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Protect Your Rental Property From Opportunistic Thieves

Protect Your Rental Property From Opportunistic Thieves

Help tenants protect your rental property
whilst they are on holiday

The last 2 weeks in August are usually one of the busiest times of the year for people taking holidays, and tenants in rented accommodation are no exception.

However, it is also a very popular period for opportunistic thieves too, according to price comparison website, Gocompare.com, who reckon that 1 in 5 homes in the UK have been subject to vandalism or theft from gardens whilst the occupants were away on holiday and the average value of possessions either damaged or stolen equates to just over £300 (GBP), however, in 16% of UK insurance claims, damage or theft losses totalled over £500 (GBP).

There are a couple of things that you, as the landlord can do to ensure the continued security of your rental property, such as

  • Make sure your Landlord Insurance is valid and up to date
  • Install security lighting
  • Use thorny or prickly plants at boundary edges, such as Roses or Pyrancantha for defensive planting
  • Repair any broken fences or boundary gaps to deter opportunist thieves.

If you know that your tenants are going away on holiday, there are a few simple tips you can help them with that can stop them avoid becoming victims of opportunistic thieves

  • Ask tenants to ensure they have Tenants Contents Insurance in place
  • Make sure all doors and windows are locked and secure
  • Where practical, put lights on automatic timers to make it appear that someone is home.
  • Ask neighbours to keep an eye and an ear on the property, better still ask a neighbour that the tenant trusts to go in and open and close curtains and switch on random lights at different times of the evening.
  • If the property is alarmed, put it on and inform the neighbours, but make sure they have the landlords contact details in case it goes off.
  • Lock sheds and entrances to the garden.
  • Pack away any garden tools or equipment and make sure they are well out of sight
  • Secure expensive plants with wire pegs dug into the ground around the root ball
  • Use a security pen to mark valuable items, like plant pots, garden furniture, ornaments or garden play items such as trampolines, with the postcode of the property.

According to the research carried out by GoCompare, the top five items stolen or damaged from gardens were:

  • Bicycles (20%)
  • Garden sculptures or ornaments (16%)
  • Trees or shrubs (15%)
  • Garden furniture (12%)
  • Lawn mowers (8%)

To emphasise the point about needing landlord insurance, below are some statistics compiled about 2012 burglary hotspots, by postcode.

Burglary Hotspots in 2012
Burglary Hotspots in 2012

Don’t become another statistic, act now
and get the best price for your Landlord Insurance

Tenant Damage can be costly

Tenants may cause serious damage to rental property

Who pays for repairing the damage at a rental property can depend on what exactly has gone wrong.

Landlords are responsible for damage to the fabric of the property, such as, missing roof slates causing damp, broken down boilers and leaks and all landlords should have suitable Buy-To-Let insurance in place to cover the costs of repairs.

Tenants may also have to put their hands in their pockets if the landlord considers damage to fixtures and fittings is beyond normal wear and tear. Ie. The day-to-day deterioration of a property, like scuffs to the decor, carpets wearing and screws coming loose. There are suitable insurance policies out there specifically for tenants.

A fairly high proportion of Tenancy Deposit disputes relate to disagreements about what exactly comes under the definition of normal wear and tear.

Landlords need to make this call, and be prepared to back their judgment with evidence if required to do so at independent adjudication should a tenant lodge a complaint against having money deducted from the deposit.

Normal wear and tear is not defined in law, but the definition comes from years of rulings in disputed cases before the courts.

A judge or adjudicator is likely to consider normal wear and tear as damage or deterioration to a property arising from normal usage.

That triggers a debate about normal usage, which varies from case to case. For example, normal usage in a family home with a couple of toddlers is vastly different to that in a property lived in by a single pensioner.

• Normal wear and tear may include – finger marks near electrical sockets and switches; scuffs on doors and walls; tack holes; faded or peeling paint or faded soft furnishings
• Damage may include – writing or drawing on walls; holes in walls or woodwork; nail holes that need filling and repainting; carpet stains; burn marks; ripped soft furnishings or missing fittings.

Problems arise if the tenant’s deposit is not enough to cover the landlords cost of cleaning and repairs.

Often a tenant who mistreats a buy to let property is likely to have rent arrears as well and the landlord may be forced to go through the eviction process and get the tenant out before repairs can be started .

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