Secure unoccupied industrial premises warns Aviva

Article date: 27 April 2010

With around 20% of UK warehouses and factories unoccupied1, Aviva is warning property owners of the need to take all necessary precautions to secure vacant buildings.

Mark Dunham, commercial property underwriting manager at Aviva, says: “It is important that property owners apply risk control measures at the time a building becomes unoccupied so that the key risks of arson, malicious damage and escape of water are minimised. The level and quality of the risk management put in place will influence the premium and insurance cover and could in some instances be a condition of cover being provided.

“Each year there are around 9,000 fires2 in unoccupied buildings.  Where these are located in secluded areas such as out-of-town industrial or retail parks, the need for adequate security is paramount as they are particularly vulnerable to attack,” warns Dunham.

He adds: “Other common problems with unoccupied properties include theft of the fixtures and fittings, especially non-ferrous metals, fly tipping and occupation by squatters or travellers which is why it is important to monitor the site frequently to ensure the property remains adequately protected.”

Aviva, and its preferred supplier, SitexOrbis, the UK's leading provider of integrated property and security services, have developed a series of top tips, to help property owners ensure their unoccupied building is safe and secure:

  • Allocate responsibilities: delegate responsibility for each specific aspect of unoccupied property management to an individual, and tell everybody concerned who is responsible for what.
  • Inform the insurance company, fire service and police: your insurance may be invalid if you do not tell the insurer that the property is unoccupied.  Account for all keys, list key holders and give the list to the police.
  • Cut off all utilities, but keep the building looking occupied: turn off all gas, water and electricity supplies at the mains as required by the insurance company Arrange for all mail to be forwarded.
  • Clear away all rubbish and combustible materials including such items as gas cylinders: leave nothing that could be used to start a fire or which might appear to be of value, both inside and outside the building.

    Establish what risk assessments and improvements are required by the insurance company and do them immediately.
  • Have an independent professional survey done: have evidence of the building’s condition when it first becomes unoccupied. This can be used as evidence of loss or damage in the event of intrusion or arson.
  • Inspect weekly and keep it maintained: keep a log of weekly inspections including details of any required repairs and maintenance and the arrangements made for these to be attended to.
  • Attend to any damage immediately: if it is left untouched it can easily worsen or become dangerous.
  • Introduce security measures: consider erecting perimeter fencing, hiring security guards, installing security lighting. Ensure any locks, grilles, CCTV and alarms are in good working order.

    Ask experts to review all security measures and to also include health & safety checks and compliance.

“SitexOrbis has an array of constantly updated services and technologies that secure, protect and monitor vacant properties,” said Mark Cosh, European director of SitexOrbis.

“We work closely in partnership with Aviva to provide cost-effective solutions to resolve insurance issues when properties become vacant, recording and reporting on all visits so that there is a complete audit trail that can be reviewed and tracked on line.”

Aviva has teamed up with SitexOrbis to provide integrated property and security services, designed to provide peace of mind for property owners and alleviate the burden of premises that become unoccupied. Through this relationship, customers have access to discounted services to help minimise the risk of arson or malicious damage to empty properties which will satisfy duty of care responsibilities, protect third parties and restore and maintain the external appearance of buildings and grounds.

To download a copy of the Vacant Property Code of Practice, visit  (PDF 224KB). 


For further information, please contact:
Jo Rosenberg or Heather Price Longden at Staniforth on 0161 919 8014 / 8010 or Vicki Burn from Aviva’s press office on 01603 684224 / 07800 692909. 

1 2008 data supplied by SitexOrbis
2 Aviva Risk Management Solutions 

Notes to editors:

Aviva is the world’s fifth largest* insurance group, serving 53 million customers across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

Aviva's main business activities are long-term savings, fund management and general insurance, with worldwide total sales of £45.1 billion and funds under management of £379 billion at 31 December 2009.

We are the largest insurance services provider in the UK and one of the leading providers of life and pensions products in Europe.  

The Aviva media centre at includes images, company and product information and a news release archive.

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* based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2008 

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