Author: Zbigniew Czajkowski


Unoccupied properties – empty but full of dangers



What are unoccupied properties?

Although deserted and apparently quiet, they are at greater risk than standard residential premises. Unoccupied properties, especially construction sites and extensive manufacturing facilities, tend to be left unattended by people for long periods of time. Large areas of land used for industrial purposes are very easy targets for a number of dangers – both from man and uncontrolled chance events.

Threat of vandalism to vacant buildings

Vacant buildings are more exposed to vandalism than inhabited buildings. After all, an unoccupied facility, when left unattended, is an encouragement for uninvited guests to enter. Along with vandalism, another risky practice frequently occurs – theft. Metal thefts number continues to increase as the licensing cost crisis deepens. This ranges from copper pipes to lead roofs and historic stone.

Waste dumping in unauthorised places is just another offence. Last year, local authorities reported that there were nearly one million incidents of rubbish dumping in unauthorised places, that is 2,700 times a day.

nieruchomości niezamieszkałe zagrożeniaFires, extreme weather conditions and leaks

Further risks to unoccupied properties are arson, exposure to extreme weather conditions or utility leaks. If the latter are not noticed in time, they can severely damage the structure of the building.

It is estimated that around 40% of fires in Poland are arson [1]. Across the country, fire brigade units intervened in 583,300 incidents in 2020 [2]. You can easily estimate how many of these were arson. Water run-off or flood damage, on the other hand, is among the most common types of property damage claims, as insurers pay out £1.8 million each day.

Unoccupied properties and uninvited tenants

When we talk about uninhabited properties, we cannot forget about uninvited and illegal tenants. Since 2012, squatting has been made an offense by the law, so squatters are now targeting more deserted commercial properties. Every week, over 3,000 young people are estimated to take risks by entering vacant buildings or empty building sites. Clearly none of the above situations are likely to occur, but vacant properties can sometimes fall into decay due to either neglect or failure to follow simple inspections and repairs.

There are many potential scenarios for the destruction of unoccupied properties. Although we have not described the risk of collapse and the health and life responsibility of accidental casualties in detail here, these must also be kept in mind. And most importantly, ensure surveillance of the facility in advance, not necessarily relying just on physical security. However, a completely separate article should be devoted to ways to help prevent such situations.

[1] Tomasz Sawicki: Fire/arson/victim statistics in Poland (Polish). [Accessed 2014-03-12].
[2] Emergency Services Activity 2020, accessed at:,17,4.html