Being a landlord in a city as big as London has its own set of challenges. Securing a property is a major priority, but when surrounded by so many threats and high crime rates, it may feel like treading water in the sea. Fortunately, there are some universal property security tips for landlords in London that enable a better peace of mind and a safer building for tenants and other reasons. The advice below is about how to make a property safer and ways to manage security to combat the worst from happening.
Choose Your Property Area Wisely: Is London Safe?
There are a high number of boroughs in London and therefore plenty of opportunities for rental properties to exist. All these areas vary in popularity and therefore tenant subscription, depending on amenities and travel links, but there are some clear favourites, according to UpperKey. Yet despite places like Soho being so desirable to renters, property management in Soho is still subject to a high rate of crime, and therefore the status of an area does not exempt it from home invasion issues. If you already have a building in a low crime area, that is fortunate, but places like the aforementioned may need a little extra care and attention when it comes to making the property secure.
The areas with the lowest crime rates in London are:
These five areas are all just under or over 10 miles out from the Central London sub-area and are generally considered to have lower crime rates per thousand citizens compared to inner-city zones. The crime statistics consider burglaries and home invasions, personal theft, bike theft, and more.
Creating a Functioning Alarm System
Alarm systems are a deterrent and preventative method for combatting potential domestic robberies. Any extra security that is visible on a property is likely to make the crime more difficult to plan, commit and get away with. Therefore, by installing a good quality alarm system, you are adding an undeniable layer of safety. There are downsides to alarm systems though, mainly staying on top of the codes and admin between tenancies. Having an alarm is only useful if it is set and locked, and people do tend to forget. It can also create false tensions if it is set off accidentally or in the wrong context. Though any system could be linked up with a personal alert device to notify of any potential problems that may feel like a violation of the tenant to landlord relationship. Whether or not you put an alarm on your property is a personal choice, since there are reasonable arguments in favour of and against it.
Perhaps a better option is looking into what CCTV has to offer. Nearly 5% of the crime rate in London is owing to home invasions such as burglary. One method of putting home invaders off with their intentions is through visible deterrents, as discussed above. CCTV systems are better than alarms in that they provide visuals, so the risk of exposure and accountability is far greater than in other contexts. Robbers with a property in mind, especially if they have decided it is a highly lucrative venture, may have ways around CCTV systems such as vandalising cameras or cutting electrical wires to break the feed. However, to do this they are still exposed, if only briefly. So, it is worth having something in place for this reason alone.
Check In with Local Policing
It might not be at the top of your to do list but getting information from the local police department about what is happening in the area might help you retain the correct levels of vigilance. Sometimes, areas can feel a flux when it comes to crime rates and certain times may yield high spates of home invasion, leaving tenanted properties particularly vulnerable. They may be doing extra patrols or willing to offer some helpful advice on the matter. While these sprees don’t tend to last long, it is still better to be in the loop as opposed to running on a knowledge deficit with regard to a property that you own.
Changing the Locks Between Tenancies
There are lots of things that must happen at the end of any tenancy, says UpperKey, one of which is getting the keys to the property back from previous tenants. Yet, what is to say that they have returned every copy of the key? Blind trust with a relative stranger is not always easy to engage so one option landlords have for peace of mind around their property security is to change the locks. It is inexpensive and will definitely impede access for anyone with nefarious intentions returning to the property at a later date post tenancy. It also means anyone who has gained access to a copy of the key during the previous arrangement is immediately cut off to avoid mix ups and similar. Here are the key benefits to consider.
No chance that previous tenants can gain access to the property, regardless of their intentions. This is good for both landlord and the new tenants as they will be the only ones capable of gaining lawful access.
Eliminates the possibility of malicious entry through unauthorised key copies.
It adds to the overall security sense, therefore fulfilling your duties as a landlord.
Installing Locks on All Points of Entry
As a landlord, you have to do many things. One of these roles is to take a long, detailed walk around your property (internally and externally) and note down key points of entry. Why? The answer is simple. By creating this list and making yourself aware, you have a list of places that need locks or similar. With the additional safety feature of being lockable, windows, doors, gates, and more are less likely to be infiltrated by burglars. Most home robberies happen because there are easy points of access like a downstairs window that is easy to open or a universal lock on a front or back door, and there really is an easy solution to this. Try to follow these rules.
All windows, even upstairs ones, have to have a lock installed.
Avoid Yale style, common locks on front doors as this depletes the overall efficiency and therefore point of the lock in the first place.
Any gates on the property in any area have to be bolted and secured, preferably with a lock and key as well.
Cat and dog flaps should have a lock on them that tenants can manage independently.
Securing Garden Areas
Garden areas are one of the easiest places to gain further access to the interior of a house or building. They often have no gate at all or a climbable wall with limited security deterrents. To counteract this problem, consider beefing up the security in the rear garden areas in particular, even more so if the property leads onto a back alleyway or dingy street area with vehicle access. Places like this are extremely easy to enter and leave and therefore property owners must be aware of the threats and take appropriate action to counteract them. Don’t leave anything too valuable in the outside area, as this will be an immediate beacon for thieves and may even encourage them to look further.
Outdoor Lighting Benefits
Crimes are easier to commit in darkness, it’s just a fact. It is harder to see and therefore a natural time for predators such as thieves. Motion lights, otherwise known as security lights, are another asset that can be added easily to the exterior of a building to enhance safety. Despite the slightly annoying factor of lighting up at the smallest sign of movement (cats, foxes, etc.,) they are more than worth it and one of the key factors that will put potential burglars off from attempting to enter the property. It will also make coming back to the property at night much less stressful for tenants.
Landlord Insurance Considerations
Insurance is an essential for landlords, and some portions are mandatory if you want to rent a property in a domestic setting. There are lots of reasons why having a fully considered policy is the best option. Not only does it mean that if something were to happen, your personal property such as furniture would be protected, but it also means any damage to the building would be covered as well. While landlord insurance does not factor in the tenant’s property, it does consider the building itself. It may be worth suggesting that tenants acquire their own insurance policy should an incident happen, as to avoid further stress.
Ultimately, the tenant may decide to install additional security to the property but the core responsibility lies with the landlord as the owner. Basic factors like CCTV and security lighting are obvious deterrents as they make burglaries more difficult and increase accountability, but the security can be enhanced by extra measures like regular lock changes and therefore key updates. Tenanted properties are as vulnerable if not more than owned ones and they are still an asset that needs protecting.