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Simon Alderson, VPS Development Director

landlords can also make good use of more advanced technological solutions

Although the Met Office has played down media hype of an approaching ‘snowmageddon’, VPS, the UK’s leading vacant property specialist, is urging owners, asset and facilities managers to tick off VPS’ ‘Don’t Dice with the Ice’ Checklist for their vacant properties.

“We want to save people, businesses and organisations the pretty horrible and costly effects that a sudden freeze can have on vacant properties.” Says Simon Alderson, Development Director for VPS, and also the chairman of the British Security Industry Association’s Vacant Property Protection Group.

“And apart from the regular ‘winter safe’ advice to inspect premises, make good any obvious structural damage, drain water tanks down and lock stopcocks, landlords can also make good use of more advanced technological solutions.” Mr Alderson explains.

Leaks from a small burst, fractured or cut pipe can release thousands of gallons of water if left unnoticed. The average insurance claim is an estimated £25,000 but costs can reach £100,000 or more for water damage to commercial properties.

“There’s a clever device available, the Veriflow, which doesn't require any plumbing but which simply fits over a water pipe and can detect if the flow inside the pipe changes. Not only that, but it also senses if someone is trying to cut the pipe.” says Mr Alderson.

Metal thefts have been reported to be falling since the new legislation has come into force in the UK, but VPS estimate there are still 500 such thefts a week in Britain, so it remains a major concern with empty properties, which are particularly vulnerable. The Veriflow device can link to a SmartAlarm system that reports incidents in real time to a monitoring station, and could also prove a boon to construction sites that are deserted during the seasonal break in December.

“Our experience has taught us that prevention really is better than cure, hence this ‘Don’t Dice with the Ice’ campaign. Follow the tips there, or ask a professional like VPS to provide an ‘Inspect and Protect’ service. A property that’s been protected is more likely to be re-occupied sooner when new tenants are found” Mr Alderson concludes.

In addition to turning off the water supply to an empty property, the checklist also recommends:

• The mains water tap or stopcock is securely locked to prevent vandals from re-starting the flow of water, and water flow detectors installed

• The water system is drained down to prevent frozen pipes, and additionally to reduce the potential build up of Legionella and other bacteria in stagnant water

• Roofing and guttering is checked for defects, and security measures are in place to prevent metal theft (which can lead to water damage)

• Other utilities are turned off such as gas and electricity

The Top Ten Tips checklist is available to download for free from www.vpspecialists.co.uk/winter

ENDS

Notes for editors:

About VPS:

VPS secure more than 50,000 properties and employ over 1700 staff in locations across the UK and mainland Europe. They specialise in securing, maintaining and managing vacant property across a wide range of customer and industry sectors.

They carry out over 100,000 inspections a year for commercial and residential property owners and managers.

Core building services cover the vacant, unoccupied and void property lifecycle from an initial risk assessment, to security, including guarding, monitoring, clearing, cleaning, maintenance and preparation. These services protect properties against unauthorized access and a variety of hazards such as arson, theft, squatting and unauthorized occupation.

More About Water damage from the impact of Winter:

Statistics from AXA insurance state that over the last two winters customers were three times more likely to have an escape of water claim than to have a theft claim. As a result, one in a thousand people fell victim to burst pipes, with the average claim reaching £25,000.
Burst water pipes caused 3500 claims a day during the height of the 2010 winter cold spell. (Association of British Insurers)

Press contacts

For more information regarding VPS or this release, please contact:

Graham Sievers
+44 (0)77 222 82 946
Knole Park Ltd, PR
graham.sievers@gmail.com

or Natasha Estrin
Marketing Manager
+44(0)8706 08706 2
VPS, Premiere House, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6 1JH
www.vpspecialists.co.uk
natasha.estrin@vpspecialists.com

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