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How to Protect Vacant Property

When we read about the fire in this vacant building yesterday and the subsequent impact on this Missouri community, we decided that a reminder about vacant building safety was in order.

It was really cold in Missouri this weekend, as it was in many areas of the country. And with the cold weather comes a new set of risks that owners of vacant buildings need to consider. Mike Halvey of Zurich North America, in an article entitled “Protecting your vacant building: How to reduce the risks and become more aware of coverage pitfalls,” lists several tips for owners of vacant buildings to consider as temperatures drop.

How to Protect Vacant Property:

  • Supervision
    1. Conduct frequent regular “walk-through” tours of the vacant property at different times of the day to note any changes. Consider hiring a guard service. The frequency of tours depends on the value of a location, ranging from a minimum once a week for low-valued property to several visits a week for a high-valued building. During visits, survey general conditions, including:
      1. The exterior of the building to note if there are any signs of vandalism or trespassing.
      2. The interior tour of the building should include all areas.
      3. Ask the local police department to include your building in a night tour if you notice any vandalism or attempts at entry into the building.
  • Security
    1. Secure all doors and accessible windows with deadbolt locks. Consider installing additional locks.
    2. Make sure security systems are in place and operational.
    3. Ensure proper lighting:
      1. Maintain exterior and interior lighting.
      2. Install exterior and interior motion or timed lighting to prevent from potential animal infestation and criminal activity.
    4. Consider letting a non-profit organization occupy your property at no charge to maintain the property.
    5. Make the property appear occupied to minimize the risks of vandalism and other crimes.
    6. Maintain the exterior by cutting grass, removing leaves or snow.
  • Protection from environmental risks
    1. Remove any debris or hazardous materials, including unnecessary combustibles, pollutants or chemicals to eliminate the potential for fire, leaks or contamination.
    2. Develop specific damage-mitigation plans for mold by evaluating your portfolio’s exposure to the problem. Consider such factors as construction materials and geographic location.
    3. Turn off electrical equipment.
    4. Secure flammable liquid tanks by removing them or filling them with sand or concrete.

We may not have been able to help the building in Missouri, but we’d like to help you. Click here to read more about our Vacant Building Program.