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Property landlords have responsibilities to ensure that empty premises are safe and secure at all times. But with several threats to contend with, it can be difficult knowing which actions to take to prevent theft, vandalism or damage to a rental property. However long the building will be vacant for, you need to take precautions to minimise the risks that are associated with an empty property. Here are a few ways you can secure your rental property from unauthorised access.
If the property is accessible to you and close enough to make regular visits, this should be a priority to ensure that everything is ok and the property is as you left it. However, if you aren’t able to make checks yourself, you can see if there’s a service in the area that can manage the property for you, or a neighbourhood watch group who can keep an eye on the property. In addition to regular inspections, remote security measures are essential to not only keep track of the site but also to deter potential intruders.
If the property is vacant because it’s undergoing maintenance or refurbishments, securing the surrounding area is critically important for safety and to protect the property itself. Construction sites pose a security risk at the best of times. But with the potential for trespassers to enter the site and cause damage like sabotaging wiring or performing arson, property owners have a responsibility to secure the surrounding area properly if it’s going to be vacant. Securing the perimeters of the site with fencing and locked gates is critical to prevent intruders but also to protect pedestrians from the dangers on-site.
Good lighting is an important deterrent, preventing criminals who might think twice about attempting to break into a well-lit site. If you don’t already have them in place, install motion-sensor lights that light up the site when activity is detected. These sensors should be installed at various points, both inside and outside, to trigger an alarm if someone enters the property. Another option is installing silent alarms to prevent burglaries which are designed to contact the police directly without the intruders knowing, increasing the chance that they will be caught.
Fire hazards are still present, even if the property is vacant, as arsonists can pose a threat to your property. If the property has a sprinkler system, make sure they are continually maintained as they would be if the property was occupied, to help protect the premises. It can also be wise to install smart smoke alarms and fire technology so that first responders can be notified automatically. It’s an investment that can improve response times dramatically and save you thousands in the long term.
Make sure that every potential point of entry to your property is locked down - this might mean upgrading to steel exterior doors and using hinge plates to make the entrance more difficult to break into. Similarly, board up basement and ground floor windows, while also locking them if possible, and any other points where someone could get in or cause damage. Landlords may want to replace all of the locks to the site to make it easier to track who has access to the property, as only tradespeople and construction workers will have keys to the property. Smart locks can make it easy to provide access to the property remotely so you can be sure who is going in and out of the site.
If the property is likely to be vacant for a long period of time, it’s a good idea to inform your insurance company and notify authorities in the local area so that they are aware that the property is empty. Many insurance firms offer vacant property insurance to protect you fully and maintain adequate cover for the site.
Securing an empty property might incur additional expenses, in the form of extra security measures or upgrading existing doors and boundary systems. But the investment in ensuring your rental property is protected is worthwhile, and can help reduce the risk of even higher costs associated with repairing damage or replacing stolen equipment.
Dwell Well with Moving and Improving