Is your tenant jetting off on an extended summer break this year? The experts at Belvoir reveal their ten-step plan to help protect your property while it’s vacant and vulnerable
Lock up lowdown
Ensure your tenants lock up before they leave…
“It may sound obvious but make sure all door and window locks are adequate and fully functioning,” says co-owner of Belvoir Basingstoke Mike Jones.
“At Belvoir Basingstoke we check these at inventory stage when a tenancy begins, making sure there are a sufficient supply of window locks and that they are all working.
“A tenant should have copies of all necessary keys and should be made aware that they are expected to use them.”
Don’t leave it on display… put it away!
“Ensure the tenant knows not to leave valuables on display by doors or windows,” says co-owner of Belvoir Bedford Zoe Bywater. “Small items, which are clearly visible and can be removed easily, may prove tempting to opportunistic thieves.
“It’s advisable that all valuable items should be put away securely where they are hidden from view.”
Keep it light and bright… dark corners and shadowy spots are welcomed by would-be intruders.
“A number of the rental properties we deal with have external security lights with motion sensors,” says Mike. “Not only are these a great deterrent for potential burglars, but they are also beneficial for your tenant’s personal security, especially if the property has a dark porch or is situated in an unlit alley.”
Get a little neighbourly help…
“If you have a good relationship with the neighbours then they can be extremely helpful in creating the illusion that the property is occupied,” says Zoe.
“From opening and closing the curtains and switching lights on and off again, to moving post gathering behind the front door and bringing in the bins, a good neighbour’s help can be invaluable.
“Additionally, if there’s a local Neighbourhood Watch scheme you may wish to register, plus you may want to give the neighbours your contact details and ask them to get in touch if they notice any problems.”
The great outdoors
It’s not just what’s on the inside that counts…
“During an extended empty period for your property it’s also important to protect garages, sheds and outbuildings,” says Mike. “These can house expensive items, such as lawnmowers and other garden equipment, and are often seen as an easier target than the main property itself.
“Make sure a good quality lock is provided for any outbuildings, plus perhaps supply a lock for back gates in order to make entry to the garden more difficult.
“Talk to your tenant about what’s being left on display too and consider covering the windows, perhaps with some hardboard, to reduce visibility… and temptation.”
And, don’t give would-be thieves a helping hand. “Never leave outside bins under a window or next to a garage,” advises Zoe. “Doing so can give a potential burglar easy access to the property.”
Has your insurance policy got it covered?
“Having adequate landlord insurance is essential at all times of the year but it becomes particularly pertinent when a property is empty and at its most vulnerable,” says Zoe.
“An insurance policy can help protect your pocket if something, such as a leak, happened which could cause considerable damage if left unnoticed in an empty property.
“Likewise, an insurance policy will be beneficial if a burglary was to occur. Burglaries can be commonplace in the summer months when occupants are most likely to be away.
“Always check your policy documents and read the small print. Some policies may require notification if a property is going to be empty for an extended period of time.”
Read all about it!
Shhh! Don’t advertise that there’s no one home…
“More and more of us our sharing our thoughts, feelings and whereabouts on social media,” says Mike. “However, this is unadvisable when on holiday or during an extended break. Uploading photos of landscapes and landmarks while you’re away is advertising that no one is at home, potentially providing an easy invitation for break ins.
“If your tenant is active on social media, perhaps chat to them about this and ask them to wait until they return before uploading their holiday memories.”
Zoe agrees and adds, “It’s important to be cautious about what is revealed on social media. Posting photographs of expensive equipment and valuable items that are kept at the property, for example, is not advisable.”
Time it right with useful light timers…
“Providing light timers for the property can also be helpful in the fight against holiday crime,” continues Zoe. “These are small gadgets that are fitted to plug sockets and can be set to switch lights on and off while the property is unoccupied.
“However, be aware that if your timer is coming on and going off again at the same time each day this could signal that no-one’s home to a potential burglar who may have been watching the property for a few days.”
Are your fitted security features fully functional?
“If the property has a burglar alarm make sure this is working correctly and that your tenant knows how to use it and has a copy of the manual,” says Zoe.
“The code should be a sequence that isn’t easy to guess, plus it’s also important to ensure that the code is changed regularly, particularly between outgoing and incoming tenants.
“Check your insurance policy carefully too. This may state that if there is an alarm at the property then this will need to be set when the property is empty as part of the policy agreement.”
Proactive visits to the property while it is empty can help prevent problems before they progress.
“Before your tenant leaves for their break it can be useful to arrange for permission to enter the property during their absence,” says Mike.
“Regular visits to the property will allow you to check that all is well, plus enable you to troubleshoot in emergencies.”
“During your visit it’s advisable to check that cookers and taps have been switched off correctly, plus look out for signs of leaks, disturbance or theft.”
Article courtesy of Belvoir