The Perils of an Unoccupied Rental Property: How to Mitigate Risks

Property Management Blog

In the real estate business, the period between the exit of one tenant and the entrance of another can pose certain risks. An empty rental property can, unfortunately, present an inviting target for unwanted visitors such as intruders or squatters. For this reason, it becomes crucial to minimize the period of vacancy and initiate effective strategies to protect the property during this transitional time.

Moreover, an unoccupied rental property isn't just vulnerable to human-induced damage but can also suffer from a lack of maintenance, leading to further complications. Here we delve into the various risks that a vacant property entails, and how to strategically tackle each one.

Risk Factor #1: Squatter Settlement

Risk Factor #1: Squatter Settlement

Unmonitored vacant properties can prove to be a magnet for squatters who take up residence without your permission or knowledge. Squatters can exploit your utilities and cause potential damage to the property. If squatters settle in your property for a prolonged duration, the legal procedures to evict them can be stressful, time-consuming, and costly.

Risk Mitigation Strategies:

  • Security System: Invest in a robust security system with remote tracking features for real-time updates and intruder alerts.
  • Surveillance Cameras: Install multiple surveillance cameras at strategic locations to monitor the property's key access points.
  • Effective Alarm System: Ensure your property is equipped with a loud alarm system to deter intruders.

Risk Factor #2: Intrusions by Thieves and Vandals

Risk Factor #2: Intrusions by Thieves and Vandals

Unoccupied rental properties can be easy targets for thieves and vandals. High-value items such as appliances, furnishings, and even building materials like wires and pipes can be attractive to thieves.

Risk Mitigation Strategies:

  • Motion Sensors: Install motion sensors to detect any unusual activity on the property.
  • Security Lights: Use security lights in strategic locations to illuminate the property, discouraging intruders from entering.
  • Audio Deterrents: Pre-recorded sounds that mimic human activity can serve as a deterrent for potential intruders.

Risk Factor #3: Risk of Fire Damage

Risk of Fire Damage

Without regular inspection and maintenance, seemingly minor issues can escalate into major fire hazards in a vacant rental property. For instance, an unnoticed spark or overheating of systems can lead to catastrophic fire damage.

Risk Mitigation Strategies:

  • Routine Inspections: Regular inspections of the property can prevent it from appearing vacant and deter potential risks.
  • Fire Alarm Tests: Despite the absence of tenants, ensure the fire alarm and carbon monoxide sensors are activated and tested regularly.

Risk Factor #4: Water Damage

Water Damage

Water damage, including leaks, broken pipes, and the resulting mold growth, can be one of the costliest damages to handle. The risks are higher in unoccupied properties where these issues can go unnoticed for a long time.

Risk Mitigation Strategies:

  • Regular Maintenance: Keep the gutters clean and the heating systems turned off when not in use.
  • Routine Inspections: Inspect areas prone to mold presence such as the basement, laundry area, and bathroom regularly.
  • Water Sensors: Install water sensors that can detect leaks early and alert you, thereby preventing substantial damage.

Optimal Management of a Vacant Property

While all the aforementioned strategies are useful to mitigate the risks of a vacant property, they can be time-consuming and challenging to implement without proper expertise. Therefore, it might be beneficial to engage the services of a professional property management company. They can efficiently oversee your vacant rentals, handle the risks, and ensure the property stays in top-notch condition, providing you with peace of mind during the transitional period between tenants.

A proficient property management company is adept at safeguarding against squatters, thieves, and vandals. They also conduct regular inspections to keep housing systems functional and prevent damage, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your real estate business. Thus, while vacancies are unavoidable in the rental business, their associated risks can be effectively managed, ensuring the long-term profitability and sustainability of your investments.

If you’d like to talk more about property management, or you need help with Everest Property Management, please contact us at Everest Realty.

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