How to keep your property secure while tenants are on holiday

Even if you manage to avoid the voids between tenancies, it is likely that your tenants will be absent from your property at some point and your most valuable asset will be left vacant for a period of time. It is vital that you provide guidance to your tenants on keeping your property safe and secure when they are not there, to minimise the chances of a break-in or other eventuality that may result in a time-consuming and costly insurance claim.

 

Should tenants notify the landlord when they are going on holiday?

It is a good idea to include a term in your lease that the tenant must inform you if the property is going to be vacant for a given period of time (for example over 14 days). This is useful for landlord insurance purposes (particularly if the tenant will be absent for over 30 days) but also enables you to have a conversation with your tenant, before they go away, about keeping the property secure and how they can be contacted in an emergency.

 

What can you do to make sure your property is safe and secure before your tenant moves in?

Obviously, it will be easier for your tenant to minimise risks if you have taken the time to thoroughly prepare the property before they move in and carried out regular inspections. This will ensure that the measures you have taken continue to be adequate and effective, particularly if the property will be vacant for a long period of time.

The measures you should take include:

  • Installing a five lever mortice lock for external timber doors or a three multi-point locking system for PVC-u external doors to keep your home safe from burglars.
  • Ensuring that double key deadbolts are attached to windows easily accessible from outside but not to designated escape windows
  • Fitting a lock to side access gates and ensuring that garage locks are secure
  • In a shared property (such as a block of flats), the freeholder or appointed manager is responsible for making sure the main entrance door to a shared property has a lock that meets the above standard
  • Installing at the very least a visual burglar alarm to act as a deterrent, but ideally a working alarm as well as external security lights
  • Ensuring doors fit properly into their frame and are free from damage
  • Getting to know the neighbours – communities that work together are more likely to be vigilant about looking out for each other’s properties. There may be a neighbourhood watch scheme that you could join

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Top ten tips for tenants

You could share this checklist with your tenant so that they know what to do to minimise risks during their absence:

1. Clear out fridges and freezers and empty bins if you are going away

2. Switch off all electronic devices and don’t forget to turn these off at the power source too

3. Lock the doors and windows every time you leave the house, remembering to double lock PVC-u doors

4. Hide all keys and valuables out of sight from ground floor windows and away from the letterbox

5. If you have a working burglar alarm installed in the property it is also advisable to have a contact plan in place should the alarm go off while the property is vacant. If the system uses sensors in the rooms, be sure to check that these are working and replace the batteries if required

6. Make sure external security lights are functioning and switched on

7. Leave radios and lights in the property on a timer to make the property appear occupied

8. Ensure side gates are locked to prevent access to the rear of the property

9. Let a trusted neighbour know when you are away so that they can keep bins in order and ensure that post is not left hanging out of the letterbox

10. Don’t tell everyone you’re going on holiday, particularly not on social media – you don’t know who will read your comments or who they will tell!

Taking the time to establish a good working relationship with your tenant will encourage them to take the necessary precautions to safeguard your property in their absence.

Should the worst happen and there is a fire, flood or break-in while your property is vacant it is important that you and your tenants are protected with the correct insurance (buildings and contents).

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