It's the start of the UK holiday season, with millions of us going away for a week or two and leaving our rental properties empty. And there is nothing that an opportunist burglar likes more than a property where he knows he won't be disturbed.
The latest UK crime figures* show that in the year to September 2014, there were 789,000 reported burglaries - equivalent to 33 in every 1000 of us being a victim. Following are some precautionary steps for both tenants and landlords, to ensure security is of the highest level during the summer months, when burglars are at their busiest!
- If you are a tenant, you may wish to let your landlord or letting agent know that you will be away, and provide them with an emergency contact number
- Set up table lamps and radios on timers throughout the property to give the impression that someone is at home during the day and in the evening
- If you have a burglar alarm, make sure it is set correctly
- Make sure you cancel milk, newspaper and other regular deliveries
- If your driveway will be empty, invite a good neighbour or friend to use it while you are away. This will give the impression that someone is at home
- Get the same designated person to check the outside of the property, pushing any post or newspapers / junk mail through the letterbox and removing any packages that may have been delivered
- Don't publicise your absence on social media (such as Facebook)
- Remove any keys from windows and door locks - you may be surprised at how easy it is to break a window pane and unlock a window, or hook a visible set of keys to open a door
- Hide away any valuables and use a security pen to mark them for extra peace of mind
- If you have hedges or large shrubs outside the front of your house that obscure a clear line of view to the front door or front windows, then cut them back
- In the back garden, remove or store away (under lock and key) ladders, garden tools, bicycles etc. that could be attractive to a burglar (in terms of helping them break in or stealing it)
- For the same reason, lock any sheds and garages. Most thieves don't carry a toolbox of tricks around with them and will see what they can find in your garden or shed to make their job easier.
Going on an extended holiday?Don't forget, if you are going on an extended trip - typically longer than 30-45 consecutive days - check with your current insurance provider as to whether you need to make additional insurance arrangements. (Tenants should also advise their landlord).
Most home buildings and landlord insurance policies, as well as tenants contents cover, will have limitations to the number of consecutive days a property can be empty until the current cover is restricted or even becomes void.
Take security seriouslyFinally, with rental properties, there is often some confusion as to who is responsible for security. We always advise a common sense approach to security and we take the safety of our tenants and the secure maintenance of landlords properties very seriously.
We can offer advice on most insurance and maintenance issues to help protect you, contact your local Parkers branch for more information.
*Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics Sept 2014