As the manager of a facility you have many different responsibilities, and this doesn’t change when that property is vacant for an extended period. In fact, a vacant property requires just as much management as an occupied property, and how you manage that situation and a possible transition to the building being occupied can save your business considerable cost, bad publicity and potential legal issues.

Why is your building vacant?

Vacant properties can arise for a number of reasons, and the situation could be temporary – knowingly or not – or could become a medium or long term issue depending on how the situation develops. Typical scenarios for a property becoming vacant include:

  • Shutdown over summer holiday period or long bank holiday weekend
  • The business has ceased trading – permanently or temporarily
  • The property is awaiting new tenants
  • The property has been sold and is awaiting new occupation

In these situations there remains a responsibility to maintain the property so that it can quickly become occupied and active again. This could be critical to business continuity or in providing income for you the landlord, employer or property owner.

Why is a vacant property vulnerable?

A vacant property carries a much higher risk profile than an occupied property, because the ordinary flow and presence of people and operations is a natural deterrent. When a property is unoccupied it is a sitting target and invites nuisance, theft, trespass, unauthorised encampment and even arson, because it is empty and vulnerable.

In addition to a higher risk profile, a vacant building still needs maintaining structurally, still needs to meet compliance requirements and still needs to be functioning in terms of its utilities infrastructure. This is because you still carry the same responsibilities as the facilities manager, but also so that if business starts up again, if you find a new tenant or if you find a new buyer, the transition can happen straight away and with as little cost or delay as possible.

How to manage a vacant property

The best way to manage a vacant property is to have dedicated security controls in place and to treat the building as if it was occupied. So you need to:

  • Regularly inspect the structural integrity of the property
  • Carry out maintenance and repairs as necessary
  • Take utilities readings and carry out other health and safety inspections
  • Patrol the perimeter of the property
  • Protect and monitor points of ingress
  • Keep the property clean and hygienic

In order to carry out these duties you can appoint vacant property services which include vacant property patrols and inspections, vacant property guardians, temporary CCTV systems, shutters and bollards and SIA licenced vacant property caretakers. These systems can be rapidly implemented to provide a physical and visual deterrent, and to effectively protect the property from external risk. At First Response Group we can provide all these services via a tailored package designed to meet your needs. We will carry out a thorough risk assessment of your site, which takes into account location, materials and equipment on site and existing security controls. We can make a full recommendation of the adaptable services you require and can be flexible as to how you want these to be deployed.  We also ensure you mitigate any public liability issues that may occur and ensure insurance compliance by implementing a robust risk mitigation solution. Furthermore, we understand that the situation with vacant properties can change very quickly, so we are reactive in terms of supplying services but also in removing them when a building becomes occupied again.

Contact First Response Group today and we can provide you with the services to protect your vacant property, maintain your compliance obligations and manage the transition to the building returning to occupation and full functioning. We also have a dedicated inspections, helpdesk and facilities management team who support our risk management team throughout all projects.

Danny Wallace

Article By:

Danny Wallace

Head of Risk Management

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