Keeping your buy to let property secure

If you’re a landlord, you might think you only need to keep your tenants happy with simple fixes around the house... but you could be in for a surprise. Though landlords aren’t obliged to make a renter’s home as safe as Alcatraz, there are some basic legal requirements you have to abide by and some basic upgrades you can make to keep the property and your tenants secure.

My Sweet Landlord

But where does the responsibility lie when it comes to keeping the property safe and insuring it? Though some of this lies squarely with the landlord, there are some things that everyone, renters and landlords alike, can be doing - besides keeping the front door firmly closed - to make sure that the property is safe.

But whose job is whose? Who’s responsible for this and that? Did you know for example, locks are typically the landlord’s responsibility - the Metropolitan Police recommend one with a 5 lever mortice deadlock and a rim latch. Or that neither landlord or tenants have to have contents cover, but each are responsible for their own possessions and can purchase contents insurance to protect them. It’s also up to landlords to fit a carbon monoxide detector in a property with a solid fuel heat source.

For more information, watch our video...

Call on a locksmith

It’s the law for a landlord to provide a secure lock to any external entrance above the legal minimum standard. Wooden front doors should be solid timber, with a five lever mortice deadlock two thirds of the way up. These can be locked on either side and they are easy to install. PVC-u external doors should also come with a three point multi-locking system. There are other ways to make your property safer, like fitting window locks to non-escape windows and installing door chains and a basic burglar alarm. A locksmith can also administer a professional review of your security arrangements. A new type of entry method used by burglars puts uPVC doors with a standard euro cylinder at particular risk. A locksmith would be able to spot any potential vulnerabilities and upgrade your security arrangements accordingly.

secure locks - security tips for landlords

Issue a security pack to tenants

Take your time preparing a security pack for tenants; this could include a set of keys (to doors and windows), and instructions on how to keep everything safe. Be sure to include a list of emergency numbers as well, so that they can get in touch as soon as possible with a plumber, handyman/person or electrician of your choosing if you’re unable to deal with anything that needs urgent fixing or sorting.

Install CCTV

If you feel like you really do need CCTV, security cameras are an excellent way to ensure your space is safe, and for detecting crime. It’s advised to put up signs to warn people they’re being watched, make sure all the data captured by the CCTV is kept safe, and that the recording devices cannot be misused. Legally, you can only film the exterior of your rented property and no communal areas.

cctv - security tips for landlords

Add lights

Put burglars in the spotlight - quite literally. By adding security lights around the property - especially near the doors - it could deter burglars from trying to break in. If you wanted to go one step further, you could fit smart home tech or timer switches inside the property to ensure that your tenants can set the timings on the external lighting even when they’re not home.

Call a gardener

If you have a garden, make sure your tenants keep the bushes and the hedges well maintained by adding a clause into the tenancy agreement requiring them to keep it tidy. You’ve watched the movies, burglars love somewhere to hide before making their move, so don’t give them the chance.

Know the fire hazards

Be firm and state in the tenancy agreement that no candles are allowed in or around the property, and that the property is non-smoking. Candles cause 3%, and smoking materials, lighters and matches cause 6% of domestic fires, so reduce the risk. As a landlord you’re legally required to install working smoke alarms around the property and a carbon monoxide detector in houses with solid fuel sources. You are required to ensure that electrical appliances are kept in a safe condition and you are responsible for carrying out regular basic electricity safety. Faulty electrical appliances are known to cause 12% of house fires. And of course, landlords are responsible for ensuring a gas safety check is carried out every year.

candles fire hazard - landlord security

Install a key safe on the property

For under £100 you can buy a KeySafe, a Masterlock Key Safe or a Smith and Locke electronic key safe. Having your key accessible by a PIN code could prove helpful in an event of an emergency, someone you know and trust can get into the property. Plus, it can also reduce the likelihood of your tenants calling you up in the middle of the night saying they’ve lost their keys, or, even worse, leaving the key under the mat!

Get to know your tenants

You don’t need to be best mates, but it would be good to be on friendly terms with the tenants. The better relationship you have with them, the more likely they are to raise any concerns early on, such as a gas leak, faulty electricals or faulty locks.

Check your cover

Make sure you have landlord’s insurance in place before you rent your property. It could provide landlord specific cover for loss of rent, property owners’ liability, alternative accommodation and landlord home emergency cover. To ensure you have the right cover in place check your landlord insurance policy and be sure to read the small print to see what is covered by your policy. To see if you can save on your landlord insurance, use our landlord comparison service.

Join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme

Did you know that landlords can join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme even if they don’t live in the property? With renters living relatively transient lives, it could be a good way of keeping up-to-date with crimes in the local area, in case of a series of break-ins or other trends in crime occurring locally.

Neighbourhood watch - landlord security tips

A new modern alarm

Keep your property safe and choose a sophisticated alarm system. You can even get one that can send text alerts direct to your mobile phone! Otherwise, an audible intruder alarm system with flashing lights could help - burglars don’t want to be seen or heard; light and noise are their enemies.

Pay attention to your doors

As well as making sure you have the right door and lock, the door should be solid and fit its frame, and if you have glass panels in your doors, you should replace with laminated or tempered glass, to make them safer, stronger and deter burglars.

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