Void properties are a tricky problem to manage for water companies. They pose huge risks of financial penalties, can massively contribute to leakage and can cause your customers to pay more, unfair prices. Because of these reasons, there is a huge incentive for you to get your void properties down. But how is this possible when the numbers reach tens of thousands? Find out more about the best way you can tackle the void property challenge by checking properties at scale, in both an efficient and cost effective way.

Why void properties are a serious problem

Void properties are a huge, well known obstacle that water companies have to manage. With the sheer amount of properties in the UK, both empty and occupied, it’s a difficult task trying to keep records and data on them up to date. 

The effect on your customers

One of the biggest reasons voids are such a huge problem is the impact they can have on your paying customers. The more wrongly unbilled properties, the higher your per capita consumption and the higher the average bills for customers. This means unfair pricing and less happy customers. This is one of the reasons why OFWAT has made reducing voids a top priority, putting financial penalties in place for those that are unable to effectively manage the problem. Additionally, OFWAT also offers financial incentives if you significantly reduce your void properties.

OFWAT’s incentives

OFWAT are also calling for companies to reduce leakage by 15% by 2025. Water wastage is not only expensive – it’s dangerous and harmful to the environment. Unbilled void properties contribute significantly to leakage and offer low hanging fruit to reduce leakage volumes by bringing occupied properties into charge. 

Whether you want to hit targets, secure financial incentives, make customers happy, or all of the above, getting your void properties down is a top priority.

The solution

Whilst water companies have systems in place to find out occupancy status, unmeasured properties need a different approach. Properties without water meters have no usage data for you to go on. Third party sources, like credit reference agencies, are an option but often the data they provide is inconclusive and unhelpful. Therefore, sending someone to check properties in person is needed in most cases. Even better, having someone knock on the door and find out occupier details goes a long way to solving the challenge.

This, however, this is no small task. With 2 million unmeasured void properties in the UK alone, checking them can quickly become time consuming, expensive and will take up a lot of valuable resources.  

How, then, can you check hundreds of thousands of properties in an efficient way?

The benefits of a crowdsourced network

No need for long distance travel

Crowdsourced solutions, like Shepper, can help you avoid the risks associated with more traditional property inspections. Using our network of local agents to check properties means that there’s no need for you to send teams across the country. Our Shepherds are available nationwide and are located within 5 minutes of each asset. We tell them what to check, where and when. Once they’ve captured photos, video and answered the questions, we’ll send the data your way in our digital reports. This includes occupier details if you wish. 

Working with Shepper in place of using your own resources or external contractors removes the need for long distance travel, accommodation and even insurance. Our Shepherds are both local and insured, meaning you’ll make a huge saving.

Prioritise your resources

Moreover, getting great visibility on void properties and identifying occupancy or leaks is often a very simple task. The checks require the individual completing the inspection to answer a few questions and provide photos or video. This means that hiring an expert to complete in-person property checks is usually unnecessary and a waste of valuable resources. Instead, the task could be easily completed by non-experts, provided they are trained and briefed. Our Shepherds do just that. We don’t require that they have high cost skills, but we train them and support them through checks. This adds to the cost saving for you, while providing meaningful work to local people. As an added benefit, using the Shepper network increases community engagement scores for water companies that adopt this innovative approach.

Why now is the perfect time to check void properties

Covid-19 and this new lockdown has created a very unique circumstance in which everyone is now at home. The signs that a property is occupied will now be much clearer, meaning that our data will be more accurate than at any other time.

Get in touch with us to find out how you can work with Shepper to check thousands of properties across the country.