We all want to live in a secure home, but when you’re a landlord you’re also responsible for making sure someone else’s home is safe. Not only that, you also need to protect what is, for you, a business asset.
A break-in isn’t just upsetting for your tenants, a burglar could damage your property or steal items belonging to you, particularly in furnished properties, and of course you have a legal duty of care to ensure your tenant’s home is safe and secure. It might be uncomfortable to think about someone breaking into your property, but it happens and ignoring any security concerns won’t help.
There are a number of things you can do to improve security, and they don’t need to cost you lots of money. Detailed security research and analysis by the team at Locksmith Leicester has helped us create this buy to let security guide: –
1. UPGRADE EXTERNAL DOORS
The first thing a burglar will do is check doors and windows for vulnerabilities. To improve the security of your rental property, or properties, the first step is to carry out a security audit of your external doors and check their strength. High-security anti-snap/Ultion locks can significantly improve security. It may even be worth thinking about getting new doors if the existing doors are old UPVC, easy to crowbar variants, or made from softwood.
2. DON’T FORGET INTERNAL DOORS
If you’re rental property is part of, or all of a block of flats, or a house of multiple occupancy, don’t forget internal doors. If someone manages to get into the building through the main door and the internal doors are less secure, it could be relatively straightforward for them to break into the individual flats/rooms. Apply the same level of security to all entrance doors, wherever they are.
3. INSPECT ALL YOUR WINDOWS
Windows can be another simple entry point for a burglar, particularly if they’re not secured properly. Often landlords think about securing doors but forget about windows, which can make them a weak point. Install window locks if you haven’t already, or consider replacing your locks if the keys can’t be found. Don’t forget to make sure your tenants know where the keys to the window locks are, particularly when you have a new tenant.
4. THROW SOME LIGHT ON THE MATTER
If you’re concerned about how secure your property is, a quick way to improve matters is to add some more external lighting. If a property has dark spots around it, it can make it easier for people to creep around and look for somewhere to break in. Outdoor security lights can make a significant difference. Motion sensors save on energy, as does using solar powered lights. A lot of prospective tenants also go and look at an area at night, so it could even make your property more attractive to them!
5. SECURE PATIO AND FRENCH DOORS
Whether you’re renting out a ground floor flat or a house, if they have patio doors this can again be a weak point. If an intruder gets into your garden patio doors and French doors can often be simple to force open. Make sure you check that they are just as secure as other parts of your property. You can either upgrade the locks on your patio doors to stronger ones, or even consider installing special extra security like a Patlock.
6. GO KEYLESS
Installing keyless locks, particularly on main entrance doors is a great idea for landlords. Keyless locks include mechanical keypad locks, as well as smart locks that can be activated by a key fob, a card or even a smartphone. You’ll reduce the risk of tenants losing keys, possibly forcing you to replace the locks, as well as giving you a quick and easy way of ensuring former tenants can no longer access your property – you just change the code!
7. USE PLANTS TO KEEP OUT INTRUDERS
Prickly shrubs and hedges have the dual benefit of keeping intruders away from your property as well as looking attractive. They also improve the privacy of your property, as well as helping reduce noise pollution by dampening the sound from both directions.
8. GET A BURGLAR ALARM
Installing a burglar alarm has a number of benefits. Of course, in the unfortunate event of a burglary they alert people that a break-in is taking place. With a monitored alarm system an alert is sent out either to a control centre, who will contact you, or even to the police. The presence of a visible alarm system can also deter burglars as they are often looking for an easy target. They may even make a property seem more attractive to a prospective tenant.
9. THINK ABOUT CCTV
Security cameras are another device than can help to deter burglars, especially if they are very visible. You’ll want to balance the need for security with respect for your tenants’ privacy, so keep them to the exterior of your property or common areas such as entrance halls. It shouldn’t need to be said, but don’t put them anywhere where a tenant could reasonably expect privacy. It’s also best practice to put up signs to let people know the cameras are present.
10. DON’T IGNORE OUTBUILDINGS
Whether you’ve got a shed or another outbuilding on your property, don’t forget to make sure it’s secure. This is particularly important if you use an outbuilding to store equipment for maintaining communal areas such as gardens. While you are thinking about the outside of your rental property, also take a look at any gates or fences to check that they’re secure too.
11. DON’T LET KEYS LEAVE WHEN YOUR TENANTS LEAVE
When a tenant moves out make sure that you get all sets of keys from them. This will not only give you peace of mind but also will reassure your new tenant. If you’ve got any concerns at all that extra sets of keys could be with an ex-tenant, then play safe and consider changing the locks. Or take our earlier advice and go keyless to save you time, money and hassle next time.
12. TALK TO YOUR TENANTS
Don’t be afraid to talk to your tenants about your expectations regarding security. What keeps your property safe will also keep them safe, so make sure they understand how all the locks work and where the keys for window locks are. In a property with a shared entrance, make sure they understand the importance of not letting just anyone in through the main door and to keep it secured at all times.
13. ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY SPIRIT
When communities work together it helps protect the whole neighbourhood. Find out the details of any local Neighbourhood Watch operating around your rental property and share them with your tenants. You can’t make them get them involved, but you can make it easier for them by sharing information.
14. GET YOUR LOCAL LOCKSMITH ON SPEED DIAL
As a landlord you probably keep the phone number of a local plumber or electrician handy in case of emergencies, but have you ever thought of doing the same with a locksmith? Whether you’re unfortunate enough to suffer a burglary at your property or whether a tenant breaks a key in a lock and can’t get in, an emergency locksmith can be on site quickly to make your property secure or gain entry without damage.
Building a relationship with a locksmith can also help improve your security. They’ll often carry out a free security audit for you and advise you on potential upgrades. So, make sure you put your local locksmith’s number in your phone today.