The children are now off school, which means one thing for property owners – holidays! If you’re a landlord and your tenants are going on holiday this summer, you must remember to protect your property.
Whether your tenants are going abroad or staying in the UK for their break, it is important to take extra steps to keep your property safe while they’re away.
Not only are empty properties prime targets for burglars, but they’re also more prone to damage. Specialist landlord insurance provider Just Landlords has some top tips for protecting your investment during the holiday season.
5 top tips for home security when your tenants are on holiday
Lock the doors!
This goes without saying, but you would be surprised to find that many people forget to lock their doors before going on holiday.
It is a landlord’s duty to check all locks and ensure they are safe before the start of each tenancy, but you must always remind tenants to secure all lockable doors and windows before going away. Additionally, if your property has gates, a shed or a garage, ask tenants to lock these securely to prevent access to the premises.
Not only should you make sure that your tenants have working keys for the property, but don’t forget to give them keys for windows. As it’s been hot recently, your tenants may have forgotten to lock their windows after they’ve closed them – give them a gentle reminder to lock all windows before going away.
It is also a good idea to suggest to tenants that they close internal doors before going on holiday, as this will slow down the spread of fire if one was to occur while the property is unoccupied.
Burglar alarms and motion-sensor lighting are some of the most effective methods of deterring burglars. But it doesn’t stop with alarms and security lights – your tenants can take simple steps to ensure the property appears occupied.
Providing your tenants with light and radio timers can be a small, short-term expense that saves a lot of trouble in the long-term. Ask tenants to set timers on internal lights and perhaps a radio for the evenings so that the property looks lived in from the street.
Depending on how long they’re away, it can also be a good idea for tenants to have their post temporarily redirected so that it doesn’t stack up behind the door.
If your rental property doesn’t currently have a burglar alarm or motion-senor lights, consider installing these features to deter any thieves that target your investment.
Check your policy: home and contents insurance
Depending on how long your tenant is away, you may need to inform your landlord insurance provider that your property is empty.
The majority of insurance companies will need to know if your property is going to be vacant for an extended period of time, and a good insurance provider will be able to easily swap your policy over from tenanted to unoccupied.
This is a crucial step for landlords, as your cover may become invalid if you do not inform your provider – always check your insurance documents carefully and protect your property with a comprehensive policy.
In addition, there may be a clause in your insurance policy that requires your property to have a burglar alarm or functioning central heating system over the winter months. It is vital that you check these details so that you are covered.
As soon as your tenants tell you they are going to be away, note down the dates and ask them whether you can make regular inspections during this period. If your tenants deny you access to the property, it is worth asking them whether they can arrange for neighbours to pop round to check everything over.
It is always a good idea to have someone on hand who can put the dustbin out on the appropriate day, mow the lawn if it becomes long and park a car on the driveway.
If you live close enough to the property, or a neighbour has agreed to go round, opening and closing the curtains everyday will create the illusion of someone living in the house.
However, make sure you know the burglar alarm code if your property has one – you don’t want to be caught setting off the alarm of your own property!
Many people are keen to share their holiday stories and photos on social media. Ask your tenants to avoid saying anything about when they will be away, as this is a prime advertisement to thieves.
Dan Williams, of Just Landlords, also has some suggestions: “It is a good idea to write a clause in the tenancy agreement that requires tenants to take reasonable precautions when going on holiday. This way, your tenants will know exactly what they should do and you will be covered if your property suffers damage.
“Also remember that your property may be more at risk of damage in the winter months – advise tenants to keep the heating on if they are going to be away overnight.”
Landlords, although you leave your property in the hands of your tenants for long periods of time, don’t risk damage to your investment while your tenants are on holiday.