Renovating a buy-to-let property can be a great way for landlords to increase the rental income on their property, or to turn a profit from a recent property purchase. Updating kitchens and bathrooms or redecorating throughout makes a place much more attractive to prospective tenants. For older, larger properties, renovations may include completely overhauling heating, hot water systems and windows, or converting it to flats to become an HMO (home of multiple occupancy).
A renovation project is also an opportunity to upgrade a property’s security, sometimes something that landlords overlook. How can landlords ensure the safety of their tenants and their property after a renovation project? And what protections are they legally obliged to deliver?
Let’s take a look at the options with research undertaken by the home security experts at Locksmith Nottingham.
1. How the Type of Renovation Project Determines the Kind of Locks You Choose
When renovating any rented accommodation, it’s worth considering the type of property. As a property owner, you could rent out properties such as flats, houses, holiday homes, Airbnb rentals, and HMOs. Because of this, the type of lock that you will need will vary.
Modern flats and homes are most likely to have locks that rely on the use of a cylinder. If you rent a property in a high-risk area or want to offer tenants additional security, you may want to consider anti-snap locks, like those made by Ultion. These cannot be snapped easily by burglars (making forced entry much more difficult).
Holiday homes and Airbnb rentals may benefit from smart or keypad locks. Smart/keypad locks allow you to change access codes easily, preventing people who have already used the property from reentering.
2. Main Access Security and Front Doors
The next step when renovating a property is to consider which type of security lock you will use on your front door. You could use a standard five-lever mortice lock, but you could save money on insurance premiums and improve security by choosing one that conforms to BS3621 standards.
There are even smart lock options here, which may encourage prospective tenants to pay a premium rents.
3. Other Doors and Access
Considerations for HMO properties differ. Not only do you have to provide adequate security for each dwelling, but you must also provide a method for people to gain access to common areas of the building, such as the main door to hallways. Front door access can either by via a standard key operated lock, or a keypad lock where residents have to enter a code. If you rent multiple holiday units that share common areas, you may want to adopt a similar set up.
4. Window Security and Locking Systems
Criminals don’t always enter a property through the front door, the windows can often be a week point. That’s why it’s so important to have great window locks in place, not only to protect your tenants but to prevent costly criminal damage to accommodation.
The best window locks are those that snap shut as soon as you close the windows. These are common on casement windows (that rely on a hinge to open). There are other windows security systems that you might want to consider, including those that prevent windows from being opened wide enough to allow a burglar to get in.
5. Fire Safety Law and Locks in Homes of Multiple Occupancy
The law on HMOs has changed recently, in October 2018, with minimum room sizes introduced for sleeping areas. Parts of the property like kitchens and hallways that are classed as common areas are subject to stringent fire safety regulations, the responsibility for them falls to the landlord. Kitchens and hallways are, therefore, subject to the same fire safety rules that govern shared internal spaces according to The Housing Act, 2004.
Landlords are responsible for ensuring that all escape routes are clearly marked, that there are fireproof doors, fire protection, and warning systems and fire extinguishing facilities, like fire blankets and fire extinguishers, in shared locations. In these situations, landlords will need to provide a method for tenants to gain access to shared areas, that complies with fire safety as well as tenant/property security.
Managing shared area security can be tricky, depending on where the area is and whether it has external access points. You may want to consult with a professional locksmith and fire safety expert as part of any major work to an HMO property.
6. Managing Locks Once Renovations Are Complete and Tenants are in Place
Once renovations are complete and tenants are in place, it’s important to have a plan for managing locks. Ideally, you should have set out in the tenancy agreement the landlord and tenant’s responsibilities regarding locks and your role, especially in shared accommodation.
If you’re renovating a property, it’s well worth considering your security situation, especially when you are thinking about making changes to accommodation with shared areas. Landlords need to make sure that they follow all regulations, while at the same time finding lock and security solutions that meet their tenant’s needs. With the right locks for the job, landlords can boost the security of their accommodation, prevent burglary, improve fire safety and reduce insurance premiums.