- Fire: Some vacant properties have had fire protection systems disconnected or compromised, or the systems are simply not being adequately maintained. These properties can become targets for arsonists or others that start fires.
- Freeze Losses: Failure to maintain the operation of heating systems or to properly drain and prepare automatic sprinkler systems, water piping or roof drains can lead to the systems freezing and flowing water into the structure.
- Vandalism: Vacant buildings can become gathering points for groups of individuals, particularly youths, looking for a place to hang out. This can result in vandalism and damage to the structure from forced entry, or intentional “ripping” of the building for fun or criminal purposes.
- Theft: The theft of copper piping and wire for sale on the scrap metal market has drawn thieves to vacant structures where they can remove the materials more easily. Additionally, other building components and contents can potentially be targets for theft.
- Liability: Individuals on the property or those attempting to enter the structure who get injured can bring a lawsuit. In some instances, criminals may use a building as a base of operations and prey on people passing by or in the local area. This can cause a liability loss because the victims can bring suit against the property holder.
- Mold: Buildings that are not properly maintained can be at a high risk for mold growth and subsequent damage.
This list is just a sampling of the more common exposures that exist when properties sit vacant. It is vitally important that vacant properties are well managed to reduce the potential for losses and costly litigation until the property can be removed from the portfolio. OneBeacon’s Foreclosed Property Risk Control Strategy and Foreclosed Property Survey Form provide general guidelines for managing the risks associated with idle properties.