Is your home secure?
No matter how happy your tenants are with their home, you could be putting them in real danger, and your reputation could be jeopardised, if it isn’t secure. According to the latest statistics,there were 171,527 recorded incidents of domestic burglary in the UK between April 2016 and March 2017 – a 2 per cent rise on the previous year. Many of these properties were undoubtedly targeted by criminals because of their lax security, which makes certain homes natural targets and significantly easier to break into.
Considering that the safety and wellbeing of others is in your hands as a landlord, it is imperative that you do everything possible to ensure that your tenants are safe and that they don’t become a future burglary statistic. Read on to find out what you can do to make your buy-to-let property secure.
Invest in secure door locks
A home’s front door is its first line of defence against criminals, meaning a secure door lock is absolutely pivotal for keeping burglars out of a property. The need for a high quality door lock is even more pressing following the recent spate of lock snapping cases across the UK, where certain types of locks are forcibly snapped in two, enabling burglars to easily break into properties.
Finding out what door lock is best for your property is less daunting than you might expect. In their guide to the different types of door locks, Banham note the importance of checking a lock’s grade to gauge its quality of security. All locks are rated between grades 1 to 3, based on industry standards, so buying a grade 1 door lock is a surefire way of helping to ensure your rental property is secure. Another way you can determine a lock’s quality is by making sure it has been stamped with the British Standards Institution (BSI) Kitemark. Shaped like a heart, this small logo shows buyers and insurers that a door lock meets the BSI’s high and exacting standards.
As well as investing in secure door locks, it is also highly recommended that you change the locks whenever somebody moves out. 71% of letting agencies surveyed by Direct Line stated that 9 out of 10 landlords they worked with did not change the locks between tenancies. With former tenants potentially cutting multiple sets of keys to give to partners or family, your new tenants’ safety could be at serious risk if the lock is not changed. Whilst there is no obligation to do so, and you may be reluctant to keep changing the locks because of the costs, it can really help to protect your property and tenants in the long run.
Splash out on security systems
As well as robust door locks, consider investing in other security measures that can help keep your tenants safe, such as CCTV cameras. According to a panel of former burglars, security cameras were the most likely measure to deter them from breaking into a property. Furthermore, CCTV cameras will also give your tenants greater peace of mind, and can provide crucial evidence in the case of a break-in attempt.
Another recommended security system is a burglar alarm. As well as deterring potential intruders, an alarm will keep the property safe by alerting your tenants, neighbours and passers-by if anybody does try and break into the house, enabling them to call the authorities for help. Some burglar alarms offer even more stringent protection, such as those that are connected to trained security controllers. With these type of alarm systems, controllers will be alerted when an alarm is activated, enabling them to directly contact the police if they are certain it has not been triggered by mistake. This is especially practical if your property is left vacant in between tenancies.
As well as keeping your tenants safer, investing in rental property security can also provide you with huge insurance benefits. Insurance-approved security measures like alarms can significantly reduce the home insurance premium you have to pay in the first place, which is especially useful in light of rising home insurance costs. Additionally, any home insurance claims may be completely invalidated from the beginning if you do not have sufficient security measures; The Guardian reported in 2016 that a couple making a £6,000 burglary insurance claim were turned down for not having burglar alarm. Don’t make this kind of mistake yourself; make sure your house has sufficient security measures.
Make sure you have landlord’s insurance
Finally, as well as home insurance, you should ensure that you have landlords’insurance to protect you in the unfortunate case of a break-in. There are a number of different types of landlords’ insurance you can get; for example, contents insurance will protect any items you own in the property–such as beds, carpets and furnishings–in case of theft, as well as in the event of damage. You might also want to look at landlords’ home emergency insurance to ensure that a fully-qualified tradesman will be on hand to help with any household emergencies all year round. This will cover all types of emergency at the property, including break-ins, as well as incidents like burst pipes and pest infestations.
Investing in robust security measures is extremely important when it comes to protecting the welfare of your tenants. Failure to do so will increase the risk of your property being targeted by criminals, which is not only bad in itself, but may even result in your tenants ending their stay prematurely, losing you money. Following the advice above will also save you money in other ways, from insurance covering for any loss caused by criminals to reducing the cost of your premium in the first place.