It goes without saying that the ongoing global pandemic is affecting every aspect of day to day life. For landlords in particular it has brought its challenges; concerns about unpaid rents, longevity of the rental market, house prices. The list goes on, however one area which might be over looked during lock down, is the safety of your unoccupied properties. Despite government advice to stay at home, crime is still occurring, and it’s important to protect yourself and your property from this.
What are you protecting your property from?
Theft is an obvious one, with many individuals facing unemployment, it creates a desperate situation. Without proper security your property could be broken into and any goods holding scrap value such as furniture, furnishings, white goods and wiring could be stolen. Aside from the loss of good, there is also financial implications coming from the intrusion it’s self. Although protecting your home may cost you money, it’s better to spend this money protecting the property than fixing the damage caused by intruders.
Another risk that comes with vacant properties is squatters. Always a dreaded issue for landlords but a particularly complex case given the latest halt on evictions. Although guidelines are unclear as to what protection landlords have against squatters whilst the eviction ban is in place, it is best to take a prevention approach to this problem.
Another point to mention here is that you are also protecting the validity of your home insurance. Many providers require vacant properties to be checked every so often as a term in their inaccuracy policy. Although the pandemic offers some protection from having to visit the property, you still must be seen to be taking all reasonable measures to protect your rental home during lock down in order to make a claim.
Is your property vacant?
This may seem like a strange question as typically you know if a tenant resides in your property right? However it’s important to consider that during the government lock down certain individuals are not isolating at home. Some people have moved in with partners or family members during lock down, others may have had to stay with someone who could provide childcare as they work from home during school closures. It’s also important to consider the virus itself, COVID-19 currently has around 15,000 hospitalised in the UK, some of these unfortunate individuals will be tenants. The underlying point here is that like all issues being thrown at landlords from this pandemic, communication with your tenants is so incredibly important. Keep in touch, check in to make sure they are healthy, they are financially coping and of course that your property is occupied and safe.
How do I keep my property safe?
There are many ways to do this, some more costly than others. It’s up to you to decide
- Remove all valuables from the property. Obvious right? Yet easily overlooked. The less valuable items within the property, the less appealing to thieves.
- Keep in contact with neighbours. Keeping connected at this time is so important to all of us, but from a landlords prospective if you can ask neighbours to keep an eye on the property, it doesn’t cost you anything and helps you keep an eye on things.
- Professional level security, this will come at a cost however when considering the costs you could be looking at with theft & eviction of squatters, its better to be safe than sorry. Professional companies can be hired install protective measures to vacant properties, this could include anything from key free smart locks to CCTV surveillance or even concrete barriers to prevent drive way fly tipping.
The most important thing during these times is staying home to maintain health and safety of others. Taking the steps mentioned in this article gives you as a landlord one less thing to worry about, making it easier for you to stick to the governments lock down policy whilst ensuring your property is safe and your insurance policy will not be voided. Keep connected, keep safe.