By Rodney Twyford, NPI Franchise Owner, San Antonio, Texas
Most rental and leased commercial properties will likely be vacant at some point between tenants. Not only are vacant properties losing income for landlords, but they also become a target for vandals. According to the FBI, an estimated loss of $15.5 billion in 2012 resulted from crimes related to vandalism. Real estate property and vacant property attracts vandalism like a magnet. There are, however a variety of ways that commercial building owners can deter vandals and protect their vacant property.
Maintain good curb appeal. Vacant property should be well maintained to not only attract new tenants, but also give the appearance of activity and security so vandals think the property is being watched. This should include lawn and landscaping maintenance, as well as the keeping gutters clean, clearing sidewalks and removing fliers stuck inside doors. A new welcome mat and seasonal decorations can also help the property appear inhabited.
Don’t advertise the vacancy. Understandably, a sign advertising the availability of a vacant commercial space is typical and expected from most real estate agents; however, people passing by do not need to see that the entire property is vacant. Blinds should be installed on all windows and closed to prevent exposing vacant interior spaces.
Neighbors can help. Neighbors living or working near a vacant property can help by parking one or more vehicles in the parking lot, randomly switching parking spaces on different days. Switching a few interior and exterior lights on two to three times a week is also a great deterrent and lets people know there is activity in the building. This can either be done by the landlord, a trusted neighbor or even a timer. Installing motion-activated exterior flood lights is also a great way to prevent vandalism.
Monitor the property. The best security is always a nosey neighbor or diligent landlord who visits the property at random times during each day. It is important for the time of your visits to be unpredictable, as crimes often occur after the property has been watched for routine activity.
Install a security system. Security systems can get expensive, but they are never more costly than the damage from vandalism or burglary. Security systems have become more sophisticated, with video monitoring that could help identify the intruders. These added features will not only help protect your property from vandalism, but they will also increase the overall value of the property and give you or the leasing agent additional features to promote.