How was that extra hour in bed last weekend? While most of us associate the clocks going back as a good result in the sleep stakes, for thieves the early evening darkness can be seen as an opportunity.
As the long winter nights start to close in, home security has never been more crucial and, for landlords, ensuring your property and tenants are safe is a key obligation.
Burglary claims with home insurance providers rise by more than a third when the clocks go back, according to the Co-op Insurance.
Knowing what to do to, as both a landlord and tenant, to protect your property and the contents inside it can help... so follow Martin & Co Camberley's guide to home security below.
WHAT AFFECT DO THE SEASONS HAVE ON CRIME?
Most burglaries take place under the cover of darkness, so late autumn and winter does see a rise in the number of home burglaries.
While summer also sees a spike in property crime due to homes being left unoccupied for periods of holiday, the light evenings make actually carrying out the crime far more difficult. In winter, the cover of darkness only aids a burglar.
SO, WHAT CAN I DO AS A LANDLORD?
The first step to take is to install motion detecting security lights. These are relatively cheap to install and no burglar likes to be illuminated from the street on a dark winter night. According to the Co-op, which spoke to reformed burglars, 26% said they would have avoided homes with motion lights completely.
CCTV cameras are also becoming popular as a burglary deterrent, although these are more expensive to install and require maintenance.
However, as a landlord if you are committed to providing the best security possible for your buy-to-let property and tenants, CCTV cameras and an alarm system can be the most effective way to deter both pre-planned and opportunistic burglaries.
However, you will need to ensure you have educated your tenants on the use of this kind of equipment, both in terms of its operation and maintenance. After all, what good are cameras or an alarm system if they are not switched on?
WHAT PART CAN MY TENANTS PLAY?
A key one. Firstly, all tenants should take out a contents insurance policy to protect their personal items for the duration of the tenancy agreement. This is not your responsibility as a landlord, but you can, and should, advise they protect their belongings.
It can be a good idea to provide your tenants with a guide to home security, such as this one.
They should ensure they do the following:
* Set up lights on a timer switch when the property is empty: This can deter a burglar who will think someone is home. However, try to set different time patterns for different lights to switch on and off... burglars often scope out properties for a period of time and the same lights coming on at the same time each evening will alert them that the property is actually empty.
* Shut and lock all windows and doors when leaving the property: It might be an obvious one, but a window or door can be missed when leaving in a hurry. Tenants should take time to check all windows and doors are secure each time they leave to go out.
* Secure outbuildings, garages and sheds: Again, the security of these outdoor buildings is easy to forget, yet your tenants will likely be storing valuable items in them. A lawn mower, car, expensive tools or children's bikes are all a great result for a burglar with Christmas round the corner so make sure your tenants know to keep all outbuildings secure at all times.
* Tell the landlord when they are away: As well as being a good time for you can carry out checks or maintenance on your buy-to-let, being aware of when your tenants are away can help with home security. One tell-tell sign of an empty property is a pile of post on the inside of a porch or sticking out of a letter box. This is like a red rag to a bull for a burglar and they won't need a second invitation. By being aware that your tenants are away, you can arrange for regular visits to clear away any post, make the property look 'lived in' and check all security measures are in place.