The main Summer holidays are finally here with millions of Brits leaving home for a well earned break in the countryside, beside the sea or on some far flung beach abroad.
But alongside the promise of good weather and carefree days lies a potential threat that reaches peak proportions throughout August …… house burglary.
Whilst the UK’s crime rate fell by an unexpected 15 per cent to an estimated 7.5m offences throughout 2013, burglaries were still being recorded at around the 34/35,000 mark each month at the beginning of 2014.
During the weeks up to mid September more than 7 million people will set off for holiday spots, many of them leaving property empty for a week or two
With 43 per cent of burglaries committed whilst property is unoccupied, Belvoir Bedford which has an office in Tavistock Street is urging both landlord and tenant clients to be vigilant by protecting their investment or the place they regard as home throughout this vulnerable period.
Belvoir owner Zoe Bywater , says: “We often find that landlords and tenants place less importance on security than home owners. There is sometimes confusion over whose responsibility it is – but we always advise both parties to take precautionary steps to ensure security is of the highest level.
“In around 20 per cent of all household burglaries, access is via an unsecured door or window so we always suggest that particular attention is paid to strong, secure door (and window) locks not just inside, but outside or leading up to the property.
“We take the safety and wellbeing of our tenants and the secure maintenance of landlords’ properties very seriously and can offer specialist advice on most insurance and maintenance issues to help protect them,” adds Zoe Bywater
Belvoir have compiled a quick check list of tips, to help keep a rental property safe and secure:
- Don’t advertise the fact that a property is unoccupied for a long period of time by leaving all curtains closed day and night.
- Use security timer switches which turn on lights and radios automatically at regular intervals.
- Move any valuables out of sight of windows.
- Do not ‘publicise’ your holiday plans on social media –Facebook/Twitter etc – or leave answer machine messages indicating you are away.
- Cancel or postpone any expected deliveries and consider using Royal Mail’s ‘Keep Safe’ service.
- Do not leave keys near entry points where they can be ‘fished’ or ‘hooked’ out through windows, letter boxes or cat flaps.
- Do not leave keys on view behind glass that can be smashed to retrieve them.
- Never leave keys in ‘hiding’ places outside, such as under bricks, bins or on ledges etc.
- If a burglar alarm is fitted to the property, check and set it before going away.
- If a tenant, it may be advisable to let your landlord or lettings agent know the dates you plan to be away, and provide a contact number.
- Property stored outside in sheds and outbuildings (ladders/picks/shovels, etc.) can not only be stolen, but could also be used to break into the main property. Either secure them with a strong lock/bolt mechanism or take them inside the main property for the duration of your absence.
- Any other valuables, such as bicycles, lawnmowers, etc, should also be very tightly secured or, again, locked up inside the property.
- If planning to leave a vehicle in front of a house unmoved, for a long period of time, consider making arrangements for someone you know and trust to carry out regular checks and ’turn over’ the engine in case it is being targeted by thieves.
- If possible, mark all valuables with ultra violet pens, Smartwater or other forensic marking devices so that, should the worse happen, your property can be easily identified by the Police.
- And finally, ensure all insurance policies are current and ‘fit for purpose’ in terms of range and levels of cover.
Zoe adds: “No-one likes to contemplate the possibility that their property could be broken into and often ransacked during a burglary – but it’s an important issue that both landlords and tenants should consider when attempting to safeguard both buildings and belongings.
There are a wide range of insurance options and products which cover landlord and tenant obligations in the event of burglary to a rented property, and we can point clients in the right direction if they need specific advice.
“But the general rule is to take as many commonsense precautions as possible to assess risk and implement measures to minimise threats whilst you are away enjoying yourself.”