October is National Home Security Month.
When the clocks go back on the 27th we can expect the usual spike in burglaries that customarily accompany the darker evenings. This swells the already high number of break-ins and attempted break-ins that occur in the UK – the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says there were 669,000 incidents in 2018.
Although burglars might relish the cloak of darkness, there is never a time to let slip the security of your home. The website Safe Style, for instance, points out that the majority of break-ins occur between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – when many people are out of the house at work.
Furthermore, it doesn’t take any intruder at all long to break in and make off with your valuables. The time taken by most burglars is no more than an average of just 10 minutes.
What you can do
Firstly, take another look at our detailed Guide to Protecting your Property. It is packed with helpful advice for all property owners and landlords in particular. The more secure your let property, the happier your buy to let insurance providers are likely to be – and, conversely, you or your tenants’ failure to take reasonable precautions might be interpreted by your insurer as contributory negligence if you ever need to make a claim.
As part of the annual awareness-raising initiative of National Home Security Month, on the 1st of October, the Residential Landlords Association issued some guidelines with particular interest to landlords in improving the security of their let properties.
Some of that advice might appear only a matter of common sense – but no less worthwhile in reminding your tenants. Remember to lock the front door whenever they go out, for example, since an estimated 5% of all burglaries are committed through an unlocked front door.
In addition to reminders to your tenants, though, there are several straightforward, simple and relatively inexpensive measures you might take to improve the overall level of security:
- ensure all doors – external and internal – are undamaged and fit properly and snugly into their frames;
- upgrade the lock on the front door – with a five-lever mortice lock on external timber doors and a three-point lock on PVC-u doors;
- fit a door chain on all external doors;
- if your let property has a patio door, fit a purpose-made French-window lock;
- don’t leave ladders or other tools outside where a burglar can use them to gain entry to the property but keep them locked securely away;
- a prominently visible burglar system may deter some opportunist thieves but needs to form part of your overall security measures, says Police UK – consider installing spy-holes on doors, a burglar alarm system, and security lighting or motion-detector lights; and
- if you are the landlord of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) consider delegating responsibility to one of your tenants for ensuring that the door that gives common entry to the premises remains locked at all times.
That extra vigilance on the part of you and your tenants may avert the hassle, inconvenience and danger of break-ins this autumn and winter.