Vacant Property Inspections (VPIs) in the time of Covid – Vacant property management
As a result of the national lockdowns, offices have closed, retail properties are vacant and homeowners have deserted their city properties. Consequently, restaurants have closed their doors, retailers have moved online and the once busy city is empty, creating an unprecedented demand for VPIs.
What does VPI mean?
The term VPI stands for Vacant Property Inspections and in the last year it has become necessary for a far broader range of properties than it did pre-COVID-19, with more properties vacant and in need of management.
Many of you may not be familiar with the term VPI, or the practical benefits of a regular vacant property inspection, but it may well effect you. A VPI is critical to property insurance providers, property managers, retail property owners and managers, office managers, building supervisors and even homeowners.
When a property is left unoccupied it may suffer damage, be vandalised even become occupied by squatters, leading you to call on your insurance provider to help resolve the issue. Issues such as fire caused by arson, damp caused by a leaking pipe, burglary due to a weak lock or broken window, squatters or even theft of the contents of the building are worryingly common side-effects of leaving a property empty.
Do I need to inspect my vacant property and how to I manage my vacant property?
Unfortunately for many, in the event that you do not undertake a regular VPI, your insurance provider can reject any claim you make on the above issues, even if you feel it is covered by your agreement.
A large number of insurance providers expect a property to be inspected a minimum of once a week, checking for a range of issues and providing evidence that such an inspection has taken place. In some cases, without proof, insurance providers do not have to honour a repayment to the customer in the case of damage or theft.
Gallowglass Security’s Property team have seen an unprecedented rise in demand for VPIs. Pre-COVID-19, VPIs were ordinarily for properties that have just been sold or were pre-development. Typically, these properties were vacant for three months and generally considered low risk property. However, since March 2020, Gallowglass Security is now undertaking over 1000 vacant property inspections every month for private property owners through to large corporates.
Every client and every insurance provider has different demands as to how they want the empty property inspected and the VPI to take place. As a result, Gallowglass Security’s Property team provide clients with a tailored made experience based off our extensive knowledge, and the demands of the insurer’s contract.
How often should a vacant property be inspected?
We provide clients with a daily or weekly, fully digitalised, time-stamped report, featuring photography of all key areas of the building. Alongside this, we also provide our clients with bespoke services, whether this be forwarding mail, bleeding radiators, checking fridges or running the taps and ensuring that no pipes have frozen during these colder months and reducing chances of legionella. Clients have individual demands and our SIA licensed staff always look to accommodate these and ensure their inclusion in our reports.
For those that feel that this is not a concern, there are several horror stories that should act as a warning. One example of which is an empty warehouse that didn’t invest in a professional VPI service. It was reported to contain over 800 tonnes of rubbish, which had been illegally dumped there in 7 days. Due to a lack of reporting, this individual’s insurance provider was not obliged to pay-out and clear the mess left, leaving the owner with a bill over £100,000 to clear the rubbish from the vacant property. As you can imagine the financial cost of a regular VPI is significantly less, let alone the emotional cost.
For those who own a vacant property, whether this be an empty office, empty home or empty warehouse, Vacant Property Inspection Services should be top of your agenda. The effects of COVID are due to have an unprecedented effect on the economy, let alone the personal impacts. Don’t let damage to your vacant property become another burden on you.