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Risks of Having a Vacant Rental Property

vacant rental property

When your tenant moves out, it’s important to market your rental quickly, as vacant rental units can be irresistible to intruders. If you can find new tenants before the current one moves out, it’s even better. In leasing agreements, some tenants are advised to declare non-renewal of their lease 3 months before it ends. This allows landlords to scout for new tenants.

Aside from the obvious damages that occur in vacant rentals and income loss, you also have to face additional maintenance expenses. Otherwise, no potential renter will sign a lease with you.

Below you’ll find the risks that you’re exposed to when you have a vacant rental property:

Risk #1: Possibility of Squatters

You never know when someone is on the lookout to settle in an empty unit. Squatters can move in stealthily and take up space without paying for the rent. This leaves you at the losing end since they can use your utilities and furnishing without care.

Once squatters have settled for a long time, it can get harder to remove them from the premises. You have to abide by the legal laws and may even have to spend money to evict them. Squatters also have rights once they meet specific conditions. Therefore, to avoid a more stressful situation, it’s important for you to remain vigilant and keep squatters away.

How to guard against squatters

  • Security system – remote tracking is highly preferred to increase awareness of an intruder
  • Multiple cameras – more devices can reveal a squatter’s presence

having multiple cameras

  • Strategic camera positioning – capturing a large area guarantees that it will be easy to monitor the access areas of a property
  • Working alarm – the noise that alarms make can have intruders fleeing quickly

Risk #2: Exposure to Thieves and Vandals

Vacant rentals draw thieves and vandals like mice to cheese. It’s attractive since encountering another human is a non-factor. It may be easy to steal valuables and not risk being reported. Rentals can contain expensive furnishing, useful appliances and even wires and pipes, which are irresistible to thieves.

How to safeguard your property from thieves/vandals

  • Security system – having a security system can alert you to an intruder’s presence
  • Working alarm – sounds can create distracting noise and cause thieves/vandals to escape from the area immediately
  • Motion sensors – when sensors activate, it’s easy to identify intruders and it also discourages the thieves/vandals to push through with their plans
  • Lights in strategic areas – a well-lit property leaves little room to hide for cover. It also makes intruders easily visible.
  • Pre-recorded sounds – hearing voices or any sound that mimics presence in a property can throw off a thief or vandal’s plan to access a property.

Risk #3: Fire Damage

If a rental is not frequently inspected, fire situations may start due to the overheating of housing systems. A minor issue might escalate since there’s no one to report the damage and could lead to a property fire. The fact is, having an occupant ensures that things are managed or kept under control. A small fire could be easily put out or an electric spark fixed if someone is there to oversee things in the rental.

fire damage

How to minimize a fire risk in your property

  • Security system – this allows you to put the rental unit under surveillance. Is someone frequently eyeing the property? Is someone snooping around to see if it’s empty? You can quickly catch sight of this type of activity when you have an effective security system.
  • Frequent inspections – when someone is visiting your rental often, it doesn’t look empty. Most especially if the place is tidy. The weeds are pulled out, the windows aren’t gathering dust and mails are collected.
  • Testing – even if there’s no renter, continue to activate the fire alarm and carbon monoxide sensor to catch fire damage quickly.

Risk #4: Water Damage

One of the costliest property damages to handle is water-related. The extent of damage is far and wide. Leaks and broken pipes are hard to detect without tenants to request for maintenance repair. Too much rain, humidity and snow can be hazardous to a property if inspections are rare.

A second effect that results from water damage is mold growth. This reduces the attractiveness of the rental and puts occupants’ health at risk as well. It can also require tons of effort to resolve.

How to reduce water damage risk in your property

  • Clean gutters from debris – water will go where they should if gutters are clean
  • Switch off heating systems – plumbers recommend turning off heating systems when not in use
  • Inspect areas prone to mold presence – check the basement, laundry area and bathroom even when there are no renters

mold from water damage

  • Install a water sensor – this device is a leak detector and alerts you early before a costly water damage can occur

Best Way to Manage a Vacant Property’s Risks

You can implement all the suggested solutions and perform the necessary inspections. However, if you want to be free from the responsibility of looking after a vacant rental property, hire a property manager.

A good property management company can supervise vacant rentals. They’re well aware of the risks of having squatters in the premises. They also have adequate resources to guard against intruders. Moreover, they can perform frequent inspections and testing to make sure housing systems remain functional and damage-free.