (Alarm Receiving Centre), and can respond accordingly.

Read more about CCTV Camera Towers.

  1. Waste Clearance and Fly-Tipping

Waste makes a property and its surroundings highly unpleasant at best and, at worst, toxic and highly dangerous.

Empty properties can and do attract fly-tippers, or others intent on leaving behind items that need thorough removal. This job is for specialists, especially if drug paraphernalia or any other hazardous substances have been left behind.

Read more about our fly tipping clearance services.

  1. Extreme Cleaning/Crime Scene and Trauma Cleaning

When vacated, properties aren’t always left in an immaculate state.

Extreme cleaning, while not exactly pleasant, can remove the remnants of drug use, bodily fluids, and years of grime and dust.

Murders, suicides, or accidents can leave behind substances or objects that may be harmful. Crime scene and trauma cleaning restores a crime or accident scene to a safe, clean environment after handover from the police or associated agencies.

Read more about our extreme cleaning services.

Quick Facts

  1. According to research by the Property Initiative Underwriting Agency, as of 2019 there were 172,217 empty commercial properties in the UK. However, statistics from open data specialist Whythawk reveal that eight out of ten of those properties have been empty for more than two years, with one in FIVE for more than four years.

  1. Since 2012, it’s been illegal for squatters to occupy residential properties. However, this does NOT apply to empty commercial buildings. This type of squatting is a civil offence rather than a criminal one.

Which means? As the owner, you are responsible for pursuing the offender; this could run to tens of thousands of pounds to recover your property and effect repairs.

  1. According to DEFRA – (, for the year 2020/21, there were 1.13 million fly-tipping incidents, an increase of 16% from the 980,000 that were reported the previous year.

Again, the landowner has to remove and dispose of it legally.

  1. The rise in home working has taken its toll. Did you know that since 2020, empty, unused commercial space in London has gone up by 20%? That’s an eye-watering 20.2 million square feet.

  1. Urban exploring is a thing.

It’s no exaggeration to state that not only does it present a high risk to health and life, the urban explorer craze is on the rise. Therefore, your property could also be at risk from these types of unwelcome guests.

The Bigger Picture

Finally, it’s worth remembering that vandalism, damage, and arson to empty commercial properties in the UK come at a steep cost, not just in financial terms but also in the harm it can inflict on the local community.

Secure, well-maintained buildings keep their value. Protected properties also promote better, more prosperous, and cohesive neighbourhoods. We all win. We’re paying it forward.

An investment now is for everyone’s future.

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