Risks of Having a Vacant Rental Property

A lease will eventually come to an end, and sometimes, you’ll not be lucky enough to find a replacement tenant immediately after the previous one leaves.

Having a vacant property has the potential for a number of risks, ranging from theft and vandalism to occupancy by squatters, to fires, to everything in between.

Luckily for you, there are easy steps you could take to keep your investment safe even when it falls vacant. In today’s blog, we’ll walk you through the common risks of having a vacation rental property and the things you can do to safeguard it.

Your Property Could Be at Risk of Theft and Vandalism

Empty homes are likely targets for vandalism, theft, and damage. Some examples of valuable items that may attract thieves into your house include appliances, expensive furnishings, antique pieces, and even copper wires.

As a landlord with a vacant property, deterrence should be your first line of defense. There is a low likelihood that a thief or a vandal will target your property if they believe it is being watched over or is being lived in.

With that in mind, here are a few things you could do to keep your property safe:

  • Board your property up. One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply hire a handyman with plywood and some screws.
  • Install an alarm system. Choose a high-quality, trusted alarm system and put a sign in the yard or on the front window indicating that the home is being monitored.


  • Install a smart door lock. These ensure that no one can pick the lock if they try to break in.
  • Install motion detector lights. This will light up the area instantly, startling away potential intruders.
  • Invest in a security camera. You can even get security cameras that are an app on your phone, so you can check the footage at any time.
  • Maintain the yard regularly. Overgrown trees and shrubs can make the property look abandoned. As such, trim them up and keep the yard cut and clean.
  • Inspect the home regularly . Whenever you are not able to, ask a neighbor or family member to keep an eye out.

Your Property Could Be Occupied by Squatters

A squatter is someone who occupies a property with no legal claim to it. Squatters particularly like properties that are either abandoned, unoccupied or foreclosed upon.

Unlike trespassers, however, squatters may be able to gain adverse possession of your property through involuntary transfer if they live there long enough. However, In the state of Virginia, a squatter can only claim it after 15 years of continuous possession.

While this is unlikely to happen, at that point, and after meeting other conditions as well, they may automatically become legal owners of the property.

However, even after coming across a squatter, removing them is not as easy as calling the cops on them. Unlike trespassing, squatting is a civil matter with which the police won’t interfere. You will have to go to court and go through the Virginia judicial eviction process, just as you would when evicting a tenant.


To avoid any potential squatters, you may want to do the following.

  • Install a security system that you can use to monitor your property remotely.
  • Block all possible entryways.
  • Hire a property management company to help you rent it out to a great tenant, especially if you are a long-distance landlord or are renting your home when you deploy.

There Is a Risk of a Fire Outbreak

Fires in vacant homes are something any landlord will want to avoid. Common causes are pests and rodents, waste accumulation, and neglected wiring.

To prevent a fire outbreak in your vacant property, you will want to consider:

  • Regularly inspecting elements such as fire sprinklers, alarms, and fire protection control valves.
  • Turning off all utilities.
  • Keeping the landscaping impeccable.

There Is a Risk of Water Damage

Water damage can result from a number of things, including leaks and burst pipes. Repairing damage can be one of the costliest housing repairs a homeowner can make. According to Forbes, the average water damage restoration cost can be between $1,304 and $5,514.

Besides leaks and burst pipes, other common causes of water damage in a home include a malfunctioning sprinkler system, blocked drains, condensation from AC, clogged gutters, and severe weather.


The following are a few things you could do to prevent water damage in your vacant home.

  • Inspect the roof, inside and out.
  • Inspect your gutters for blockages.
  • Proactively check for leaks.
  • Drain the water supply pipes and toilet tanks.
  • Turn off the water supply.

Bottom Line

As a landlord, vacancies can not only affect the safety of your investment but your rental income as well. We highly recommend that you follow the preventative measures we have outlined for you here and invest in good technology, such as motion sensors, alarms, and smart door locks.

If you have any more questions or concerns regarding your rental property, don’t hesitate to reach out to the professionals at Rent Easy. We’re an expert property management company that can help you find a reliable tenant for your Hampton Roads or Virginia Beach rental property. Get in touch to learn more!

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I have had the best experience with RentEasy. They are professional and prompt. They found a qualified tenant in one day to rent my home. They really went above and beyond to get the job done and get it done fast. I will be using RentEasy for all of my properties. Ask for Alex he is great, easy to work with and he aims to please.

Lashanda Barnes