With around 20% of UK warehouses and factories currently unoccupied, Insurance group Aviva is warning commercial property owners of the need to secure vacant buildings.

According to the insurer, there are around 9,000 fires in unoccupied buildings each year in the UK, and empty commercial premises, particularly in out-of-town areas, are high risk.

If not fire, other common problems with unoccupied properties include theft of fixtures and fittings fly tipping and occupation by squatters or travellers.

Property owners are therefore advised to inform their insurance company, the fire service and police when premises are empty, having first accounted for all keys and produced a list of key holders.

They should also cut off utilities and redirect mail, but at the same time keep the building looking occupied.

Rubbish and combustible materials should be cleared away leaving nothing that could be used to start a fire, or might appear to be of value.

“It also makes sense to make a note of the building’s condition when it first becomes unoccupied and maintaining a log of weekly inspections to provide evidence, should the need for a claim arise” comment’s Andrew Bourne’s David Crowther.

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