Posted by: Nick Fundytus

Question of the week:

How do homeowners typically manage risks associated with vacant properties? 

Do they hire someone to conduct property checks? Many insurance policies require property checks to be conducted each week (when the property is vacant).

Nick Answers Reddit

Every week, Nick answers a Redditor’s question about buying, selling, renting, investing or living in Ottawa. This week’s question is about how to manage vacant properties  as a property owner.

Nick's Response

Hi u/Strange-Tangelo8405, and thanks for the question.


The route you go may depend upon: – Whether this is a property that you’re selling that happens to be vacant, or it’s a property that you’re keeping (either to rent, renovate or simply hold) that happens to be vacant for the moment. – How close you live to the property and how much time you have. – How you want to handle liability.


If you’re listing the property and have already moved, for example, your Realtor might do property checks for you, either included in the listing or for an hourly or per-visit rate. My team and I have done this from time to time, most recently for a Buyer from Toronto who had bought here in Ottawa but wouldn’t be moving up for two months.


For a rental, if you’re not self-managing or if you don’t live in town, hire a property manager to do this. Here in Ottawa the going rate seems to be 5-6% of rent to manage a tenanted listing, and a flat fee per month for a vacant listing that includes weekly visits. The nice thing about a property manager is that there is a paper trail (they typically have a sign-in sheet for their visits) so that if there is an incident there’s documentation to show your insurer.


If you decide to do your own visits, create a checklist of what you check at each site visit and create your own sign-in sheet to initial each time you stop at the property.


If you happen to be in the capital region, Praetorian and Sleepwell are both good property managers that my clients have had good experiences with.

3 Bonus Tips for Managing a Vacant Property


Know exactly where your water, power and gas shut-offs are located, and have the locations of these clearly marked for anyone who needs to access the property. 


Keep up to date on maintenance and repairs. These go a long way to avoiding a property issue like a leak or burst pipe in the first place.


Read your insurance and property management contracts thoroughly. This will give you an idea of what’s covered and what your responsibilities are.

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