What are the risks with rising numbers of empty community and social housing facilities? Here, Jane Butler, Director of Blue Door Property Guardians, gives her take on how to cost- effectively combat some of the issues.

Across the UK, well over 500,000 homes are sitting empty. And, in a recent research study by the BRC-LDC Vacancy Monitor conducted in late April 2021, the rate of vacancies across the retail sector in the UK was up by 14.1% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same time last year - meaning, vacant property numbers have risen for the third consecutive year. In London alone, the city has recorded the highest retail vacancy rates in five years, with a 47% year-on-year increase.

While the number of empty residential, commercial, and community properties continues to rise, so does the number of people struggling to find affordable housing. Surely there is more we can do to tackle this growing problem? Because as the number of people in need of affordable housing continues to climb, so do the risks for these vacant properties and the dangers they create in communities.

Properties of any kind that aren’t in use or well-protected instantly become susceptible to rapidly depreciating problems. Due to lack of affordable accommodation and escalating rental markets, squatting has long been an issue for vacant properties across the UK, but with it comes a slew of other problems. When properties are squatted, they usually face vandalism as well. Such was the case at a former care home in Huyton.

The property, which has been empty for a decade, has faced several issues. The property quickly became a target for vandalism and a dumping ground for household trash, including furniture and appliances. On top of that, there have been a number of reports that the building has been set on fire multiple times.

Properties that are occupied need constant maintenance to ensure continued structural integrity, so those which stand empty most definitely need attention to avoid them falling into disrepair and losing value. As properties lie empty, they immediately begin deteriorating. They become breeding grounds for pests such as rats as well as petty crime.

Councils across the UK have begun cracking down on property owners who leave their dwellings unoccupied.


According to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, the government has given councils strong powers and incentives to tackle the problem head- on. This includes the option to increase council tax by up to 200%, with that number rising to 300% next year.

Insurance is another area to consider. Insurers base their policies around occupied properties, so when a property is vacant, owners can face a steep increase in their policy price with far more stipulations.

At Blue Door, we ensure vacant properties remain free from the troubles they attract. With a strategically structured model called ‘Property Guardianship,’ we work with property owners to secure their properties at zero- cost by carefully vetting working professionals looking for affordable accommodation. The ‘Guardians’ move into the property on a temporary basis in order to protect it 24/7, and do so until a property owner has decided the property’s future.

“Councils across the UK have begun cracking down on property owners who leave their dwellings unoccupied.”

Property owners no longer need to worry about their vacant properties. They have more well-rounded security options than traditional security guards or fencing - options that don’t cost them anything and even generate income in some cases. Owners must protect their assets and understand that there are zero-cost solutions that comply with industry standards outside expensive traditional practices.

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