For anyone with a vacant property, the idea of having squatters move in while you’re not there to monitor the situation can be a worrying thought. It’s an invasion of your privacy that you shouldn’t have to put up with, and can lead to vandalism, accidental damage or theft. If it’s not their property, they won’t feel inclined to look after it in the same way that you would. Therefore, if your home or office space is going to be sitting vacant for a prolonged period of time, for example while it undergoes a renovation project or while you’re deciding what to do with an inherited house, you should take the appropriate steps to make sure it stays secure.

A man in a hooded top climbing in through an open window. [Source: Avon and Somerset Police. Terms and conditions of use apply.]
One of the first things you should consider is boarding up the windows. While it doesn’t look especially attractive, it means that the glass can’t be broken for squatters to smash their way into the building. Metal boards are better than wood as they’re stronger and more durable, making them harder to smash. Another way to protect your vacant property is to put some deterrents in place. CCTV cameras and security alarms are both effective ways to put off potential squatters, as they will be able to see that you’re serious about keeping your property safe and will probably go elsewhere. If you can’t afford a proper security system, buy a fake alarm. The squatters won’t be able to tell whether or not it’s the real deal, and this should be enough to deter them.

If you’re concerned about unauthorised vehicles parking on your site, hire a concrete barrier to place across any vehicle entrances. This is better than simply placing a cone or lightweight metal barriers across the entrance, as a heavy material like concrete is harder to move. Also check that there are no other points at which cars or caravans can get into your property, such as through unwalled sections of garden. Inform the neighbours of the vacant property that it will be left vacant, and let them know if anyone will be visiting, such as workmen or surveyors. This way, if anyone appears to be gaining access, they can let you know immediately so you can find out what’s going on or call the police.

If there are any gates connecting the property to the street or any public spaces, make sure they’re properly secured. Also, any exterior fences could be painted with anti-climb paint to stop anyone from climbing over. If there are any trees immediately outside the property which could be climbed to jump over the fence, plant thorny plants around the fence on the garden side so that they won’t want to land in. As long as you take sensible steps, your property should stay perfectly safe for as long as you need.Adam Cruxton is a specialist property security consultant who works with landlords to keep vacant property secure and free from unwanted visitors