12 January 2021

The latest Scottish lockdown, and indeed government restrictions since the start of the pandemic last year, have meant that many offices are currently lying empty whilst the majority of workers (who are able to) work from home.

However, despite the offices being unoccupied, business owners have a responsibility and duty of care to look after their business premises, especially with regards to their insurance policy.

The past year has been extremely difficult for business, and now as the cold weather hits, businesses are facing more potential problems.

Regular maintenance is essential for all buildings, and it is particularly important in the case of vacant or empty buildings, so we have put together some tips to protect your empty business premises this winter:

  1. Secure the property

It goes without saying that when leaving your property unoccupied, make sure that everything has been securely locked. And check that the locks meet the requirements of any minimum security condition on your insurance policy. Check your CCTV, security cameras and alarms are fully operative. Consider installing time switches inside the office and check external security lights are working to deter burglars.

  1. Leave nothing on show

If your property is going to be unoccupied, don’t make it appealing to unwanted visitors. Keep blinds closed and lock away laptops, valuables and sensitive files. If you have a reception area that is not staffed daily then try to ensure that mail and deliveries are out of sight.

  1. Beware of winter weather

With below-average temperatures in Scotland throughout December and the Met Office reporting a higher chance of winter cold spells than recent years, it is important to prepare for the worst. Both frost and flooding could cause serious problems. Boilers, pipes and gutters should be regularly checked and it is a good idea to try and leave heating on a timer. Know where the stopcock is so you can turn off the water if you should suffer a burst pipe.

  1. Have procedures in place

Although staff may be working from home, ensure that you have up-to-date procedures in place and employees are aware of their responsibilities in case of an emergency. Have someone check the property regularly (and log all visits) and don’t forget to ensure that the key person has full authority to act on any emergency.

  1. Understand your building cover and provisions

Are you fully insured? From break-ins to business interruption due to damage to your commercial property, make sure you understand your insurance policy, especially with regards to any changes you have made due to covid restrictions. Find out what level of cover your policy offers and ensure that you are covered if your property is going to be empty for a prolonged period of time.

Ensure you check your property on a regular basis – at least once a week – and keep a log of all visits to the premises. Maintain the heating through the winter, and make yourself familiar with any exclusions to your insurance policy. If you are unsure or think you require additional cover then please get in touch.

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