Vacant Buildings

Property Owners’s Responsibilities

vacant house with boarded up windows Property owners must prevent vacant buildings from becoming a nuisance. Vacant buildings must be secured from unauthorized entry and kept free of rubbish, graffiti, litter, rodents, and standing water. Trash accumulations are easy targets for vandals to ignite. To prevent fires, anything combustible in or around the buildings should be removed.

Keeping Unauthorized Visitors Out

It is critical that unauthorized access to vacant and abandoned buildings be prevented. While there are many ways to secure buildings, the U.S. Fire Administration's (USFA) U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) Board Up Procedures are some of the most effective.

Done correctly and coupled with a surveillance program, buildings secured using this method are very difficult to enter. An added benefit to securely boarding up a structure is that deterioration due to weather exposure is reduced. Buildings that are exposed to weather can become dangerous because structural members intended to support the weight of the building may be weakened. Under fire conditions, they may not support the structure for the length of time they would normally provide, leading to the premature collapse of the building.

How to Effectively Board a Vacant Structure

To effectively board up a vacant building, proper materials must be used. Particle board is ineffective as a security measure because it can easily be pulled apart or broken, especially if it has gotten wet. Panels to cover openings must be substantial and installed so they cannot easily be pried off of the building. Half-inch CDX plywood panels are recommended. Panels that are recessed into a door or window frame are more difficult to pry off.

Additional Resources