BUNZL Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies Blog

Vacant Commercial Property Maintenance

Commerical properties need maintenance – whether or not they are occupied with tenants. Although it may seem like an empty property means less work, if it’s unattended for months on end, it could fall into disrepair.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, offices, factories and warehouses around the country have been left empty for months on end, as workers were sent home on furlough. Although usage has an effect on property wear and tear, non-usage can also have long term effects, especially on water systems.

All empty commercial properties should be protected from theft of assets, unauthorised occupation, vandalism or arson, or trespass before long periods of being empty. This protection will ensure that the building is in the best state possible when it can next be occupied.

How to prepare a building for vacancy

Landlords should do all that they can at the beginning of the vacancy to ensure that the property is protected. Make sure that you contact your insurance company when you know that the property will be left vacant to inform them that it will not be occupied.

The insurer may expect you to secure accessible openings, turn off the heating and water, remove combustibles and fit external doors with sturdy locks. You may also be required to inspect the property at least weekly, with a log kept of all visits.

Making sure you’re compliant with the insurer’s guidelines on dormant buildings means that you won’t risk your insurance being invalidated, ensuring that your dormant or vacant building is still protected.

Preventing bacteria in water

Stagnant water left in pipework and storage systems for too long can become anaerobic through the loss of oxygen. This water is a breeding ground for contaminants, pathogens and pollution like legionella, SARS, e-Coli, salmonella, hepatitis, and more.

To prevent disease being spread through stagnant water, all water systems should turned off at the first opportunity, and prior to the building reopening, should be flushed and cleaned.

Keeping pipes clean

Over long periods of not being used, pipes can develop a build-up of organic waste, which can then cause issues with water availability and cleanliness when it comes time to occupy the building again. However, there are ways you can avoid this, primarily by taking proactive steps to clean the pipes in your building before vacating it.

Using non-pathogenic bacterial treatments like eco-WMT Uric Acid Digester Granules are a good solution as it digests the uric acid crystals/scale digestor with limescale destroying bactophiles incorporated.

Being completely free from pathogens, chemicals, biocides, bleaches, and non-synthetic enzymes, the eco-WMT product also requires no COSHH or PPE to use or handle.

Similarly, these uric acid crystal unblockers use limescale to destroy bacteria in urinals or toilets.

Preparing the property for occupancy

When the vacancy of a building is completed, there are several steps you should take to make sure it’s ready for safe and comfortable re-entry.

  • Do a risk assessment before allowing occupancy, especially in relation to COVID-19
  • Think about whether the premises need a deep clean
  • Consider how long it could take to flush the water tank or pipes
  • Think about what new risks are apparent with reopening the premises

Carrying out a risk assessment and making sure that you’ve considered these questions will allow for a smooth re-entry into your commercial building, and, together with a proper vacancy procedure, will ensure that your pipework and water systems are in perfect health.

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