Property Management Blog

Risks of Having a Vacant Rental Property

Pinnacle Property Management - Wednesday, March 3, 2021

risks of vacant rental

As a landlord, sometimes you’ll experience a vacant unit. One tenant may leave before you find another replacement. While this is a normal occurrence, it’s advisable to fill your vacancies as quickly as possible. 

Not only can vacant rental properties lead to a loss in passive income and a gain of maintenance costs, but vacant units are also vulnerable to damage from external forces. 

In this post, we are looking at some possible risks your vacant property can face if it’s left vacant for too long.

1. Theft & Vandalism

Some people have made a livelihood of looting vacant properties. They can easily sneak out appliances, air conditioning units and expensive furnishing. Other common expensive features that thieves can steal are copper wires, aluminum pipes and antique pieces. 

Vacant units are also subject to vandalism. Sometimes, when people find a vacant property, they’ll likely be tempted to spray paint walls, draw some graffiti and scrawl their names. This can be an exciting activity for those looking for cheap thrills. 

TIP: How to Guard Against Thieves/Vandals

Here are some ideas to consider to discourage intruders and vandals:

  1. Make sure you have a fully functioning security system that you can program for remote monitoring.
  2. Have a working alarm and security camera.
  3. Install motion sensors and timed lighting.
  4. Leave recorded sounds, such as a TV blaring, to make it appear as though the unit is occupied. 

thieves in rental

2. Squatters

Another type of unwanted guest in your vacant rental is squatters. If it’s easy to notice that your property sits uninhabited, it can lure squatters. Especially with a furnished unit, squatters can live in your unit rent-free using all the appliances and furnishing. If your unit is spacious enough, they might even allow others to live with them and collect rent.

You must be careful with squatters because after a certain period, they earn rights. This means it becomes challenging to remove them. In some cases, you’d need go to the courts and file a case to regain possession of your rental unit.

TIP: How to Deal with Squatters

Here are some ways to deal with squatters:

  1. Install a working security system that allows you to view your entire property and track squatters remotely. Ensure you can see all areas of the property, not just one section.
  2. Install an alarm system.

3. Fires

Vacant properties are vulnerable to fires given that no tenant is using the home’s systems. Heating systems that aren’t well maintained can accumulate dirt and lead to an overheated motor system. There may also be combustible materials near the heater resulting in a fire explosion.

Another risk is arson. While some people can accidentally start a fire while smoking near the property, other intruders may purposely set fire to a vacant property. Intruders hanging in the vacant rental can also forget to put out any candles they brought with them.

fire in rental property

TIP: How to Prevent a Fire in Your Property

Here are some tips to monitor your vacant unit and to make it seem as though it is occupied. These tips will indirectly help prevent a fire from occurring in your vacant rental.

  1. Check your security system to track intruders.
  2. Visit the empty rental regularly so that it doesn’t look unoccupied.
  3. Ensure you have impeccable landscaping so that your property doesn’t look abandoned. 
  4. Regularly collect junk mail.
  5. Avoid leaving your property for several weeks without inspection.

4. Water Damage & Mold

Water damage can occur from leaks and broken pipes. It’s one of the most costly housing repairs to confront. 

If it rains a lot or moisture gets inside the house, your rental can also be susceptible to another landlord nightmare: mold presence. This can make your rental property a health hazard and inhabitable.

The danger of a vacant home is that leaks that can flood the house can be hard to detect. Water damage problems may only be recognized once a new tenant moves in. This can cause inconvenience to the new tenants and drain your pockets.

TIP: How to Prevent your Property from Water Damage

Here's what you can do to prevent your vacant rental from water damage:

  1. Ensure your plumbing is drained.
  2. Monitor your air conditioning unit settings. Mold can be insidious and would require remediation so it’s best to save yourself the trouble.

mold in rental property

How to Minimize the Risk of Leaving a Property Vacant

The best, most stress-free way to keep your vacant rental safe is to hire a property management company that'll supervise your empty rental. At Pinnacle Property Management, we’d be happy to help minimize the risk of theft, squatters, water damage and fire that vacant rentals can bring.

You can also minimize this risk by attracting long-term renters. When tenants rent long term, you don’t have to deal with empty rental units and all of its associated risks. 

Bottom Line

When you have a vacant unit, you should do everything you can to try and fill it as soon as possible. This is because a vacant unit is vulnerable to risks, such as theft, vandalism, squatters, arsonists, and water damage. 

For more information or to work with us, feel free to contact Pinnacle Property Management.


Pinnacle Property Management
CA BRE # 01905815
22700 Crenshaw Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90505
Ph: (310) 530-0606
Fax: (310) 626-9786
Email: pinnacle@pinnaclepmc.com

We are open from 8:30am to 5:00pm M-F.

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