Vacant Property Risks Rise Once The Clocks Go Back
Dark days, early nights and extreme winter weather mean added risk for empty properties. Buildings that stand vacant are exposed to greater threats over the cold months, risks include;
Vacant properties are more susceptible to crime in the winter months than at any other time of the year. Research by Co-Op Insurance highlights that as soon as the clocks go back in October, property related crime increases as much as 36%.
Darker evenings and shorter days provide burglars and opportunist criminals with more opportunity under the cover of darkness, leading to a rise in malicious damage and property insurance claims during the winter months.
Having property guardians residing in property gives around the clock protection, helping deter criminal activity. Guardians secure empty property and act as your eyes and ears on the ground and can report suspicious activity as soon as it occurs.
When the temperature drops, the chances of squatting increases. People who most need shelter will seek to enter the most vulnerable buildings, and there’s no doubt that unused buildings or those awaiting refurbishment are the most susceptible to squatters and break-ins.
Guardians ensure the property remains visibly occupied, acting as a deterrent against anti-social behaviour and squatters. Squatting in a residential property is a criminal offence, whereas squatting in a commercial property is seen as a civil offence, making it harder to evict trespassers. Property Guardians deter squatters and can give temporary residential status, providing greater legal protection to owners.
During the winter season empty property is at heighten risk of weather damage. Roofs can become damaged through water penetrating through weather pointing or rendering and tiles can lift in extreme winds. It’s not just external areas at risk, internal areas of the property can quickly become water damaged. Burst pipes as a result of frozen pipes thawing out are a common issue and mould can quickly form from humidity and lack of ventilation, even if the property has been closed up for a short time.
Many of these issues are relatively straightforward and easy to fix, but the issue arises as the property is empty and the damage is not discovered until sometime after the event. By then the damage has worsened and repairs could run into thousands of pounds to rectify. Property Guardians secure empty property and are able to oversee the condition of a building and report any faults as they occur. DEX has an in-house maintenance who can repair minor issues at zero cost to the property owner.
It’s not just humans who looks for shelter over the colder months. Pests, such as rats, mice and squirrels head for the warmth of a nest in winter, and empty properties are an easy target.
Aside from being a health issue and nuisance for neighbours, pests can also cause considerable damage to properties, particularly by gnawing through electric cables and timbers.
Property Guardians act as a huge deterrent. Not only are rodents deterred by humans, Guardians are able to alert DEX if any are spotted in or around the property. Early measures can then be taken to address the issue before a full infestation occurs.
Finally, if your property is vacant, you need to keep a weather eye on your insurance over the winter months. In many cases, a claim for damage caused by winter issues will only be upheld if the vacant property itself has been secured, well maintained and if the insurer has been informed that the property will be vacant.
Property Guardians protect the property around the clock, ensure it is visibly lived in and have access to DEX’s in-house 24/7 maintenance team should any issues arise. Insurance companies appreciate that having Property Guardians in place ensures the property is more secure that when using traditional security methods. Taking all reasonable steps in maintaining and securing your vacant property not only minimises the risk of problems but maximises the chance of insurance company support in the event of a crisis.