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Unoccupied Properties - Guidance to Protect them

20 December 2021

December is typically a time of year when some premises will be left unoccupied, which itself brings a set of risks that must be managed. As with last winter, the number of unoccupied properties will increase as many businesses have had to reduce their operations or time spent in a workplace in order to follow government advice

Therefore, it is worthwhile having a basic checklist of what risks to consider when not in regular attendance at your workplace. The following list is a useful reminder of risks that might arise and how an inspection of the risks should be considered:

1. Risks for unoccupied properties

2. The external risks

3. The internal risks 


1. What risks should I consider for unoccupied properties?


►  You should endeavour where practical and safe to inspect your Insured premises internally and externally and keep a log.

►  Risk assessments should be carried out on the changing risk/lack of supervision in place.

►  All fire protection, detection, and security systems to remain active and monitored remotely where possible.

►  All physical security and locking devices are working and in place.

►  All protection and detection systems are operational.

►  In the event of a claim, some insurers will ask for proof of inspections, therefore, it is important you log all inspections of the premises.


2. What are the external risks to an unoccupied property?


►  Adequacy of security controls should be assessed based on likely periods of unoccupancy and type of business, particularly in high-crime areas.

►  Secure and seal all letterboxes and openings and redirect post if necessary.

►  Consideration should be given to the accumulation of vehicles, proximity to buildings, and their security when premises are unattended.

►  Perimeter security, fences, and lighting are in good condition and operational.

►  All external areas must be clear of waste and combustible materials.

►  Consider waste build-up and the controls needed if waste collection services are affected.


3. What are the internal risks to an unoccupied property?


►  There are no leaking fluids or spills.

►  Any unsafe conditions are identified and remedied.

►  Any and all hazardous processes to cease (and not run unmanned) and be shut down safely.

►  Other processes should not be run if there is no adequate supervision; safety should not be comprised.

►  Heating left on but other critical services powered down if not required unless to support protection or detection systems.

►  Drain all water and fuel supply tanks, apparatus, and pipes.

►  All internal areas must be clear of waste and combustible materials.

►  All sprinkler systems need to be set to 'winter safe'. The cold weather leaves systems that are protecting outdoor areas or cold areas (attics etc), valve chambers, and pump rooms particularly vulnerable. If you’re unsure how to do this, speak to a sprinkler contractor.


If you have any particular questions or concerns relating to the unoccupancy of your premises and how insurance cover would respond, please contact your usual Bruce Stevenson representative. Or, send us a message here

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