The clocks are going back this weekend. The nights are closing in.
And if you’re a landlord and you’re not thinking about your buy-to-let property’s security, now is the time.
While we’ll be enjoying an extra hour in bed at the weekend, you can bet your bottom dollar thieves will be seeing the increased darkness as an opportunity.
According to Co-op Insurance, burglary claims rise by more than a third as soon as the UK switches back to winter time, so taking some additional steps to protect your property as a landlord will be worthwhile for you and your tenants.
The seasonal effect on crime
Darkness to a burglar is like cookies to cream.
So, once autumn becomes winter and the nights close in during the late afternoon, the cover of darkness provides plenty of chances for burglars to strike.
Of course, summer, too, is prime time for burglaries with so many homeowners and tenants being away, but the light evenings present far more risk.
Property security during the winter: Motion lights
Given darkness is a burglar’s best friend, the first thing to do as a landlord is to take that away from them.
That means installing motion detecting security lights at your buy-to-let property.
No burglar wants a spotlight right on them – with the Co-op research revealing 26% of burglars would avoid homes with motion detecting lights.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Big Brother is watching you’.
Well, as a landlord, you can be that big brother.
There’s nothing that strikes fear into a burglar more than CCTV. After all, the moving picture is evidence. And evidence usually leads to time in prison.
Of course, CCTV is more expensive to install than security like motion lights, but it can be a hugely effective way to deter burglars.
But it needs to be used to its full potential. And that means explaining fully to your tenants how it works and stressing the importance of using it.
How tenants can help deter winter crime
Your tenants are in the property most of the time.
So, while there’s plenty you can do as a landlord to keep winter crime at bay, your tenants will play an even more crucial role.
But only if you make clear their responsibilities towards the security of your rental property.
Tell you tenants to:
- Set up timers for lights when they are not at home. Burglars are as put off by internal lights as they are external, but tell your tenants to set different times for different lights on different days. Burglars will often scope out a property for days so the same lights on at the same times could mean they work out the property is empty.
- Make sure all doors and windows are shut and locked when they leave the property. The first rule of home security is making sure entry points are closed and sealed, but it’s surprisingly how many people either forget, or assume a burglary won’t happen to them.
- Lock up outbuildings or the garage. If your tenants are storing their things, or you’re storing yours, in outbuildings like sheds or a garage, ensure your tenants know to lock everything up at all times. Mowers, tools or a car are a big pay day for a burglar, so don’t make it easy for them.
- Let you know when they are away for any length of time. If you’re nearby, you can keep an eye on the property while they are elsewhere. Post piled up on a doormat is like an open invite to a burglar, so if you know your tenants are away, you can pop round and clear it away.
- Avoid announcing trips or holidays on social media. Modern burglars are pretty adept at digital media, so those lovely Instagram snaps of your tenants enjoying some winter sun will be all a criminal needs to know your property is empty and fair game for a raid.