If you live in England, the chances are that within a short distance of your home stands one of England’s 240,000 empty properties. Amazingly, this total, based on council tax payment data, doesn’t include properties where both the premises themselves and responsibility for paying council tax have been completely abandoned; meaning the true number of the England’s empty properties could be even higher.
Properties can stand empty for many reasons, including these surprisingly common ones:
An empty property can become a target for criminal activity, such as metal theft and vandalism, other criminal / anti-social activity, illegal occupation by squatters or drug-related crimes, an empty property can heavily influence the crime rate of an area by being an “out of sight, out of mind” venue for illegal activities including drug dealing and prostitution.
Socially recognised threat to the community: Abandoned properties do have a negative impact on neighbourhoods. If you’re lucky, this will be at a “superficial” environmental level which comes with unsightly abandoned rubbish and overgrown gardens which encourage vermin. At worst, the threat from illegal activity, as outlined above, can lead to greater insidious harm and significantly impact on the immediate community, for example: through the accidental, or deliberate, setting of fires; a rise in the incidents of drug-related crime such as burglary and theft; or the presence of addicts, pimps and kerb-crawlers.
Protect against the elements, as weathering can cause disrepair and vulnerability to intruders extremely quickly.
Install sufficient security. The level and type of security needed will depend on the type of property and neighbourhood. For some, leaving a key with a close, trustworthy neighbour may be enough, whilst for others anything from installing alarms, security lighting or cameras to employing an accommodation agency or Security Company to make frequent checks on the property may be needed.
Maintain the property. Despite all of your best efforts against weathering and intruders, there will be incidents and weather which weaken your property’s security. Perform checks at least annually, on plumbing, heating and electrics. Go up in the loft to check the roof and outside to check and clear out the gutters etc. Ideally a bi-annual routine of spring and autumn maintenance will help to keep the property secure and well maintained. If you can’t do this effectively yourself, employ a reliable property management company or builder to do this for you.
By taking measures to protect any empty property you have, you’re not only contributing to the long-term upkeep and value of the property itself, but also to the fortunes of the neighbourhood and community it stands in – whether you’re planning to live there or not!
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