With winter approaching, there may be many reasons why you would leave your property vacant: you could be leaving your summer home to go to a warmer climate for the cold months, you could be closing up your business for an extended vacation, or your school or facility could be shut down for the holiday season. Maybe you have moved from one property to another and are waiting to sell your original property? Or your property has suffered fire damage and needs to be repaired? No matter what your reason for leaving your property empty for an extended period of time, taking precautionary steps is important to protect your vacant property from vandalism, theft, and squatters.
Tips To Protect Your Vacant Property From Vandalism and Theft
To properly seal up your property before you leave for the season, follow these safety tips.
- Preventing Garage Door Break Ins. Keep all garage doors and loading docks are all closed and locked. Add extra padlocks if necessary to ensure people can’t break in.
- Keep Curtains Closed. Make sure to close all curtains or blinds in your house or business to keep peeping eyes out. If the lights are off and curtains are open, potential thieves can see into the windows and see what you have that might be of interest to them. By closing off the visual to the inside of the property, the less likely someone will be to risk breaking in. If your property is in an area with harsh storms, hurricanes, or heavy winds, consider preventative board up services.
- Put Mail on Hold. Nothing says “We’re not here” than an overflowing mailbox. Place a hold on all of your mail. Or, if you’re moving locations for the season, have your mail forwarded or sent to a P.O. box instead.
- Use Beware of Dog Signs. Simply by adding “Beware of Dog” signs or “Property Secured By…” signs on your lawn and security stickers on the windows (even if your property is not currently armed by a security company or a dog) can be enough to deter people from vandalizing your property with graffiti or stealing something outside of your home, like your new A/C unit. These signs add a sense of doubt in potential criminals’ minds that may make the difference between them committing the crime and not.
- Use Your Friends and Neighbors. Your neighbors are your best friends when you’re not around. Let them know you are leaving for that extended vacation or closing up your business for a little while. That way, they can be on the lookout for suspicious activity. If possible, have your neighbor park a car in your driveway. Also have them do bi-weekly checks of your property to make sure the place still looks secure. If you feel comfortable, give them a key to check on the inside of the building to make sure there’s no water damage and that everything is still secure for when you get back.
- Use Best Practices When Hiring a Realtor. If you have vacated your home or business so that you can sell it, hiring a reputable realtor you trust is vital. Since your property is vacant, don’t put up for sale signs until you are ready to go. Putting up sale signs only invites people to try and see if anyone is home, and may lead to potential vandalism or squatters. Have a sign-in sheet for realtors and potential buyers so you have a physical record of everyone who is coming and going in your property. This also goes for contractors and sub-contractors if you’re having anything fixed before the sale. If, by chance, a key gets lost by your realtor or neighbor, change the locks immediately.
- Landscape Property Maintenance. Maintain the look of your landscaping. Overgrown grass and shrubbery tells people you are not around to take care of them, increasing your property’s risk of vandalism. If you are close enough and can do the maintenance yourself, make sure to cut grass weekly during hotter weather and shrubbery every time it gets too close to the sill of the windows. Shrubbery that grows to window level creates good hiding places for robbers. Well-maintained bushes and gardens allows for a clear view from the street to your property so neighbors can easily catch anyone in the act.
- Winterize Pipes and Other Water Damage Prevention. Make sure to insulate your pipes, especially those that flow through an uninsulated spaced like a garage or attic. Turn off all outdoor spigots and disconnect hoses. Wrap outdoor pipes as well to keep cold air from coming and freezing pipes. These winterization rules should be followed to prevent winter water damage at home, at school, or at your business.
Has Your Property Suffered Winter Related Water Damage or Fire Damage While You Were Away?
Contact Alpha-Omega Disaster Restoration. At Alpha Omega, we have a trained, certified, and licensed emergency response team available 24/7. They will assess your situation, make a plan, and work directly with your insurance company, as well as your tenant’s. We’ll restore your property as quickly and safely as possible, to get you back into your home or business.