So, Hull Fair has started, something that never really appealed to me, but Mrs Bradley took the children and they all seemed to have a good time. They even brought me back some Jack Daniels fudge and brandy snap. We even spotted the vouchers in the Hull Daily Mail so the rides didn’t cost as much as first feared. A satisfactory afternoon by all accounts.
It’s strange how annual events in the calendar focus the mind. The nights are starting to draw in, crisp autumn evenings followed by the slightly damp mornings. It’s a good time to have a quick check on some practical housekeeping points with your commercial property.
Over the summer there may have been a build-up of weeds in gutters. With the addition of falling leaves, gutters could be blocked and when it rains they will overflow and before you know it there are damp issues in the building. It doesn’t cost much to get someone up to check the gutters and it could save you a small fortune in the long run.
As winter approaches, if a building is empty there is a risk of pipes freezing. Frozen pipes may lead to bursts and a major cleaning up operation will ensue. The options are simple and if practical I’d advise leaving some background heat on in a building as most heating systems have a frost setting. This will not only protect the pipes but will save the building from feeling cold and damp when a prospective occupier is looking around it. If background heating isn’t an option then make sure the water is switched off and all pipes and heating systems are drained down.
Many property owners unfortunately overlook the fact that they should notify their insurers if a property is vacant. Most insurers have a code of practice for un-occupied premises. This will usually, but not exclusively, include draining down of water and heating systems, sealing up letter boxes, disconnect electricity and gas supplies, removal of all combustible materials, boarding up of vulnerable windows and doors, regular inspections (and a log kept). Each insurer is different. Do not rely on this list, it is simply a guide, but do notify your insurers and follow their instructions. If you do not and there is the need to make a claim you might not be insured. Where practical we try to negotiate with insurers to allow windows not to be boarded up and electricity to remain connected. We want the property to remain as attractive as possible for marketing purposes.
One particular area which becomes extremely difficult is where a property is let to a tenant but the tenant is no longer in occupation. The landlord might not even be aware that the property is unoccupied. There could still be some time left to run on the lease, the tenant is responsible for all the repairs, is still paying rent and has re-imbursed the buildings insurance premium in accordance with the terms of the lease. In the landlords eyes the property is let and occupied. In reality, and more importantly in the eyes of the insurers, the property is vacant and the landlord will need to notify the insurers and then ask the tenant to comply with the unoccupied premises requirements which the insurer stipulates. We are dealing with two such cases at the moment and I can guarantee it is not straight forward.
If you are an owner of an occupied property and want a chat about the key issues, please give us a call at Clark Weightman. We will be happy to help.