New Accreditation: British Standard 8418 for Monitoring CCTV Alarm Systems

At Orbis we always strive to invest and lead in everything we do. We are happy to announce that our CAT II dedicated alarm receiving centre is now accredited to the British Standard BS8418.

The British Security Associations Industries (BSIA) have put together a helpful customer’s user guide for CCTV alarm monitoring systems, which can be viewed here:

A customer’s guide to BS 8418 detector-activated remotely monitored CCTV systems

Orbis leads the market in providing a one-stop-solution for property managers looking to secure or re-let their vacant properties. For clients not wedded to one option but instead acting in the best interests of their customers, we will recommend the best solution to reduce property risks in a cost-effective way.

Orbis delivers what it promises to clients, when we say we will. We are one company, with strong regional teams, making local decisions, understanding local markets and locations, hiring and developing local people, and doing all we can to improve local communities.

With that as a foundation, we are building on our service offer to be the most trusted partner for our clients, making reoccupation and the best use of sites our shared goal.

Want to find out more about how Orbis can tailor a solution to meet your needs, complete our contact us form here: Contact us today

Getting away this Easter? Top tips to secure your property over the holidays

Approximately six million homes last year were left empty over the Easter weekend. It is therefore important to protect your property whilst you’re away enjoying your holiday. Orbis is the leading empty property protection specialist in the UK and has been protecting and securing empty properties for over 37 years.

To help avoid your property from being the target of theft or damage this weekend we thought we would share with you some top tips to help protect your property!

Top tips:

1/ Secure your property by locking all windows and doors sounds obvious, but it’s crucial to double check and then check again! Insurers may not take your claim seriously if the criminal was able to access your property without any struggle.

2/ Leave your curtains and blinds open, nothing tells potential opportunists that you are away like closed curtains and blinds during the day.

3/ Cancel or amend any milk or newspapers and other regular deliveries which may be left outside of your property.

4/ Befriend your neighbours, one that isn’t going away for the weekend! This helps give you an extra pair of eyes and ears over your property whilst you’re away, if you’re comfortable you could even borrow them a key to go in turn on your lights or water your potted plants. If you’re not the social type, you can sign up to a neighbourhood watch scheme if there is one in your area.

5/ Cut your grass and secure any furniture or other items in your garden, other than the obvious risk that someone will steal your belongings, freshly cut grass and a clean garden is a good deterrent.

6/ Don’t tell the world you’re going away, it’s always tempting to share the great news that you’re getting away to somewhere beautiful for the weekend, however social media can be like an advertising tool for criminals, though if you absolutely have to shout about it be sure to check your privacy setting to see who can see your posts.

7/ If you’re tech savvy, make use of apps! There are several apps on the market for smartphones and other devices that will turn on your lights and even activate your home’s alarm system if you have one.

Fake workmen turn hotel into drug den

Terrace Guest House in Royal Terrace, which overlooks Adventure Island, Southend-on-Sea, is now believed to house up to 30 people who moved in after squatters allegedly posed as workmen and took over the building. Now neighbours are concerned that the vacant hotel has been turned into a drug den.

There are many stories of squatters taking over and moving large groups into vacant properties, such as our earlier hot topic on the Royal Mint, but it is an even greater concern when criminals start to operate their illegal activity from the premises. There is an increased risk of vandalism and arson, as well as potential damage to the owner’s reputation.

The squatters claim to have a legal right to dwell in the property as it’s a non-residential building and so isn’t protected by section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act. This is why Orbis urges property owners and managers to consider the need for a professional vacant property management expert. Sites can be assessed and fitted with a bespoke solution to property against intruders and would be squatters.

Residents and reporters from the local paper have witnessed people waiting across the road from the hotel and signalling to an upper window, before being allowed into the property and then leaving hours later looking ‘bleary-eyed’. Unfortunately, the police won’t intervene as squatting is a civil matter and the leaseholders will have to seek an interim possession order.

However, this will take time and in the meantime the property could be getting damaged, the owner’s reputation may be suffering and repair costs will be mounting. Ideally, properties need to be professionally secured to prevent illegal entry from ever happening, thus avoiding the cost and stress caused.

Commercial property owners to pay service charges on empty buildings in Scotland

The Scottish Government has announced that empty commercial property owners will have to pay water service charges from the 1 April 2017. Previously, void building owners received a 100 per cent relief from payment, but this will now only apply for the first three months, at which point the owner will only receive a 10 per cent relief.

“The introduction of these charges is on the basis that vacant properties benefit from water and sewerage services and should therefore pay for them,” said Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham. “It is expected to generate some £15m a year additional wholesale revenue for Scottish Water, allowing business charges to be frozen.”

This decision may discourage building owners from leaving any of their portfolio long term void. It seems to fit with efforts in Scotland to reduce vacant property, in line with work by organisations like the Scottish Empty Housing Partnership, who are targeting the residential vacant property sector.

With the increased efforts in Scotland to reduce void premises, we’re encouraging property owners and managers to consider the vacant property management solutions they have currently implemented, and to evaluate whether it is suitable and efficient to protect their long term investment. A professional service can offer a bespoke solution, using a range of methods such as steel or polymer doors and screens, CCTV, alarms, and access management systems, to ensure vacant properties are secured from vandalism, arson and squatting. This will make the renovation and return to use process much easier and cheaper for the building owner or manager.

However, the decision to reduce the water services relief has received some criticism and has even been seen as an attack on businesses. Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative finance spokesman, said: “We should be supporting firms at this tricky time, not penalising them further.” He also added that: “The Scottish government may say it is ‘generating’ the extra money, but in truth it’s simply another tax raid.”

Regardless of the political agenda behind the tax, managers and owners should ensure that they are protecting their investment by protecting the longevity of their building assets.

Protect your properties from freezing weather conditions

Extreme freezing weather conditions in recent years have produced subzero temperatures for prolonged periods in the UK. With the Met Office publishing yellow and amber warnings across the mainland in December and temperatures plummeting to -10ºc in some parts of the UK*, it has become a priority for many to protect their properties. *Evening Standard:

Adverse weather conditions can lead to an increased chance of burst pipes and leaks within vacant properties, which the Association of British Insurers (ABI) advise claims could cost in excess of £7500 per incident; not to mention the subsequent expensive repair bill.

So what’s the solution? 

In order to comply with empty premises insurance conditions, property managers or pretty much anyone responsible for vacant property need to ensure that all unoccupied premises are drained down and water isolated between November and March.

That’s where we come in

Orbis provides drain down and water isolation services included in our property inspections nationally, to find out more about how we can help you, let us know more about you and your needs on the form below.

For other solutions we provide, see our Freezing Weather Conditions page.


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