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Your responsibilities when closing a property up or leaving it closed for an extended period

Your responsibilities when closing a property up or leaving it closed for an extended period

It isn’t just during a pandemic that property gets closed up and not used. If you’re a tenant that decides it is no longer to operate a viable business from a property where you have a lease, it may be the better option to lock the doors. If you’re a landlord you may have a period where your property is not occupied and you don’t have a tenant. In each case there is a person who is responsible for the property. It is therefore worthwhile to protect your interests before avoidable costs head your way through break-in, storm damage, or flood, fire and lack of repair. As well as practical security measures, it is very important that you inform your insurer if your premises are going to be empty for any extended period of time. In particular if the property will be empty for more than 30 days. If this is the case damage may not be covered.

We’ll take a look at what is needed by property sector

Unoccupied office space

Common Insurance Precautions

Make sure the property itself is in a good condition before securing the premises. Complete a schedule of condition with photographs. This will help demonstrate to the insurer that you are mitigating the risk.

Drain down water that may freeze in pipes if closing the property up for the winter, or if you close up the property in the spring make a not to check the water before winter comes along if the closure is longer than originally envisaged. Keeping the heating on will help prevent burst pipes and will also help prevent damage to the wallpaper or building’s structure. By doing this preparatory work demonstrates to your insurer that you are helping to prevent a claim from arising.

Electrical wiring must be maintained regularly. Unchecked, faulty wiring can cause fires. At the very least ensure you:

  • Unplug appliances
  • Replace damaged cords
  • Book regular checks from a certified electrician

It is important to visit unoccupied property regularly and to make a note of your inspections. Keep ahead of potential claims before they arise.

Locks

Deter intruders by securely and visibly bolting down all windows, doors and garages

Who could have access to the closed property? Make sure all keys are accounted for and make a note to confirm this has been done. If in doubt, change the locks.

Board up main windows to protect your property from damage and unlawful entry. Timber can be used for this but for a more secure result professional steel shutter can be used.

CCTV

Catching a break-in on camera will be helpful supporting evidence for making a claim. Cameras can also act as a visual deterrent for potential thieves, squatters or vandals.

Alarm Systems

A suitable alarm system is a priority. The alarm system should be installed and maintained by a recognised installer approved by the National Security Inspectorate or the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board. The alarm should also be recognised by the Police.

Check with your insurer that your alarm system is recognised by them.

Abandoned commercial premises

Maintaining Property Presentability

A property that looks like it is closed, unoccupied and never visited will stick out and become a potential target for thieves, vandals and intruders. Keep it clean and maintain the property. This will also make it more attractive to potential leaseholders. Concentrate on the easy wins such as…

  • Clearing out any overgrown weeds and grass
  • Emptying of any Oil Tanks
  • Regularly collecting post
  • Pick up any litter
  • Remove any potential hazards that could cause harm to passers-by
  • Keep a good relationship with neighbours, they can be your eyes and ears and contact you if anything happens to the property

If you need any assistance with closing a property up for an extended period, or someone to manage the above process while the property is closed please call us or email at info@mjdhughes.com

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