Protecting a residential property standing empty


If you have a property that stands empty, whether it ends up being for a few days or weeks or even months, there are easy ways to make sure your property will be safe and secure.

A popular trend in many areas across South Africa is to convert residential homes into offices, but with the restrictions and fears around the pandemic continuing, many of these homes are now being left empty or sporadically utilised as employees elect to work remotely.

Charnel Hattingh, Head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity ADT, says unlike an office complex, these homes do not have the same security protocols and in some cases guards to protect the property and they are now becoming vulnerable.

According to her, a great place to start ensuring that your home stays safe, is by getting to know the neighbours. “The people living next door will be the first ones to see if anything is wrong, for example a broken window or signs of unauthorised entry. Speak to them and make sure that they have your contact details. The same can be said for making contact with a body corporate if your property happens to be in a block of flats.”

The next step is to focus on the perimeter. “Start with the border wall and check that there are not holes in the fence or other easy ways for would-be criminals to gain access to your property.

“Lock all outside gates, doors and windows, and give some consideration to using an electric fence or a beam alarm that is linked to an armed response company. Draw the curtains, and also consider installing a light system that is linked to a timer which can help create the impression that someone is home,” says Hattingh.

Step three, she adds, is to cancel deliveries and take care of the garden. “It is very easy for a property to look unoccupied if the newspapers start piling up outside the front door or if the lawn starts growing out of control.”

Hattingh also recommends that home owners alert their armed response companies about properties that will be standing empty for any extended period of time.

“By letting us know that no one will be home, we can ask our armed response officers to keep a lookout for any suspicious activity in and around your property. It also means that we will know exactly whom to contact in any emergency, especially if we need to gain access to your home as quickly as possible.”