An online survey carried out by vacant property management experts SitexOrbis www.sitexorbis.com in collaboration with Estates Gazette has revealed how those managing vacant property prioritise their concerns. The threat of empty property rating and increased costs of commercial sales and lettings have left this sector vulnerable to adverse market conditions. But when asked to choose the ‘top 3’ vacant property issues, 22% of 100 respondents chose security as their biggest problem. Ranking joint second in the list of major headaches were loss of rental income (19%) and empty property tax. A further 15% chose maintenance as one of their key concerns and 13% specified compliance with insurance stipulations.
The ‘credit crunch’ is bringing an increasing number of vacant commercial properties to the market. The amount of available office space in the City of london has increased by 90% between mid-2008 and mid-2009 resulting in 10.2% of all City of London office space being vacant1. Company closures and retail closures nationwide have repeated that pattern in most major cities – town commercial vacancy rates in England and Wales have risen from just over 4% a year ago to nearly 12% in the middle of 2009. Taking the North of England alone, there is twice as much vacant commercial property as there was a year ago.
Despite Ministry of Justice assurances that property crime is decreasing, those managing vacant property, report exactly the opposite, as rising unemployment and repossessions cause increases in squatting, vandalism, arson and break-ins.
Another interesting outcome of the survey is that more than half of the respondents (53%) are unsure about the health and safety regulations for vacant properties. This is a matter of serious concern, given that a landlord’s statutory obligations remain the same, even when a property is vacant. Insurers are reporting a rise in large-scale fires that are increasingly putting lives at risk. Commercial fire damage cost £865 million in 2008, up 15% on the previous year (source: ABI).
SitexOrbis www.sitexorbis.com provides a full range of security and maintenance services for vacant property, keeping property in a fit condition for viewing and attracting new occupants. Wireless alarms and other electronic security measures keep buildings free of problems like squatters, criminal damage, arson and graffiti. Regular property inspections and 24/7 monitoring are used to ensure that standards are maintained. Reactive maintenance ensures that issues arising from lack of use are dealt with promptly.<br />
Asked which three types of security systems for vacant properties were most important to them, 22% of those responding to the survey selected electronic security systems, 19% man-guarding and 17% perimeter fencing. Interestingly, it is not always realised that electronic systems using battery-powered alarms, wireless devices and remote monitoring can cut security costs by as much as 50% by comparison with man-guarding plus CCTV systems, yet have been proved to be equally effective in practice.
“The results of this survey emphasise that our portfolio of products and services can resolve the concerns of vacant property managers, remove their headaches and provide the best possible value” explained Mark Cosh of SitexOrbis. “We shall continue to monitor customer opinion to keep in touch with the market’s needs.”
The SitexOrbis approach is always to achieve maximum security and full maintenance of vacant property in the most cost-effective way possible. To see the results of the survey of vacant property managers’ opinions, go to www.sitexorbis.com/poll/thankyou.asp.
Full details and a detailed technical brochure are available by phoning 08000 830 850.