As a landlord or letting agent, there are certain times of year when you experience a rush in new tenants arriving or old tenants leaving your residential property. September is one of those periods when many students, workers and families are on the move. Here we offer some tips on keeping your property secure, both for your own peace of mind and your tenants’ well-being.
It is a landlord’s legal responsibility to make sure security in a residential letting is fit for purpose. By following all health and safety regulations advice and tips like these you are likely to keep your tenants longer and avoid costly, unexpected repairs.
Property Security Tips for Busy Landlords
Before a new tenant takes over a property, ensure you have:
- Reviewed the security of the flat or house where they will live and taken appropriate measures to rectify any faults
- Collected the previous tenant’s keys and if not all are found, change the locks and keys for the new tenant
- Carried out any repairs to doors, windows, side gates and driveway gates and perimeter fences. Making the house look well cared for will deter intruders and encourage your tenant to look after it too. They will stay longer if they feel safe and happy in their rented property.
- Cut back vegetation at the front of the house or flats so that people can see it from the road. This will deter intruders from using the vegetation as cover from which to carry a crime.
- Check that all doors and windows are in a good state of repair and have secure locks. Where possible, fit extra locks and, if necessary fit new solid wooden doors.
- Review any security systems currently in place. Fire alarms, exterior and internal warning lights, intruder alarms and CCTV systems must all be in good working order. This is a good time to get any annual security system maintenance done on the property, before the tenant moves in and you have to ask permission from them to gain entrance.
- When the tenant arrives, make sure they understand how any security systems work, both ones they operate themselves, like a burglar alarm and ones that operate in any communal areas, such as shared entrance lobbies (CCTV for example)
When a tenant leaves a property
- Ask them to return all the keys and if you have a door access control system, remove individual permissions by changing cards, codes, fobs etc.
- Consider getting specialist keys made that cannot be copied by the next tenant or install a door access system so that you don’t have to change locks every time there is a change of tenant
- Carry out regular checks of the property when empty to ensure that it is not targeted by vandals, burglars or squatters.
- If your property is inside a block of flats and you don’t control the shared entry corridor, make sure the door and lock on your flat is as strong and secure as possible – solid wood doors, 5 lever locks etc.
- If you have control over communal entrances, make sure that access via the communal entrance is as secure as possible. Timers can be fitted to increase security. Also consider fitting external lighting above a communal entrance, at least 5 metres above the ground to keep the lights out of reach and provide good light in front of what could be a vulnerable area.
- If possible, fit CCTV systems to a communal area – shared entrance halls, corridors etc. (There are regulations governing this, so check them out first). This should make tenants feel more secure and can provide landlords with a record of people entering or leaving the premises, including criminals.
- Fitting burglar alarms will increase your property’s security. They act as a deterrent to burglars. Make sure it is set properly when a tenant leaves for the last time.
- Secure the perimeter of your property. Add locks to gates, add CCTV equipment to cover the front of the house or driveway, cut back vegetation to improve visibility, secure side access routes to prevent intruders accessing the property from the back door or patio doors.
- Make sure all the doors and windows are shut and locked. It sounds silly, but most burglaries take place through open doors and windows! Tenants can be careless, it is best to see them leave the property yourself and then lock up afterwards.
If your property is empty, it is also at its most vulnerable
- Regularly check your property when it is empty – weekly checks are sensible
- Inform police and fire departments and make sure they know who they key holders are when your property is empty
- Inform neighbours and let them know who to contact and how if they are concerned about possible intruders, vandals, squatters etc.
- Remove any items likely to attract the attention of burglars
- Set lights to come on at certain times of day or night to make your property look lived in
- Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies to prevent accidental damage
- Remove any flammable fuels such as coal, timber, oil and gas cylinders
- Stop postal deliveries and secure any letter boxes.
- Make the property look cared for and lived in.
- Set alarm, door access and CCTV systems to new settings now that there is no-one living in the house or flat.
When to use your checklist
September is often busy as students arrive to start the academic year in cities across the UK and many adults will be starting new jobs in a new town and will be looking for accommodation – either temporary or permanent. Christmas, Easter and summer holiday months see a flurry of activity as holiday lettings take off. The period immediately after these months sees tenants leave again. Businesses where staff need corporate lets have times of year when more of them move to new areas. You as a landlord are expected to make their move into a new home as smooth as possible. We hope this checklist helps you navigate the various security issues you face at your busy times.