Making your buy to let property secure
Your rental property, like all investments, needs protecting. Check out this helpful downloadable guide to help you secure and protect your property.
Making security a priority will give you and your tenants peace of mind and should save you money in the longer term.
Below are some considerations and checklists of things you and your tenants can do to reduce the likelihood of your property being damaged or burgled.
Before you make any security improvements, make a security inventory. As you walk around the interior and exterior of your property, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do any areas look susceptible to vandalism, forced entry and other criminal activity?
- Does my property look well-maintained and cared for?
- Are there any climbing or hiding places?
- If I'd forgotten my keys, how long would it take me to get into the property?
Inspect the property quarterly, checking the security inventory, and carry out all repairs and replacements as soon as they're required.
Securing the property
There are lots of security measures you can put in place - inside and out - to deter potential intruders:
- Fit and ask your tenants to use a security alarm
- Consider additional security on the ground floor such as window locks
- Hang curtains and fit blinds. Ask your tenants to open and close them regularly
- Provide and ask your tenants to use timer lights
- Install a key box. Ask your tenants to lock it and request that keys are not left near exterior doors
- Install a safe for your tenants' use
- Ask tenants not to keep valuable items on display
- Take photographs of your contents
Doors and windows
- Fit doubled-glazed windows and doors with locks. Use laminated glass
- Opt for solid exterior doors, rather than glazed
- Ensure exterior doors and frames are sound and suitable for external use
- Install door locks on the front door - preferably a five lever mortice deadlock. Alternatively, a rim automatic deadlock
- Fit metal door strips or metal reinforcement on the front door
- Fit a chain or door limiter to the front door
- Install a spy hole in the front door
- Fit a letter plate and a basket with the bottom removed
- Encourage your tenants to make sure that items cannot be reached via the letterbox
- Install a mortice sash lock and rack bolts on the back door and, if glazed, fit laminated glass from the inside
- Install mortice rack bolts and hinge bolts on French doors and use laminated glass
- Use locks and locking bolts on patio doors
- Ask tenants not to leave items within reach of cat flaps and dog flaps
- Ensure cat flaps and dog flaps are locked if there are no cats or dogs living in the house
- Ask tenants not to leave spare keys hidden outside
- Install motion sensor lights at the front and back of the property
- Ensure gates and fences are secure and there are no gaps in the boundary
- Keep shrubbery and trees well-pruned
- Remove all tools and equipment from the garden
- Remove any items from the garden that could help a burglar gain entry or cause damage, e.g. tables, chairs, decorating implements, pieces of wood, etc.
- Ensure outbuildings are locked and secure. If they provide a means for burglars to get to higher ground, are there any deterrent measures you can take?
- Plant prickly plants and shrubs at the boundaries
- Install security bars and grilles on doors and windows
- Ensure the front door is visible and that there is nothing to hide an intruder
- Make sure that outsiders can't see into the hall from the front door
- Padlock ladders if they have to be stored outside and keep them out of sight
- Use anti-climb paint on drainpipes
- Put shingle on the driveway and paths that approach the property
Neighbourhood and neighbours
Maintaining good relations with your neighbours and being aware of what's going on in your neighbourhood is an excellent way of keeping your property secure.
- Join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme
- Give your contact details to neighbours
- Communicate regularly with the neighbours
- Ensure street lighting is working
- Ask your neighbours to maintain their boundary fences
Other security measures
- Have a security budget
- Make sure previous tenants or agents no longer have keys to the property
- Use property marking on your contents
- Ask tenants to be vigilant when visitors are around
- Advise tenants to be security-conscious if leaving property (such as bikes) in communal areas
If your property is vacant or the tenants are away, you help keep the property secure by making it appear as though someone is still living there:
- Collect post regularly
- Open and close curtains and blinds on a regular basis
- Disconnect the answerphone
- Park a car in the driveway
- Maintain the gardens
Make sure that you and your tenants take out adequate insurance (such as buildings and contents) and check that your landlord insurance policy meets your needs.
- Are you covered for vacant periods?
- What are the minimum security requirements?
- Are outbuildings and contents included?
What to do in the event of a burglary
If the worst happens and your property is burgled, you and your tenants should take the following steps to assist in the investigation of the crime, minimise the impact it has on you and to try and prevent it from happening again:
- If you or your tenants arrive at the property and think a burglary is underway, do not enter the house. Call 999 and then go to a different property
- Contact your letting agent
- If the property has been burgled, contact the local police
- Get a crime reference number from the police
- Don't touch or move anything until the crime has been investigated
- Inform your landlord insurance company
- Repair damage caused by forced entry
- Notify relevant institutions of any thefts, e.g. banks, credit card companies, passport agency, DVLA
- Contact Victim Support on 0808 1689 111 if you or your tenant feel help/further advice is needed
- Perform a security inventory and take steps to improve the security of your property
Your property is only as safe as you and your tenants make it. Take the time to check for security weaknesses and spend money on making your investment more secure. Tenants that feel safe tend to be happier tenants, stay in the property longer and treat it better. And by making sure the property looks lived in, well-maintained and hard to get into, it will be far less likely to be targeted by burglars and vandals.