Risks of Having a Vacant Rental Property

Vacancies are inevitable in the life of any landlord. A tenant will eventually move out, leaving your property vacant. While this is normal it is not desirable. You want to shorten the vacancy period as much as possible.
There are many risks that come with having a vacant rental property. Not only won’t you make any earnings, but a vacant unit will also be susceptible to certain external forces.

Issues With Having Vacancies

We will walk you through 6 possible risks your property may be exposed to when left vacant.

Theft and Vandalism

A property that isn’t occupied is a magnet for potential thieves and vandals. Some of the features they will want to steal include air conditioning units, appliances, and expensive furnishings. Others include antique pieces and copper wires.

Aside from theft, a vacant unit is also susceptible to vandalism. Those looking for a cheap thrill may draw graffiti, spray paint the walls, or scrawl their names somewhere in the unit. Luckily, you can do a couple of things to keep potential thieves and vandals away from your property. You can:

  • Install a security system that allows you to monitor the property remotely
  • Install alarms and security cameras
  • Make the property appear as though it’s occupied by leaving a light on
  • Install motion sensors to alert you when somebody is near the property

Squatters

Unfortunately, squatters find unoccupied properties alluring, especially those that are furnished and in a move-in ready state.
empty property with a broom and renovation tools
Squatters have certain rights. For one, you cannot just kick them out of your property. You must follow an eviction process, which might be costly and drag on for months. If they occupy the property for long enough, they can obtain Adverse Possession rights, giving them legal ownership of the property.

The following are some tips to help you keep your rental property away from potential squatters.

  • Ask a neighbor to keep a watchful eye on your property if you are away
  • Secure all doors and windows
  • Post “No Trespassing” signs on the property
  • Inspect the property yourself from time to time
  • Change your locks when a tenant moves out
  • Install an alarm system

Fire

A vacant property is vulnerable to fires. Without a tenant, it’s possible for the heating systems to accumulate dirt which can cause the motor system to overheat. The heater may also be near combustible materials which can result in a fire.
Besides home systems, another risk your vacant property may be vulnerable to is arson. An intruder may purposely set your property on fire for many reasons. It’s also possible for someone to start a fire accidentally while, for instance, smoking near your property.
someone holding a lit match
Prevent possible fires in your rental property with these tips:

  • Track intruders by checking your security system
  • Inspect the property from time to time
  • Maintain the curb appeal to give an impression of an occupied property

Water Damage

Water damage can result from a number of scenarios, from severe weather, to clogged gutters, to leaking pipes, to blocked drains, to malfunctioning sprinkler systems. It is arguably the most costly repair required for your home.

Water damage will also usually bring about mold – another landlord nightmare. When this happens, your property can become inhabitable.

The following are a few things you can do to keep your property safe from water damage.

  • Drain the entire plumbing system
  • Monitor the air conditioning system for signs of mold
  • Proactively check for leaks
  • Keep your gutters clear of debris
  • Leave on the heat to keep pipes from freezing
  • Inspect the roof

Insurance Policy

Vacant homes are at high risk of damage from vandals, squatters, and defaults in the home itself. Additionally, emergency responses may not be as fast as there is no tenant to report them on time. The problem can quickly become big and costly.

For these reasons, vacant units are usually not covered under standard insurance policies. Therefore, you may need to take an extra one to cover your vacant property.
 plants growing up the side of an empty property
Vacant home insurance coverage can cost more than a traditional homeowners policy. What’s more, in many cases, home insurers may refuse to cover empty homes after 30 or 60 days.

Lost Income

Having a vacant unit means that you won’t have an income to look forward to at the end of the month. But, just because your property is vacant doesn’t mean you’re free of other obligations, such as paying property taxes and your mortgage.

Tips to Reduce Vacancies

It’s in every landlord’s best interest to keep vacancies as low as possible. The following are some tips to help you along the way.

  • Upgrade your rental property to make it look desirable in the eyes of prospective tenants.
  • Give tenants good reason to rent your property or renew their lease agreement once it expires.
  • Charge the right rent to keep your rental property competitive in the local rental market.
  • Inspect your property regularly to ensure it is in great condition both during the tenancy and when the property is vacant.

Vacancies are profit killers. In addition, there are a number of risks that come with having a vacant rental property. Follow these valuable tips to keep your property safe as you wait to find a quality tenant.

A Property Manager Can Help

For expert help in keeping your property safe and filling vacancies quickly with a great tenant, look no further than Limestone Country Properties. We are a top property management company in New Braunfels. We can help you make the most out of your rental estate income. Get in touch to learn more!

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I've worked with Limestone Country Properties for 4 years or more. I have 2 rental homes and I wouldn't consider using anyone to lease these properties beside Limestone. They protect my interest in my property in who they lease to. I was out of town when one of my homes was being rented and they took care of everything making it a worry free vacation for me. I had full confidence that I was being protected all the way around. Limestone knows the rules and follows them to a T to protect their landlords and properties. I have nothing but good to say about them, and much praise.

Ellen Bunde