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Risks of Having a Vacant Rental Property

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risks of vacancy

One thing is almost always guaranteed in the life of a landlord – a vacant unit. Your tenant may leave for a myriad of reasons. But regardless, you have the responsibility of finding a replacement tenant as quickly as possible. 

The following are common risks associated with having a vacant rental property in Boise. 

1. Unwanted Guests Occupy Your Property

A vacant property is alluring to squatters. Squatters usually occupy properties that are either abandoned, foreclosed, or otherwise unoccupied. They live there rent-free and without any obligations to care for the property. 

As a landlord, it’s important that you take all the necessary precautions when dealing with squatters. That’s because, after some time, they may be able to obtain certain rights. 

In fact, they may even have a right to take full legal ownership of your property adversely. Removing a squatter can also prove difficult. You may need to go through the courts to have them removed. 

The following are a couple of ways in which you may be able to prevent squatters from occupying your Boise rental property:

  • Install an alarm system
  • Have neighbors keep an eye on the property
  • Put up “no trespassing” signs
  • Make your property look occupied by ensuring your landscaping is impeccable and mail is collected.
  • Hire a property management company to find a reliable tenant quickly
prevent trespassing on properties

2. Theft and Vandalism

This is another risk of having a vacant rental property. Some people may consider looting vacant properties. Properties that are furnished are at a greater risk of theft. Some of the items that thieves target include expensive furnishing, appliances, air conditioning units, and antique pieces. 

Vandals are another group that presents a risk to vacant properties. They may find drawing some graffiti, spray painting walls, and scrawling their names to be exciting activities. However, for you, that can mean costly property damage that can be detrimental to your bottom line. 

The following are some tips to help you discourage thieves and vandals:

  • Install an alarm system on your property
  • Ensure you have a programmable security system
  • Install timed lighting and motion sensors both inside and outdoors
  • Enlist the help of a neighbor

3. Vulnerability to Fires

The systems in the home aren’t in use and when heating systems aren’t properly maintained, they can accumulate dirt and cause their motor system to overheat. What’s more, there may be combustible materials nearby which can result in an explosion. 

Besides fire, another risk a vacant property is exposed to is arson. This can take place either accidentally or purposely. 

The following are some tips to help you prevent a fire from occurring to your rental property:

  • Prevent arson by installing a security system
  • Regularly inspect the property
  • Ensure that combustible materials are kept in secure locations
Fire safety

4. Water Damage

Serious water damage can occur from a number of sources including damaged skylights or windows, clogged drains, broken water pipes, and overland flooding. And when any of these occur, the repairs can be very costly. 

What’s more, water damage isn’t always easily recognizable. Without regular inspections, you can only come to learn of the issue when a new tenant is moving in. And at that point, the problem could have grown to serious levels. 

Water damage also goes hand in hand with another serious problem like mold. Mold is a health hazard, and its presence can render your Boise rental property uninhabitable

The following are some tips to prevent your property from water damage:

  • Install a water leak detection device
  • Properly insulate exposed pipes
  • Prevent water from freezing inside pipes
  • Routinely inspect your roof and windows inside and out
  • Keep your gutters debris-free
  • Check for leaks and water stains proactively

5. Insurance Policy Issues

When a home is vacant, it’s at a higher risk of theft, vandalism, and other forms of property damage. For these reasons, your standard insurance policy may not provide sufficient cover. You may need to take out extra insurance coverage to protect your vacant home. 

This additional coverage can be very costly and given that you aren’t gaining rental income during that time, could hurt your ROI. 

rental income

6. No Rental Income

The goal of any landlord is to make a passive rental income every month. However, this cannot be achieved when you have a vacant rental property. In fact, you lose money every month your property sits vacant through things like taxes, maintenance costs, and mortgage repayments. 

Tips to Minimize Risk to a Vacant Rental Property 

The best way to ensure your rental vacancies are as low as possible is by hiring a property management company. A good property management company will do more than just find a good tenant for your property. 

Other help you can count on them to provide you with includes:

  • Caring for the unit by performing regular inspections
  • Responding to maintenance issues and requests quickly 
  • Marketing your property as soon as you learn that you’ll need a new tenant
  • Screening prospects that seek to live in your rental property
  • Collecting rent on your behalf when it falls due
  • Providing you with financial reporting to help you keep track of your property’s performance

Besides hiring a property management company, the following are other tips to reduce risk to your vacant property:

  • Have all utilities disconnected
  • Keep your property clean
  • Inspect your Boise property on a regular basis
  • Enlist the help of a neighbor
  • Install a security system


Vacancies are bad for landlords. Your home is not only at risk of damage, but it also means operating at negative cash flow. Filling vacancies can be challenging, especially if you’re a long-distance landlord. Luckily for you, there are many steps you can take to mitigate these risks and keep your investment property safe

Hiring a property management company can help protect your vacant properties and ensure that your rental business is performing well. Realty Management Associates can do all this and more! Contact us today to learn about our property management services.