Although a building may be empty with no assets of real worth inside, security should still be every landlord’s primary concern.
Whether the property you own is for domestic or commercial purposes, keeping it secure is a top priority. Neglecting to put the right security measures in place could cause a number of issues, forcing you to take the property off the market until your problems are resolved, severely devaluing your investment in some cases.
As the owner of any property that’s currently vacant, you should always be asking yourself if you’re doing enough to maintain its safety. Here are a few ways to improve your current security.
Neighbours are Great Lookouts
If you own property in a residential area, it’s a smart move to introduce yourself to people who live nearby. You don’t have to become best friends, but making yourself known and providing contact details is an ideal way of knowing straight away if any problems need your attention.
The same can be said for commercial property that has nearby businesses. The last thing other business owners want is for damage or break-ins to happen in the vicinity of their building. They’re in the same boat as you, so use this to your advantage and gain yourself an extra pair of eyes.
Everything Needs to be Clearly Locked
Lock. Your. Doors. It’s a no-brainer, but have you made sure everything is locked? Whether it’s a door, window, skylight or even a cat flap, if you want your property to be safe, you need to lock up effectively. Most people will concentrate on the most obvious ways in (front door, back door, fire exits), but covering all bases protects your property from all angles — or in this case, all entrances.
Your property is now the Fort Knox of vacant properties, but is it clearly locked? A door that’s secured with a big, noticeable lock will not only perform its duties to keep intruders out, but will act as a deterrent, because anyone trying to gain entry now knows they first have to deal with the lock.
Vacant, Not Derelict
A long-time vacant property that shows signs of neglect will be more noticeable and, therefore, more vulnerable. While the building may not be in use, it doesn’t mean you should put it on the backburner in regards to security and upkeep.
Overgrown bushes, a build-up of waste or any noticeable damage are all advertisements to burglars, vandals or squatters. Property maintenance should already be on your current agenda. If it’s not, you need to consider the effect it could have on your finances through repairs or decrease in market value.
Piles of rubbish or damage to your property can also become a hazard if they’re not taken care of. Whether it’s a potential tenant viewing the property, someone working on the site such as security or construction, or even an intruder, if they hurt themselves on your premises because of dangerous conditions, it becomes your problem — and possibly a costly problem at that.
Depending on the size of the property or if it’s a particularly isolated location, it may be worth looking into residential security. Although some may see this as just another expense to add to the list, when compared to what you’ll end up paying for repairs from break-ins and vandalism, it becomes less of an expense and more of a necessity.
You then have to consider how effective residential security is as a deterrent. Any intruder looking to gain access to your property will quickly have a change of heart once they notice you have security patrolling the area.
Noticeable Warning Signs
If you saw a “beware of the dog” sign on a gate or fence as a child, there’s no way you’d risk it and trespass — and this same logic can be applied to securing your property. You could use a sign for any number of reasons, such as security on the premises, CCTV in operation, or alarm systems. It doesn’t matter whether they’re truthful or a fallacy, because the only person who knows for sure is you.
Some commercial properties, like a construction site, require the appropriate signage by law to show that you’ve taken the necessary steps to prevent unwarranted access.
Install High-Quality Alarms and CCTV Cameras
It’s natural to try and save some money wherever possible, but when it comes to security, you get what you pay for. If you’re planning to install an alarm system, CCTV cameras or ideally both, they need to be high-quality.
Modern tech has revolutionised every industry, with security being one area that’s benefitted greatly from these advances. The use of mobile alarm systems and motion detectors will alert you or the police to any break-ins on your property, meaning that the situation can be taken care of right away.
The addition of CCTV cameras is perfect if you have a more urgent need to keep an eye on your property, such as if there have been recent burglaries in the area or you have equipment on-site. These days, there’s an app for everything, and CCTV cameras are no different, meaning you can keep an eye on your property at any time of day via your mobile.
As well as providing a watchful eye over your property, CCTV cameras also provide a strong deterrent to anyone planning to break in or cause damage. This, along with a sign to highlight the fact that you have cameras, will be more than enough to keep anyone off your property.
Being the landlord of any property will raise issues from time to time, whether it’s to do with tenants or problems with the building itself. You’d think that by taking the residents out of the equation, a vacant property would give you less to think about. In reality, though it provides a whole new category of tasks — and security is in the running for first place when it comes to your priorities.
Ankush Gupta is the managing director of Close Circuit, which provides London with a range of security services. The company’s core management has over fifty years of experience in the security and hospitality industries.