Gallagher's real estate team provides some useful tips to protect unoccupied properties.
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The state of the UK retail industry has made for grim reading in recent months and the press regularly features news of long standing, large brands having to close high street or industrial premises in order to improve their profit margins1. This has left many buildings standing unoccupied on the UK’s high streets. Yet vacant properties can be vulnerable to a range of risks, from vandalism to arson and theft. With this in mind, insurance becomes even more important to protect you during the period of unoccupancy to help mitigate these risks.

It is then vitally important to maintain your unoccupied properties in order to deter potential losses.

Initial Preparations:
  • Remove any stock and combustibles from the building.
  • Take away all containers that could be used to contain dangerous chemicals.
  • Close off the car park for all third parties.
  • Police and fire departments will need to be informed that the premises are vacant. Fire protections must remain in place and be linked to a central station.
  • Undertake a full risk review of the premises when it becomes vacant. Identify and remove any hazards or risks that could cause injury to any third party including the emergency services.
  • Drain water pipes and oils where necessary to reduce leakage. Put precautions in place to stop remaining water from freezing. You may want to keep the heating on at a minimum to prevent freezing in throughout the winter months.
Ongoing Protections:
  • Hire a company to regularly inspect the vacant property.
  • Anything that shows lack of maintenance will be a security threat – please ensure the premises is properly maintained. Keep external lighting activated.
  • Check the roof for leaks or shrubbery growth
  • Keep the emergency lights and exit activated.

1. https://www.propertyweek.com/news-analysis/why-are-more-than-half-of-bhs-stores-still-lying-empty/5098449.article