Risks of Having a Vacant Rental Property

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Property vacancies are inevitable, so you need to be prepared and take proactive steps, such as requiring an end of tenancy cleaning, to find qualified tenants right away. Making this a priority reduces a landlord’s stress and limits interrupted rental income. 

Aside from being a financial setback, there are other risks you’ll face when you have an empty rental unit. Among them is the huge possibility of theft, trespassers, and property damage.

Here are the risks landlords encounter when dealing with a vacant rental property:

Squatters Occupying the Empty Unit

Landlords that don’t regularly drop by their vacant properties might end up encountering a squatter situation. Squatters tend to search for empty places to stay in. It keeps them off the streets while not paying any rental fees. 

They can also freely use the furnishings. In fact, squatters can also take on an unofficial landlord role by renting out an unoccupied rental space to other squatters.

If you ignore squatters, you might lose your property since squatters have rights after a certain period of living in an empty property. They can be recognized as the owners of it. 

Removing them from your real estate property can also prove to be challenging and time-consuming. Attending court hearings and spending on attorney fees may even be required.

How to Fix This Issue: Prevent Squatters From Occupying a Vacant Unit

Tackling this type of concern immediately is recommended. It can be resolved through the following steps:

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  • Monitor Your Vacant Rental Space by Using a Security System: Make sure that critical areas are covered. Remember that squatters may still stay in your empty unit, away from the visibility of cameras. Visit your vacant unit regularly even if you’re conducting remote surveillance.
  • Install an Alarm System So You Get Notified of Intruders: Detecting squatters early means it’s easier to remove them. The sound of the alarm will spook squatters, so having an alarm alert can be an effective solution.

Fire Disasters

With a vacant rental property, you’re at risk of fires since your heating system isn’t being used and inspected regularly. Maintenance is more consistent when a renter is staying on your property. 

Fires can occur early when the HVAC systems are malfunctioning. Trespassers can also be the cause of fires. They may hang around empty units and throw away a cigarette that’s still lit. This can then start a fire that can burn down your rental home.

Other associated risks are arsonists who like setting empty properties on fire. 

How to Resolve This Concern: Discourage Intruders

You can manage this situation by applying these security tips to protect your unit:

  • Drop By Your Vacant Rental Home Often: This makes others aware that you’re actively overseeing the unit and will discourage them from entering it. With a unit that isn’t visited by the owner, intruders are more likely to trespass.
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  • Check for Signs of Trespassers by Reviewing Your Security System: When conducting property inspections around your unit, avoid having a predictable schedule so squatters will be easily caught. Invest in a system that can easily track squatters to limit property damage.
  • Regularly Maintain Your Yard: When your outdoor space and yard look tidy, it sends a message that someone is occupying the property. When your lawn appears filled with weeds and unkempt plants, it can attract intruders to your unit.
  • Don’t Leave Mail Lying Around: If you have a ton of mail on your doorstep, it indicates that no one is around. Burglars are then likely to access the unit and find valuables they can steal and sell.

Mold and Water Damage

Empty rental properties are bound to suffer from maintenance issues since many problems tend to fly under the radar. Pest infestations can happen, as well as mold growth.

Leaks are also likely since no one is around to discover burst pipes. A dirty gutter can also cause leaks due to redirected rainwater. Water damage can then become a big issue. Left unchecked, major renovations can be required for the property’s flooring, furnishings, and walls.

How to Address This Situation: Prevent Mold and Water Damage

Mold and water damage can be fixed by completing  the following steps: 

  • Draining plumbing before the winter season sets in.
  • Cleaning the gutters, especially after a storm or windy season since dirt can become a barrier and change the water flow. This leads to leaking and flooding.
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  • Turning on a fan for proper room ventilation and guard against excess moisture that may cause mold.

Theft and Vandalism

One of the top risks landlords are exposed to are burglars and vandals that can greatly damage the rental unit. 

Ransacking of valuable items can occur, especially when a furnished unit is equipped with appliances and furnishing. Aside from this, wires and pipes can also be stolen.

Vandals are also common and can gather around in empty rental units. In fact, they can cause property damage around the unit which leads to repainting in order to erase the graffiti.

How to Counter This Problem: Prevent Theft and Vandalism in Your Unit

Here are ways to protect your rental from thieves and vandals:

  • Don’t hesitate to set up a good security system. Monitor your unit constantly or engage the services of a third party. 
  • Install alarm systems and motion sensors to spot intruders.

Bottom Line

It’s vital to limit the risks of a vacant rental property in order to prevent massive losses in terms of property damage. Consider hiring a reliable property management company to oversee your vacant rental. 

If you’re a long-distance landlord or have little time to actively manage an empty rental, contact Bigham and Associates today! We can also help you find high-quality renters, collect the rent, and maintain an excellent rental space.