Risks of Having a Vacant Vacation Rental Property

In your career as a landlord, one thing is assured, you’ll experience a vacancy at some point. This is especially true when it comes to vacation rentals. Every time your vacation rental is vacant you’ll have to go through the process of finding new renters.

This means doing everything from advertising the rental to vetting renters and preparing the property for new people. This can be expensive and a time sink, not to mention not having a rental income to offset the costs associated with finding new renters.

With that in mind, you must fill a vacant vacation unit as quickly as possible. This post will look at 5 possible risks of having a vacant vacation rental property.

1. Water Damage & Mold

Generally, water damage usually results from broken pipes and leaks and as a landlord, this can be one of the most expensive repairs you may have to confront. The problem here is that leaks can be hard to detect in a vacant unit. So, you may only come to realize you have water damage when someone new moves in.

What’s more, high moisture content resulting from heavy rainfall or plumbing leaks can lead to mold. Mold is a health and safety hazard, and this will make your rental property uninhabitable.

water damage in vacation rental property

To prevent water damage and mold in your home, here are a couple of things you might want to do:

  • Make sure your plumbing is running and draining properly. Ensure that there are no cracks
  • Check the roof, ceilings, and windows to ensure that no water is coming in.
  • Inspect the property regularly, even if it’s vacant to ensure that any potential issues are caught early on before they become too costly.

2. Fires

Another risk of having a vacant vacation rental are fires. It’s important to implement preventative measures to protect against fires.

When a unit is vacant, it becomes susceptible to fires given that no one is using the home’s systems. Improperly maintained heating systems can accumulate dirt and that can lead to an overheated motor system. There may be a risk of fire due to combustible materials being near the heater.

You also can’t rule out the risk of arson. Some people can inadvertently start a fire while smoking near the home, while others may start a fire on purpose. Intruders may also forget to put out any candles they brought with them.

Luckily for you, there are a couple of things you can do to protect your property from any of these fire hazards. You should:

  • Regularly inspect the unit to check for damages and potential hazards
  • Collect junk mail regularly to show that someone is caring for the property
  • Ensure your landscaping is well taken care of so that your property doesn’t look abandoned
  • Keep an eye on intruders by checking your security systems

fire safety in your vacation rental units

3. Squatters

Squatters often inhabit homes that are unoccupied or foreclosed upon. A vacation home is particularly attractive to squatters because it is furnished.

Now, squatters do have certain rights. After living there for some time, they may be able to acquire adverse possession rights. And at that point, removing them can be incredibly difficult and costly.

To avoid this issue, there are several things you can do. You may want to:

  • Install an alarm system on your property
  • Inspect the unit every once in a while
  • Install smart locks

4. Theft & Vandalism

When a vacation rental is vacant, there is also a risk of having items stolen or vandalized. A thief can sneak out things like furnishing, air conditioning units, and appliances. Other items that are prone to theft include antique pieces, aluminum pipes, and copper wires.

Besides the risk of theft, vacant units are also subject to vandalism. Vandalism can occur in many different ways, including having your property’s windows broken and your property spray painted. To keep vandals and thieves away from your home, here are a couple of things you can do:

  • Install timed lighting or motion sensors. This will make it seem like the property is being used to anyone who passes by.
  • Have a working alarm or security camera
  • Ensure you have a programmable security system

vandalism of your rentals

5. High Insurance & Lost Income

The longer your vacation rental home is unoccupied, the more income you’ll lose. In addition, insurance companies understand the risks that come with a vacant home. As such, some may not be willing to provide any coverage. And for those that will, the prices will be sky-high.

Besides the potentially expensive insurance coverage, having a vacant unit also means zero income for you. Keep in mind that your vacation rentals will still general expenses even when vacant. So, it’s in your best interest to ensure your home is occupied as soon as possible to prevent further losses.

Luckily for you, as a landlord, you may be able to avoid vacancies or at least reduce downtime between renters by hiring a knowledgeable property management company. A good property manager can help you keep occupancy rates high with effective marketing and proper maintenance.


While there are many risks associated with vacant vacation rentals, there are also plenty of solutions at your disposal. If you know what to look out for, you’ll be able to better protect your property.

If you have any questions about your rentals, Suncastle Property Management is a professional property management company servicing Florida’s First Coast and the surrounding areas. We can help sort out your needs in regards to your vacation rental. Get in touch with us to learn more!

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