We can all agree that the key to a happy tenancy is a positive relationship between landlord and tenant. Speaking of keys, when was the last time you changed the locks in your rental property? Even if there is no legal requirement directly stating that you should change the locks after every tenancy, it is the landlord’s legal and moral obligations to ensure the security of their rental property.

Privately rented properties tend to be less secure, and there are numerous reasons for that. Unsurprisingly, burglars don’t choose their victims in a day. They examine the target properties for some time, spotting the security flaws and inhabitants’ patterns. So, if your tenants tend to change often, there is a chance that your property might be under a burglar’s radar. That is why it is important to implement certain security measures to increase your rental home security. 

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So, if you want to:

  • Prevent your rental property from being burgled;
  • Find out how often you should change locks;
  • Ensure your tenants’ security.

Then read on! This post will be quite helpful to you.

Meet your security obligations

“It is a landlord’s basic responsibility to provide a secure home”. This mantra-like sentence can be found in every blog post out there on the Internet. And they are not wrong, it is indeed a fair statement. 

While it is a legal obligation to provide a secure and hazard-free living space, in the context of locks, this can be interpreted as “as long as the doors can be locked, and windows can stay closed, the property is secure”. If a door can be easily removed or any parts of it shattered, there won’t be any point in locks. Your tenants have to be sure that while they are gone, no one will invade their new home. Hence, make sure that your rental property has not only functioning locks but also windows, patio doors, garages and sheds, protected from break-ins. 

If your property has a history of burglary, be sure to upgrade its security. Burglars usually return to the places they tried to break into before, as owners fail to improve the security measures. 

Unfortunately, there are no minimum requirements for the safety of the property itself, unless they are stated in the tenancy agreement. That is why we highly recommend having basic security obligations stated in the final version of your rental agreement. That way, you can be sure that you are protected from unfair accusations after your tenants have left the key under a doormat. In case your rental agreement does not mention any specific security obligations, you still have to provide “a secure rental property”. 

Either way, it’s necessary to enhance the security of your property by investing in durable locks and solid doors. 

Related: Front Door Security: 6 Ways to Improve It

Implement preventative measures

Let’s be honest – if a burglar sees an opportunity in your property, they will try to overcome any obstacle that they might face. That is why it is so important to implement security measures. The more barriers for a break-in there are, the more time it will take for a burglar to get into your rental property. Hopefully, if there are too many risks for them to be caught, they will give up.

Another important thing to remember – if burglars attempt to break in, they are most likely to make sure that no one’s home. And, as the majority of us have work during the day, one of the most popular times for burglaries is between 12 PM and 6 PM. In other cases, burglars are likely to make their move at night, between 12 AM and 6 AM. And that’s not just speculation, either – those are real statistics.

So, here is a list of things you can do to ensure home security for your renters:

  • Assess the security of your rental property. Ask yourself the following questions: Are locks installed on the front and back doors, gates, or any other entrances? Is there window protection? Are the current security measures reliable?
  • Check if every lock is fit for its purpose. Locks fall into the wear and tear category. If you or your tenants noticed that the keys are not turning properly or jamming from time to time, it is time to replace the old locks;
  • Change the locks after each tenancy agreement. Tenants want to know if the place they are renting is secure. How can they feel protected if there is a chance that someone out there might have a duplicate key? If you can’t change the locks yourself, consider getting a lock change service;
  • Install window protection, if needed. If you think that any of the windows can serve as a potential entry spot for burglars, you can install bars, laminated glass or security films;
  • Install lighting around the property if you let out a house. Exterior security lights can serve your tenants a good deal if burglars try to break in during the night. Intruders don’t like to be seen;
  • Get property insurance. In the worst-case scenario, a landlord insurance policy will cover the damages form a break-in and the cost of the missing items;
  • Install CCTV, if possible. Security cameras are the best deterrent to criminals so far. However, the installation requires investment, which might not seem reasonable for a rental property;
  • Install a burglar alarm, if possible. Alarms are a serious investment that requires regular maintenance. An alarm can add value to your property, however, not every tenant is willing to pay additionally for it.

Change the locks 

Now that you know what preventative measures should be implemented, let’s talk a bit more about changing locks. 

There is no direct rule mentioning the change of locks between tenancies, that is why most landlords don’t even consider it as an important thing to do. As long as they are working, there is nothing to worry about. This is not quite true. Rental properties have a higher chance of being burgled, all due to the inadequate security measures and lack of permanent residence.

Whenever you rent your property out, there is a chance that your previous tenants have made several duplicates of the keys that you might not even know about. If nothing in the rental agreement states that your tenants are not allowed to make the copies of the keys, it might not even be considered a violation of the agreement. Those duplicates might fall into someone else’s hands, which threatens the security of your rental property.

Another common situation that can cause security concerns is when your tenants lose their keys, or even worse – the keys get stolen. This again involves a potential risk of theft. 

In situations like these, you should react swiftly and consider changing the locks. As it is a serious issue, you might add a provision to the tenancy agreement, stating that in case of any actions that undermine the security of the property, the cost of changing the locks falls on the tenants.

Can tenants change locks?

As a landlord, you probably don’t want your property to be changed without your knowledge. We hate to disappoint you, but unless your agreement states the opposite, tenants are allowed to change the locks without notification and even hold the spare key. If the lock change is done not for security purposes, but to prevent a landlord from coming in, you should still be able to gain access to the property for the planned visits, like regular maintenance and Gas Safety checks.

If you don’t want to find yourself in such an unpleasant situation, make sure that your rental agreement clearly states that tenants can not implement any changes in your property without your approval.

Tip: An unexpected issue like that can undermine the trust between you and your tenants. However, don’t rush to conclusions and try to communicate the issue with your tenants. After all, it is their right to enjoy the property without feeling unprotected.

What are the best locks for a rental property?

One of the ways to protect your rental property from burglaries is to install theft-resistant locks. They usually come with the British Standard Kitemark (BSI) and the Standard number BS3621 stamped on the faceplate of your locks. The next time you open the door, check if your locks comply with the standards. 

The BS3621-approved locks are designed to be resistant to burglary techniques. If the burglars decide to drill the locks, they will spend at least 5 minutes trying to go through hardened metal plates. The same applies to bolt attacks. Moreover, the locks have an anti-picking mechanism, which adds another obstacle for the burglars to overcome. 

Here we have picked the most common types of door locks that you might consider installing:

  • Five lever Mortice lock. This type of lock is fitted in the material of the door and has, as you could have guessed, five levers that the key has to push in order to move the bolt. Quite reliable against common burglary techniques;
  • Multi-point locking system. Having more locking points, this system secures the door along the door frame. The mechanism requires only one cylinder, which can be upgraded any time;
  • Rim automatic deadlatch with key-locking handle (Nightlatch). These locks can be locked and unlocked with a handle on the inside and a key on the outside. Unless it’s a BS3621 lock, it is recommended to install it as an additional lock;
  • Euro-cylinder lock. This is one of the most common types of locks. Very easy to operate, however, they are quite prone to lock snapping. Unless it fits the standards, you might want to use it as an additional lock;
  • Smart locks. As we live in the future, some locks do not require keys. To unlock the door, simply put in a code and boom! – no more bag digging to find the key. These locks can also be controlled through your phone. This technology is not quite implemented yet, as some security concerns arise among people. And, for a landlord, it might be quite pricey. 

Your final choice predominantly depends on the type of doors you have and the amount of money you are ready to spend. Consider asking your local locksmith to give you more information on what the best option will be for your rental property. 

Educate your tenants

As soon as you hand over the keys to your property, your tenants are partially in charge of the safety and security in their new home. You might reduce the chances of theft in your property to some extent by giving your tenants the following home security tips:  

  • Use a burglar alarm or any other system that the property has;
  • Turn the lights on when out and about;
  • Don’t leave valuable items on display;
  • Don’t leave the keys in a postbox, under a stone or doormat, or any other easily reachable spots; 
  • Insure your belongings;
  • Don’t share your location on social media;
  • If you suspect a crime, immediately call the police and the landlord.

Still don’t know what security measures to implement?

If you are not completely sure what kind of locks will be the best for your rental property, contact the Fantastic Services team to get our expert opinion. Whether you want to change your old locks or install new ones, the professionals we work with will make sure that all your locks comply with the BS3621 standards. Without any doubt, theft-resistant and durable locks are their specialisation. If you are also thinking of a CCTV installation, don’t forget to mention it when you book your lock installation service!

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Takeaways

  • Be realistic. All the security measures are implemented to slow down burglars, and hopefully scare them away;
  • Regularly assess the security measures of your rental property. Replace the old locks with durable ones, invest in window protection and outdoor lighting;
  • Communicate the security obligations with your tenants;
  • Your tenants have a right to feel secure in the rental property, don’t ignore their concerns;
  • Burglars like to attack when no one’s home, that is why the most preferred time for attacks is from 12 PM to 6 PM and 12 AM to 6 AM.

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Do you have any personal experiences or advice on rental property security? Feel free to share in the comments down below! There is a chance that your advice can help someone.

  • Last update: November 10, 2020

Posted in Home Security and Safety Tips, Moving and Packing Tips

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