Whether you’re going travelling and leaving your home empty, or your business’ office space is going to be renovated, there are plenty of reasons your building could be left unoccupied for a lengthy period of time. However, “out of sight, out of mind” simply doesn’t apply to your most valuable possession, and it’s vital you do everything you can to keep your property safe while it’s empty.
Without a protective strategy in place, a building could be damaged, broken into, or vandalised while you aren’t there. On top of traditional security tools like burglar alarms and CCTV cameras, many people go a step further by either taking out vacant property insurance or hiring property guardians to take care of the building. Both of these services help you take control of its state and security during your time away, but each option is very different.
Vacant property insurance
What is vacant property insurance?
Vacant—or unoccupied—property insurance protects buildings that are empty for longer than the time covered by standard insurance policies. As you won’t receive a payout if anything happens to your property after this standard period, it would be wise to take out this cover if you know your property will be unoccupied for a significant amount of time. Vacant property insurance is typically quite flexible, usually with three, six, nine, or 12-month policies, plus the potential to extend if needed.
What does vacant property insurance cover?
Vacant property insurance policies cover the following:
- Storm or fire damage
- Theft and/or attempted theft
- Escape of water or oil—damage caused by a leak or burst pipe
- Public liability insurance—damage caused by your property, e.g. a roof tile or tree falls on a car
Every provider offers a different insurance policy, so carefully check the documents to ensure it includes the cover you need.
What isn’t covered by vacant property insurance?
Every policy is unique, but examples of exclusions could include:
- Damage caused by contractors, who should have their own insurance
- Damage caused to the property by major works such as extensions or repairs
- Unforced entry—e.g. If an intruder enters through an unlocked door or window
What affects a vacant property insurance premium?
Providers will only insure your property if it’s in good condition. If there are structural issues, or broken windows and boarded-up entrances allowing easy access, they’re unlikely to cover you when it seems like future damage is inevitable.
As such, some policies may be granted on the condition that you take further steps to safeguard the premises while it’s empty. This could mean installing a burglar alarm, fitting locks on all doors and windows, and draining the water system to prevent flooding.
Factors that will affect the final cost of your policy include how much the building is worth, the location, the security you have in place, as well as how long it will be unoccupied for and why.
What is a property guardian?
Property guardians are people who live in and take care of your building while you aren’t occupying it. As they’re only there for security purposes, they don’t have a tenancy and will leave when you no longer need them. While it’s common to cap vacant property insurance at 12 months, property guardians can protect and maintain the property for a few years if needed.
What are the benefits of property guardians?
The longer your building is left empty, the higher the risk of attracting squatters, metal thieves, and vandals. However, as property guards live there full time, their presence can deter unwanted intruders. This constant protection is ideal if you’re vacating your home for refurbishment. By manning the building 24 hours a day, the guards will always be there to provide access to surveyors, tradespeople, and planners. Their familiarity with your property means they’ll be quick to notice any maintenance issues, and can identify and fix problems that could be more difficult to solve later down the line.
On top of providing your premises with invaluable protection and keeping it in tip-top condition, property guardians are also one of the most cost-effective security options available to you. Here at Oaksure, our professional guards can be hired for just £200 a month.
How do property guardians differ from security guards?
Perhaps you’ve considered hiring a security guard to take care of your unoccupied property. However, manned guarding is ineffective and can get costly. These figures usually patrol the premises at regular intervals, which means outsiders could always attempt a break-in whenever they’re off-duty. Without somebody occupying the building at all times, it is always vulnerable to intruders.
This is particularly important when it comes to the threat of squatters, who only target unoccupied properties they can take possession of. And as a security guard will not be living on-site, it provides an opportunity for squatters to do just that. They could even organise to have the locks changed to truly take control of the premises, and removing them can quickly turn into a very long and expensive process. What’s more, without a fixed address, it’s unlikely that squatters will be traced and made to pay for any damage they’ve caused to your property.
On the other hand, hiring live-in property guardians makes squatters far less likely to target your home. Squatters are also known to repair any damage they’ve caused during a break-in, making it hard to prove they’ve committed a criminal offence—squatting itself is only a civil offence. However, a guard would easily be able to expose intruders, enabling you to press breaking and entering charges against them if you wanted to.
What’s more, while Oaksure’s property guardians cost just £200 a month, the monthly price of a 24-hour security guard is approximately £8,000 plus VAT.
Where do I find a property guardian?
There are plenty of property protection companies with a database of guardians available to you. And considering these people will be living on your premises for some time, you need to choose competent professional guards who can be completely trusted.
Here at Oaksure, all our property guardians have extensive experience and security guarding qualifications. In fact, we are the only company to pay for Security Industry Authority (SIA) training and qualifications to ensure that our team contains the best people for the job. As well as regularly inspecting your building and keeping in touch with the on-site guards, we also have operatives on-call 24 hours a day, ready to respond to any problems they report.
Most importantly, each of our guards goes through an extensive screening process. We require multiple references, a CRB check, and copies of their timetable, and we only approve potential candidates after a thorough interview. Choosing Oaksure means you can rely on a dependable, cost-effective, 24-hour security solution to keep your property safe until it’s needed once again.
What is the best option for my property?
Vacant property insurance is sure to give you peace of mind by ensuring you’ll be compensated if any harm comes to it while it’s empty. However, it’s important to remember that you won’t be entitled to anything if damages occur as a result of any security mistakes you make, like leaving windows unlocked or forgetting to activate your burglar alarm. Vacant property insurance could also be much pricier than your standard insurance, and perhaps not feasible depending on your financial situation.
Property guardians are considered the best option for securing unoccupied buildings. Not only will you make massive savings with this cost-effective method, but having people taking care of your premises for 24 hours a day means it’s also far less likely to suffer any damage in the first place. And with a live-in guard also responsible for maintenance and upkeep, the building could end up being in even better condition than it was left in. Get in touch with a member of our team to learn more about our property guardians.
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