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Security & Locks - Buy to Let Renovation & HMO Projects


Renovating a buy-to-letproperty can be a great way for landlords to increase the rental income ontheir property, or to turn a profit from a recent property purchase. Updatingkitchens and bathrooms or redecorating throughout makes a place much more attractiveto prospective tenants. For older, larger properties, renovations may includecompletely overhauling heating, hot water systems and windows, or converting itto flats to become an HMO (home of multiple occupancy).

A renovation project isalso an opportunity to upgrade a property’s security, sometimes something thatlandlords overlook. How can landlords ensure the safety of their tenants andtheir property after a renovation project? And what protections are theylegally obliged to deliver?

Let’s take a look at theoptions with research undertaken by the home security experts at Locksmith Nottingham.

1. How the Type of Renovation Project Determines the Kindof Locks You Choose

When renovating anyrented accommodation, it’s worth considering the type of property. As aproperty owner, you could rent out properties such as flats, houses, holidayhomes, Airbnb rentals, and HMOs. Because of this, the type of lock that youwill need will vary.

Modern flats and homesare most likely to have locks that rely on the use of a cylinder. If you rent aproperty in a high-risk area or want to offer tenants additional security, youmay want to consider anti-snap locks, like those made by Ultion. These cannot besnapped easily by burglars (making forced entry much more difficult).

Holiday homes and Airbnbrentals may benefit from smart or keypad locks. Smart/keypad locks allow you tochange access codes easily, preventing people who have already used the propertyfrom reentering.

2. Main Access Security and Front Doors

The next step whenrenovating a property is to consider which type of security lock you will useon your front door. You could use a standard five-lever mortice lock, but youcould save money on insurance premiums and improve security by choosing onethat conforms to BS3621 standards.

There are even smartlock options here, which may encourage prospective tenants to pay a premiumrents.

3. Other Doors and Access

Considerations for HMOproperties differ. Not only do you have to provide adequate security for eachdwelling, but you must also provide a method for people to gain access tocommon areas of the building, such as the main door to hallways. Front dooraccess can either by via a standard key operated lock, or a keypad lock whereresidents have to enter a code. If you rent multiple holiday units that sharecommon areas, you may want to adopt a similar set up.

4. Window Security and Locking Systems

Criminals don’t alwaysenter 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 toprotect your tenants but to prevent costly criminal damage to accommodation.

The best window locksare those that snap shut as soon as you close the windows. These are common oncasement windows (that rely on a hinge to open). There are other windowssecurity systems that you might want to consider, including those that preventwindows from being opened wide enough to allow a burglar to get in.

5. Fire Safety Law and Locks in Homes of MultipleOccupancy

The law on HMOs haschanged recently, in October 2018, with minimum room sizes introduced forsleeping areas. Parts of the property like kitchens and hallways that areclassed as common areas are subject to stringent fire safety regulations, theresponsibility for them falls to the landlord. Kitchens and hallways are,therefore, subject to the same fire safety rules that govern shared internalspaces according to The Housing Act, 2004.

Landlords areresponsible for ensuring that all escape routes are clearly marked, that thereare fireproof doors, fire protection, and warning systems and fireextinguishing facilities, like fire blankets and fire extinguishers, in sharedlocations. In these situations, landlords will need to provide a method fortenants to gain access to shared areas, that complies with fire safety as wellas tenant/property security.

Managing shared areasecurity can be tricky, depending on where the area is and whether it hasexternal access points. You may want to consult with a professional locksmithand fire safety expert as part of any major work to an HMO property.

6. Managing Locks Once Renovations Are Complete andTenants are in Place

Once renovations arecomplete and tenants are in place, it’s important to have a plan for managinglocks. Ideally, you should have set out in the tenancy agreement the landlordand tenant’s responsibilities regarding locks and your role, especially inshared accommodation.

7. Conclusion

If you’re renovating aproperty, it’s well worth considering your security situation, especially whenyou are thinking about making changes to accommodation with shared areas.Landlords need to make sure that they follow all regulations, while at the sametime finding lock and security solutions that meet their tenant’s needs. Withthe right locks for the job, landlords can boost the security of theiraccommodation, prevent burglary, improve fire safety and reduce insurancepremiums.