Risks of Having a Vacant Rental Property

The longer your property stays vacant the more money goes down the drain. What’s more, your property could become vulnerable to several risks. Thieves, for instance, could break into your property and walk away with valuable items.

Filling vacancies quickly is key. When your property is occupied, you’ll not only be able to enjoy a passive income, but you’ll be able to preserve your property’s value as well.

That said, vacancies are inevitable; every landlord will experience them at some point in their career. It’s therefore important to know how to safeguard your property before you find a replacement tenant.

At TE Johnson & Sons, we’ll walk you through four risks of having a vacant property and what measures you can take to protect it and void unexpected costs.

1. A Vacant Property Is at Higher Risk of Looting and Vandalism

An unoccupied property is susceptible to vandals and thieves. And without a home security system in place, a thief could easily steal valuable items such as air conditioning systems, appliances, aluminum pipes, copper wires, and antique pieces.

Vandals also find unoccupied properties attractive. Approximately 15% of Americans become victims of vandalism every year. Vandals cause damage to property by scrawling their names on walls, drawing graffiti, and spray painting walls.

One of the best ways to keep your property secure is by having a fully functioning security system that you can program for remote monitoring.


Aside from using security cameras, you could also take the security of your property a notch higher by installing motion sensors, adding recorded sounds, or asking for help from a trusted neighbor.

2. A Vacant Property Is at Higher Risk of Squatters

Another risk of having a vacant property is the risk of occupation by squatters. Properties that are abandoned, unoccupied, or foreclosed on are havens for squatters. Furnished properties are particularly very attractive.

Unlike thieves and vandals, squatters can obtain certain rights over time. If they occupy your property for long enough, they may even be able to legally own your property through adverse possession.

Getting rid of a squatter can also be a tall order. You may even need to acquire a court order first before having them evicted from your home. The process can take anywhere between a couple of weeks to several months.

One way of dealing with squatters is by regularly visiting the property. During your visits, you should look for any visible signs of entry or occupancy. Another is by posting “No Trespassing” signs on doors and yard gates.

3. Your Property Could Be at Risk of Fire

A vacant property is also more susceptible to a fire outbreak. Failure to perform regular maintenance and maintain heating systems can lead to the accumulation of dirt, causing the motor system to become overheated. Storing combustible materials near the heater could also lead to a fire.


Another source of house fires is arson. This can occur accidentally, for instance, if someone is smoking near the property and it catches fire. Arson can also occur on purpose, for instance, if an intruder decides to set the property on fire.

You can prevent a fire on your property through several ways. One, you can visit the property regularly so that potential intruders see that it’s looked after.

Two, by installing a home security system. Studies have shown that home security systems can be a serious deterrent to potential home intruders.

4. Your Property Could Be at Risk of Water Damage

Water damage is one of the most expensive housing repairs a homeowner can confront. The restoration process can cost anywhere between $1,304 and $5,514.

From leaking pipes to floods, a vacant home is at higher risk of water damage in several ways. If your property has been vacant for some time, there are a few things you could do to prevent water damage.

The first thing to do is to shut off the water. Go to the water meter and stop all water supply to the property. You can find the meter either in the yard near the sidewalk or down the street.

Once you’ve shut off the main water supply valve, drain the lowest faucets. Leave them open until all water has drained completely.


Another thing to do is turn off the dishwasher. The last thing you’d want is a gradual leak or a sudden and accidental leak from happening.

How Can a Landlord Minimize the Risks of Leaving a Property Vacant?

The following are a few effective security measures you could take to mitigate the risks of leaving your property vacant:

  • Create the appearance of activity: Keep your property well-lit by installing motion-activated exterior lights on both the front and back of the property. You could also install timed lights to create an illusion that the home has a resident.
  • Inspect the property regularly: During inspections, make sure to inspect the locks and doors. Check for signs of damage that go beyond normal wear and tear and ensure that door locks are working as they should.
  • Hire a property management company: Hiring a good property manager can ensure that your property is not only protected, but that you earn a passive income every month.


There are numerous risks to having a vacant rental property. Luckily, there are a couple of things you could do to prevent damage to your investment. Hiring a property manager, however, remains the best, most stress-free way of keeping your property safe.

At TE Johnson & Sons, we can help rent out your Winston-Salem property to a great tenant. What’s more, we can also manage them on your behalf, saving you stress and time.

As a full-service property management company, we can help sort out all your property management needs, from marketing your property, to screening tenants, to collecting rent, to managing all paperwork. Get in touch to learn more!

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