Are Empty Retail Units At Risk? How To Protect Them

Knowing your property is at risk is essential for a landlord or business owner. Occupied retail units suffer from break-ins and vandalism, while empty retail units are at risk of similar things and something else. Knowing your property’s risk will help you take the proper precautions to protect it and avoid the loss of property or income.

As a matter of urgency, closed retail stores became dumping grounds for squatters (view source), the homeless, and drug addicts. This can be an issue for landlords, as squatters and drug dealers will affect the safety of your property and put other tenants at risk. Also, cleanup costs associated with the filth left behind by these groups can be enormous.

Overview: Risk Associated With Empty Retail Units

Retail units are often an essential part of any mixed-use development. They’re individual stores, shops, or kiosks that give many properties their identity and provide local traders with a place to sell their wares. But when not occupied, they can become eyesores that detract from the overall appeal of your building.

Empty retail units are a landlord’s nightmare. Not only do they mean no income, but they also represent a great deal of risk. These properties can attract squatters, the homeless, drug addicts, and thieves who can use the space for their own gain.

Here are the risks associated with empty retail units:

  1. Squatting

Squatters are people who occupy a property without the owner’s permission. This can be very dangerous as they could hide drugs, weapons, or other illegal items in the unit. They may also cause damage to property and leave rubbish behind when they move out.

  1. Deterioration

The longer a unit is empty, the more likely it is to deteriorate. This can lead to further costs for landlords should they decide to rent their property again. Elements can also cause damage to items left behind inside the property, which may make them unusable or unsellable.

  1. Vandalism and Theft

Vandalism and theft are common with vacant units. This is because perpetrators believe they can get away with crimes committed in the unit without being caught. Damage caused during or after the invasion may be expensive to repair, depending on the severity of the deterioration.

With the associated risks mentioned above, owners must protect their retail units from intruders.

How To Protect Empty Retail Units

Here are some ways you can safeguard empty retail units:

  1. Manned Guarding

A manned guarding service is the most effective security solution for empty retail units. Having a physical manned guard presence will deter intruders and alert you of any suspicious activity. The guard won’t watch for potential dangers such as fires, floods, and other potential threats to your property.

Many private security companies offer manned guarding services. You can hire them for as long as you need. The cost of hiring a security guard depends on the size and location of your retail unit.

  1. Security Surveillance

Security surveillance is another option for protecting your property. This involves installing CCTV cameras in and around the retail unit to monitor suspicious activity. The advancement of technology helps you monitor your retail unit remotely from anywhere using a smartphone app or website.

However, to get the maximum benefit from security surveillance, installing cameras in areas prone to break-ins, such as entrances, exits, parking lots, and loading docks, is crucial. This will help you to get a clear picture of what’s happening around your retail unit at all times.

  1. Time-To-Time Inspection

Inspecting your retail unit regularly is necessary if you want to protect it. This will help you identify potential problem areas and take corrective action before they become real issues. Also, regular inspections can help you check if your security system is properly working or tampered with.

For instance, you can physically inspect the cameras and ensure they’re in good condition. Also, you can check whether there are cables that have been cut.

  1. Utility Shut-Off

Since your retail unit is vacant, it’ll only make sense to disable the utilities such as water and electricity. This will help you protect your property by preventing any damage that might occur. The last thing you want is to have a pipe burst and flood your business while it’s vacant.

Also, sparking electricity can cause a fire, which is very dangerous to your property. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that the utilities are turned off or disconnected before you leave your retail unit vacant. In addition, you can call an electrician or a plumber to ensure that the electricity and water are entirely disconnected.

  1. Keeping It Clean

An empty retail unit is a magnet for dirt, grime, and dust. If you leave it empty, the dirt and grime will accumulate on your unit’s walls, floors, and ceilings. This can cause problems in the future when you want to rent out the property to a new tenant.

The cleaning cost of the unit could be substantial, and even if you do it yourself, it’ll take a lot of time. Therefore, it’s best to frequently keep your empty retail space clean as it may result in a loss of rental income if you leave it unkempt.


Empty retail units are vulnerable to various risks, such as squatting, vandalism, theft, and property damage. Avoiding these risks and taking steps to keep your empty retail space safe and secure is best. These include manned guarding, installing security cameras, regular inspection, utility disablement, and keeping the property clean.

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