Over the course of managing your rental, you’re bound to deal with property vacancies at some point.
When this happens, set out to find new renters immediately. This will help mitigate a loss of income from an empty unit. What most property investors fail to consider is the risk of having vacant units, such as theft, intruders, and property damage
Below are some common risks you’ll face when there are no tenants in your property:
1. Squatters and Trespassers
If you don’t visit your vacant rental often, you might be surprised to find that squatters have taken up residence. Empty units are likely to attract the homeless. It’s an ideal situation for them, considering they pay zero rent.
In other cases, some squatters even become unofficial landlords and rent out your unit for a fee to others.
It’s generally tough if you ignore the squatting issue. Over time, they’ll earn squatters’ rights and can even become the official owner of your property if they stay long enough. It also becomes more difficult to get rid of them the longer they stay.
It can be costly, both in time and money. You’d need to appear in court and spend money filing a case to remove squatters who’ve stayed for a long period in your rental space.
Solution: Squatter Prevention
It’s better to deal with squatters before they become a problem. This can be achieved by:
- Using a security system that helps you monitor your vacant property. Cover important areas of the property, since having blind spots can result in unseen squatters. Remote surveillance can be done with certain devices if you live a good distance from your rental unit.
- Setting up an alarm system. It helps to be notified right away when squatters show up. The earlier they can be detected, the easier it” be to get them out of the premises. A loud alarm also scares potential squatters away.
2. Fire Risk
Empty units are prone to fires, given that you’re not monitoring heating systems daily. If a resident occupies a rental home, you’ll be doing maintenance more frequently. Also, your tenants can report fire hazards early.
Sometimes, intruders can also be the cause of the fire. They might leave a lit cigarette behind or a burning candle. This can lead to the fire spreading and burning the entire house to the ground.
Arsonists may also be tempted by a vacant property.
Solution: Fire Prevention
Apply these fire safety tips to protect your investment property:
- Frequently visit the vacant unit. Unlike a unit that no one’s visiting, intruders want to avoid a property that gets checked often by the property owner.
- Review your security system to identify intruders. Some squatters can be cunning and memorize your property inspection schedule. Try to have a sporadic visiting schedule, or invest in a monitoring system to discover any unwanted guests.
- Keep up with property maintenance. Make sure that the yard is well-maintained, and avoid an unkempt-looking lawn. An unkempt property is a huge sign to intruders that a unit is devoid of occupants.
- Pick up junk mail left at your doorstep. Nothing says “vacant home” more than piles of mail littering the front step. This basically invites ransackers and squatters to your property.
3. Mold & Water Damage
When you have an empty rental, your home can be subjected to less ventilation. Not to mention, there’s nobody there to detect leaks. This is a recipe for a mold infestation, which can damage health and require costly remediation if left unattended.
Similar to mold, water damage can also lead to massive repair expenses. Flooding can occur, requiring you to replace the flooring, damaged furniture, and even ceilings and walls.
Solution: Mold & Water Damage Prevention
To avoid mold and water damage, landlords can do the following:
- Drain the plumbing. This prepares your rental for when winter arrives.
- Conduct regular gutter cleanings. Windy and rainy seasons can leave dirt and leaves in your gutter. This can act as a barrier and redirect water, causing leaks or overflows.
- Turn on fans to ventilate the rooms. Humidity can cause excess moisture in the air. This invites mold to grow. By having excellent ventilation, mold can be avoided.
4. Theft & Vandalism
Another genuine fear of landlords is thieves and vandals damaging their rental. Empty rentals are targets since there’s less monitoring done. The unit may also be filled with items that can be sold; things like appliances, furniture, and even wires and pipes.
Vandals also enjoy hanging out in a vacant unit. They get a kick out of spraying graffiti and damaging the walls, especially when the chances of getting caught are small.
Solution: Theft and Vandalism Prevention
There are a few ways to protect your unit from thieves and vandals. Here are some ideas:
- Invest in a good security system. If you can’t stay in your vacant rental or hire someone to watch over it, then monitor it remotely.
- Set up alarm systems and motion sensors.
- Leave lights on a timer when you’re not on the property. This cast doubt on the intruders whether the house is vacant.
Bottom Line: The Risks of a Vacant Rental
It takes great work to protect your vacant unit. If you live out of state or just don’t have the time to watch over your rental, it’s best to hire the services of a professional property management company like McCaw.
You need someone who can reduce the risk of your property being robbed, invaded by squatters, burning down, or getting infested with mold and water damage.
Best of all, McCaw Property Management will help get your vacant unit off the market by renting it to a great tenant! Contact us today to learn more.