Is it time to check your commercial premises insurance is up to date? From the 1st September squatting in residential buildings in England and Wales became a criminal offence, with perpetrators facing up to six months in jail and a maximum £5,000 fine.
However, this does not apply to commercial properties, which in light of the recent legislation, could now become more vulnerable as squatters seek alternative properties to occupy.
If you have a commercial premises insurance policy covering your building, have you advised your insurance broker or company that the property is unoccupied? It’s important you tell them as it is considered a material fact and as such must be declared.
What can you do to protect your property?
- Consider boarding up windows, doors and letter boxes
- Conduct regular internal and external inspections or commission an agent to do it for you
- Make sure you have a an adequate physical secuity on windows, doors etc
- Make sure that any CCTV equipment is working and switched on
- Turn off and drain down any water supplies, to prevent use by squatters
- Consider additional security, such as alarm systems or even security guards
Beware – The above are just a handful of things you can do to avoid damage by squatters. However, your commercial premises insurance policy might also come with conditions that you must adhere to when the property becomes unoccupied, so it’s important to know where you stand so as to ensure you are properly protected.
For landlords wishing to protect themselves against the cost of evicting squatters, there is a sepcialist insurance policy available for this. Eviction of Squatters Insurance is a low-cost but valuable addition to a property owner’s insurance programme. Policicies can run for either 6 or 12 months.
If you are unsure about what cover you have or what you are missing, it’s well worth speaking to a property insurance broker that regularly deals with property insurance.