Risk Alert: Empty Premises

The closure of our churches, schools, campgrounds and offices has resulted in empty buildings with little to no activity. Since the COVID-19 lockdown laws a number of our vacant sites have already been vandalised and broken into.

To help mitigate potential risks, Adventist-owned sites should continue maintenance programs, cleaning and site inspections and be proactive in reporting loss or damage to RMS.

Our associates at Marsh Australia have advised of several factors those responsible for properties and sites need to consider to protect the asset. Marsh has written a helpful article on their website, but here is a summary of general areas that should not be overlooked:

  1. Sprinkler and fire systems
  2. Property access and security
  3. Maintenance and housekeeping
  4. Contractor communications
  5. Emergency response procedures

You can read the full article here.

Allianz Global have also prepared a fantastic resource and checklist that can be downloaded and printed, or shared with your site’s crisis management team or maintenance team.


For local churches, we know that the above advice may be overwhelming and unachievable, particularly at remote sites. So, as a minimum, RMS advises a simple weekly site visit* by one or two appointed church officials, such as the Pastor, Treasurer and/or Secretary and/or Caretaker. We suggest these officers as they are the ones who usually communicate with RMS should any issues arise.

Each weekly inspection could include checks of the following:

Perimeter gates, windows and doors

  • Walk around the building and check all windows and doors for damage or evidence of being tampered with, ensure that they are secure.

Site securityLights, alarm, CCTV, fire prevention

  • Ensure security motion activated lights are operational.
  • Make sure that your alarm system and CCTV is working and advise your alarm monitoring company that the premises are vacant (if applicable).
  • Check the fire alarm panel is functioning and any faults reported to fire protection service provider.

External Maintenance and Housekeeping

  • Keep the site looking like it is cared for. Do a rubbish and vandalism check (have equipment and PPE ready to use if something needs to be cleaned up).
  • Do a basic tidy of any gardens each month (as the weather gets cooler this may be less frequent), continue any grass cutting contractors that you have in place.
  • Remove any unsecured combustible material from the site.
  • After severe storms check for damage.

Internal Maintenance and Housekeeping

  • Check bathrooms, kitchens and other plumbing for leaks or faults.
  • Check for theft of valuable items, ensure valuables are locked away out of site.
  • Check for ceiling leaks from roof damage – particularly after a storm event and include the cleaning of gutters (appoint a contractor, if possible.) Ensure proper ladder safety.

Why do we suggest weekly inspections?

If something happens at a vacant site it could be months before someone discovers there’s a problem. This delay can result in further damage (eg. if there’s a water leak) or it can hamper the quick reinstatement of property in the event of a covered loss.

Report to RMS

If the weekly inspection reveals that a loss or damage has occurred then it needs to be reported to RMS immediately. Take photographs to support any claim. Remember, we want your ministry to remain intact throughout this period, so reach out to RMS if you have any concerns or questions, we’re ready to help.

* Please follow physical distancing requirements and governing laws for your State or Country.