As the high street turmoil deepens, a huge surge in vacant shops could lead to the creation of a commercial property wasteland, according to G4S Security Services (UK) (‘G4S’). Following high profile insolvencies including Woolworths and MFI, 90,000 retail outlets are expected to be vacant by the end of February 2009, a figure expected to rise to 135,000 or 15% of all UK shops, by the end of 2009. G4S warns that if these buildings are left unattended, they could easily lose significant value through environmental deterioration, criminal damage and the presence of vermin and other intruders.
In addition to the obvious threats posed by fire, theft and criminal damage, G4S says that vacant properties could devalue significantly, whether through environmental deterioration or if illegally accessed by squatters or other intruders. Fly-tipping in and around a building, along with graffiti provide strong visual clues that it is falling into disrepair. By maintaining a secure and well-presented property, G4S says that owners or property managers can provide a deterrent to those looking to exploit vacant space. G4S warns that vacant premises remain a tax and insurance liability with overheads that still need to be paid, even though the buildings may not be generating income. If utilities are left to run, this can impact on the environment and create further costs.
Richard Fenton-Jones, Managing Director, Monitoring and Response, G4S Security Services (UK) said, “The economic downturn has already resulted in a surge in vacant premises across the country and this is set to get much worse, particularly in the retail sector. With company administrators looking to reduce costs across vast portfolios of soon-to-be vacant properties, it is more important than ever to ensure that sufficient security measures are in place.”
G4S recently launched a specialist vacant property service to provide a secure solution to this growing problem faced by commercial property owners and managing agents. G4S offers a range of specialist services tailored to vacant, and soon to be empty commercial properties, including:
- A full risk assessment
- Physical security protection, including security doors, window grilles and steel sheet
- Temporary alarm installation and monitoring
- Response service for alarm activations and emergency call-outs
- Perimeter protection, key holding and mobile patrol services
- Vacant property clearances and cleans
- Steam cleaning and removal of graffiti
- Vermin removal and pest control
- General and hazardous waste removal
- Abandoned vehicle collection.