Latest figures released by the Local Data Company (LDC) have revealed that the vacancy rate in UK town centres has fallen by 0.5 per cent to 11.8 per cent. An improvement which the report says could be due to GDP growing by an estimated three per cent and unemployment falling to six per cent.
The figures for the second half of 2014 compare favourably with the same period in 2013, although the figures also reveal there are considerably higher vacancy rates in the north of the country than in the south.
Responding to the report, Guy Other, chief executive officer at vacant property specialists Orbis, said:
“These statistics suggest that the UK economy is improving tentatively. However vacancy rates are still high and organisations should not become blasé about vacant properties in their portfolio, even if the outlook is improving. Empty buildings can be a magnet for thieves, vandals,arsonists, graffiti and fly-tipping and can lead to a general decline in the surrounding area.”
A vandalised, damaged property can also impact a landlord’s ability to re-let the property, Other added:
“Regular inspections, maintenance and security are key to protecting the asset and improving the chances of it moving on to the next tenant.”
To help facilities professionals who have empty buildings to manage as part of their portfolio, Orbis has revised the British Institute of Facilities Management’s Good Practice Guide to Managing Vacant Property. The guide updates the 2012 version to consider the changes to the squatting law, with squatting in residential buildings now a criminal rather than a civil offence.