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Protecting your property against burglaries - advice for landlords

This week we are trying to reach landlords and tenants to help protect them against burglaries. The National Crime Survey (2016) showed a general pattern in which private and social renters were more likely to be victims than owner occupiers.

We are looking at how landlords and tenants can keep their property safe and who is responsible for what. Safer properties might help attract future tenants too.

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We spoke to Tim Gibbs from the National Landlords Association to get his top tips for landlords.

1. Are there any safety standards that landlords are expected to abide by?

Landlords have a legal duty to ensure the security of their tenanted properties.  This means that, for example, should a front door lock become faulty the landlord is obliged to respond promptly (typically 24 hours) from being notified and make the property secure again.

2. Do you have any top tips for landlords to help keep their property safe from burglars?

Property in the private rented sector varies significantly so protecting against burglary requires assessment of each particular case. 

The requirements can vary across different situations such as HMO (Houses of Multiple Occupation), houses, flats, gated communities, etc.  The tenant clearly has a role to play in this as well and typically has more to lose from the theft of high-value personal items.

Forced entry to a property usually means extra costs to the landlord too, so it can pay to be a security-conscious landlord.

Tenants are often new to the locality and may also be naive with respect to their new environment, so a good interaction between the landlord (or the agent) and the tenant on security can help.

Measures the landlord can use include:

  • Using British Standard approved locks with security keys that cannot be readily duplicated.
  • Good key management and ensuring keys are not left hidden around the property.
  • Ensuring fences, gates, entrance doors, and other boundaries are kept in a good condition.
  • Assisting tenants to understand the risks and what they can do to protect themselves.
  • Ensuring the tenant is clearly aware of responsibilities and boundaries for insurance cover.
  • Having regular property maintenance checks undertaken.
  • Installing security alarms, lighting and external cameras (clearly with the knowledge and consent of tenants).
  • Keeping a good relationship with neighbours, so that they keep you informed of problems.

3. What should landlords do if they are concerned about how tenants are keeping the property safe? 

Engage with the tenant.  Make them aware of the risks they run and work with them to agree a plan for better security.

4. What should landlords do if there is damage to their property following a break-in?

In the majority of cases the landlord will have a buildings insurance policy (although furnished lets may also include contents insurance) and the tenant a contents insurance policy for their personal items.   Where theft of items has occurred as well as property damage then both insurance policies may need to refer to the same crime number.  It's therefore important that the landlord and tenant coordinate in the reporting of the crime to the police and thereafter keep each party informed with their respective claims. 

The landlord will need to respond quickly to ensure the property is made safe,  secure and habitable for the tenant.  Again, most insurance policies designed for tenanted property are familiar with these circumstances and will have a procedure to follow depending on the level of cover provided.  It's vital that landlords are familiar with the terms of their insurance policies before the event happens - as with fire and flood it's often too easy to think "It won't happen to me".

Tim GibbsTim is a Representative for the South West region of the National Landlords Association (NLA), the UK's largest landlord organisation, and has been a landlord for 9 years covering both residential and commercial property.  Since joining the NLA, Tim has learnt that there's a lot more to being a good landlord than often first thought, and has since become accredited with the organisation, and also a representative for it.  Tim now runs a series of regular informative meetings, free to members, to help landlords meet their changing legislative obligations, keep them informed, and them improve portfolio efficiency.  More details are available at here.