A common misconception is that having a vacant rental unit means you only need to budget for maintenance expenses. The truth is, heavy risks occur when you don’t have a tenant occupying your rental property.

Generally, it’s advised that you get in the habit of securing future tenants before the present one leaves. This ensures that your income remains consistent month after month and reduces the risks that are associated with vacant properties.

This article will put you on to potential risks that come with having an empty rental unit and ways to protect your properties:

1. Thieves and Vandals

Never assume that there isn’t anything of value in a vacant rental. Thieves can take aluminum pipes and copper wires from unfurnished, vacant rentals and sell them. If you have nice furnishings or expensive decorations hanging on the walls, they can also become the object of fancy.

You should also consider the possibility of vandals targeting your empty property. They can use spray-paint, charcoal and other materials to throw on walls and floors, leaving you with a costly mess to clean up.

So, how can you protect your property from thieves and vandals?

Install an excellent security system. This way, even if you’re not physically there, you can keep an eye on the property. A functioning alarm and security camera can serve as a great deterrent for thieves and vandals because they won’t want to risk the alarm going off. They’ll also want to avoid being identified on camera.

Security Camera

While you’re at it, you can also install motion sensors and lights on timers to make it seem like there are people inside the rental. The more it looks like someone is occupying the unit, the less likely it will be targeted by thieves or vandals.

2. Squatters

You should also be aware of squatters taking up residence in your vacant properties. They could use your utilities and furnishing which might result in wear and tear or property damage.

Squatters can be hard to remove from your property after some time. You may need to contact a lawyer to ensure the safe and legal eviction of a squatter. This process can be costly and time-consuming. So, it’s essential to be proactive to avoid this situation from ever developing.

Protecting your property from squatters is a similar process to protecting your space from thieves and vandals. Ensure that you have a functioning security system and that cameras are strategically placed to cover all entrances to the property. Having an alarm can also be effective at scaring away a squatter.

3. Fire Hazards

When a property is empty, the housing systems may not run smoothly. That’s why it’s vital to perform property maintenance and inspections even if a unit is vacant.

Some systems may experience overheating that can cause fires or, in extreme cases, explosions. Therefore, always keep flammable items away from heating systems and perform regular unit checks.

Arsonists may try to target your property as well and they can be very hard to catch. Accidental fires also occur if a trespasser leaves lit candles or cigarettes behind.

Fire Alarm

To protect your property from fires:

  • Monitor your property via your security system.
  • Pay a visit to your vacant rental frequently. If people see someone’s frequently coming in and out of the property, they’ll be less inclined to trespassing.
  • Maintain your curb appeal. Overgrown grass and weeds can signal the vacancy of your property.
  • Make sure to pick up the mail. Never let it pile up. This is often a clear sign of a vacant unit.
  • Never skip property inspections.


4. Water Damage

If a unit has been vacant for a while, you might not realize that a pipe has developed a leak. But, this can result in water damage once the water is switched on.

The roof could also develop leaks, especially, following a storm or a rainy season. If this issue isn’t addressed in a timely manner, the damage will build up. These damages can mean paying for a new roof, new pipes, fixing water-damaged ceilings, floors and walls, and more.

Home Repair

To protect yourself from water damage,

  • Regularly inspect your rental and switch on faucets to see if there are any leaks.
  • After heavy rainfall or the winter season, you should make sure everything drained away from the property properly. It might require more home inspections during wet seasons but this is a better alternative to shouldering the costly expenses of repair water damages.

Main Takeaways:

When you’re looking for a new tenant, they’ll be more comfortable with you and your property when they know the rental unit is in top condition.

Monitoring all these potential issues can be overwhelming for anyone. That’s why one of the best ways to protect your vacant units is to hire a property management company. They can conduct regular inspections, monitor properties to protect against trespassers and squatters, as well as, protect any valuables in the unit.

Even better, they can help you market your rental quickly! Property management companies can provide you with a host of services on top of keeping your rental properties well maintained whether it’s vacant or occupied. They can take the stress out of self-management.

Be sure to check out East Bay Property Management and Consulting for more information.