Image of a vacant commercial strip mall property and parking lot.

14 Tips for Securing Vacant Commercial Property

Updated April 5, 2022 . AmFam Team

Your commercial properties are most vulnerable when they’re unoccupied. Learn how to protect vacant business property with these smart security tips — from American Family Insurance.

If you’re a business owner or a commercial real estate landlord, staying in business can be a difficult sometimes. There are a lot of reasons why a commercial operation might need to close for an extended period. And in today’s challenging times, some of those reasons are simply out of your control. If your business has been forced to shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be wondering how to keep your property safe while you’re away.

Protecting your vacant commercial property is all about securing the perimeter. And by installing a smart security system, you can get real-time data on the condition of your business property, whether it’s occupied or not. We’ve put together some tips to help reduce the threat of serious damage to your commercial property if you’ve found yourself temporarily unable to run your business.

Tips to Keep Vacant Commercial Buildings Safe

There’s a lot you can do to prevent mishaps and deter criminal activity on your vacant business property. Start with this go-to list to prevent thieves and vandals from damaging your space while it’s unoccupied:

1. Secure All Access Points: Skylights, Doors and Windows

Ensure that each point of entry into your business is locked down. Consider upgrading exterior entries to steel doors, using hinge plates and door jamb shields whenever possible. If necessary, board up windows and doors on the first floor as well as basement windows and entryways to keep your property safe.

2. Hire a Locksmith to Re-Key All Exterior Locks

Previous copies of keys can float around for quite a while. Upgrade to smart deadbolts on all exterior doors and be sure to re-key other locked, unattached structures like garages and sheds.

3. Check in with Your Neighbors

If you’re not able to visit your property frequently, be sure to check in with those neighbors that you know and trust who are open for business. Explain to them that you’re a local commercial real estate owner and that your property may be vacant for a while. Be sure to give them your phone number and ask them to call or text if they see anything suspicious.

4. Outsource Landscaping and Snow Removal

Consider hiring a landscaper to keep up the curb appeal. Your business will more likely look occupied and the exterior will be sparkling clean when the time comes to re-open.

5. Visit Your Commercial Property Weekly

When possible, be sure to stop by and inspect your property at least once a week. Collect trash, sweep up and be sure to verify all entry points are secure.

6. Consider Winterizing Your Plumbing

If your business is going to be closed until spring, investing in a little winterization can help keep copper piping from bursting when the sub-zero weather strikes. Work with a licensed, insured plumber to keep your property’s plumbing and sump pump system safe during the cold months. Be sure to ask for certificates of insurance from all contractors before signing any contracts.

7. Maintain Fire Suppression Systems

If your building has sprinkler systems, continue to have them regularly inspected. This helps to ensure they’ll work when you need them to and will better protect your vacant property.

Smart Security Upgrades for Your Commercial Building

There’s a lot you can do to keep tabs on your commercial real estate property, even when you’re away. Today’s Wi-Fi enabled smart security systems can monitor your property around the clock and alert you to trouble as it’s happening.

1. Install Smart Locks That Open Doors Remotely

Upgrading to Wi-Fi enabled smart locks will allow you to unlock your rental for maintenance workers. These devices can send you notifications when the door’s been locked or closed again later that day.

2. Connect Wi-Fi Enabled Smoke and Fire Alarm Systems

When you install smart smoke and fire technology in your commercial property, first responders can be automatically notified. That fast response time can translate into thousands of dollars saved in the long-term.

3. Install Security Cameras and Motion Sensors Around All Entry Points

In addition to smart doorbell systems, affordable video cameras positioned around your property can deter thieves before they take any action. Motion sensors mounted on interior walls near entryways can trigger an alarm if a thief enters your space.

4. Register Your Security System with Local Authorities

By informing the police that you’ve got an active security system online, you’ll be able to take advantage of their early response protocols when your property is empty.

5. Install Motion-Activated Exterior Lighting

Motion sensors with energy efficient floodlights can drive thieves away quickly. Install them around the perimeter of your property.

6. Use Moisture Sensors to Monitor for Leaks and Floods

Installing moisture sensors near appliances and above the water line in your sump pump’s tank can help you stay ahead of significant damage to your property.

7. Purchase a Smart Thermostat

Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri-enabled thermostats allow you to easily communicate with the thermostat, and their apps give you remote access to the HVAC system. You’ll be able to remotely view and adjust the temperature, too.

Business Insurance for Your Big Investments

Challenging times like these call for smart, creative strategies that can benefit your property now and well into the future. Get the most out of your property investments by insuring them carefully with American Family Insurance. Our skilled and experienced agents can help craft a customized policy. With our comprehensive coverage options, you’ll find the great ways to protect your important investments.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.

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