Finally – you’re all moved in. But while you’re busy unpacking those boxes, make sure you’re also thinking about the best way to secure your home. Is it up to you to protect your new pad and possessions? Or is it down to your landlord?
In England, around one in five households live in private rentals 1, making it the second-largest tenure behind owner occupiers. A further 17% are in the social rented sector 1. And the market’s growing; according to the Residential Landlords Association, predictions suggest around one in four people will live in a rented home by 2021.
As a renter, it may feel like you have less control over who’s allowed past your front door. And with tenancies tending to be short term, there’s uncertainty around previous occupiers – were they up to no good within the four walls you now consider home? Who came and went? More importantly, do they or anyone else have a key?
Here’s what you need to know as a tenant and tips for how to make your house secure.
Is it the landlord’s responsibility to protect my home?
Your landlord has a responsibility to provide a safe home that’s free from health hazards. Locks should be changed after each tenant leaves to restrict who has access – if the landlord doesn’t want to change them, you can do it with their permission.
All doors, windows, garages and sheds should have suitable locks. Exit and entrance doors are required to have a deadbolt and landlords are advised that front doors should also have chains and a peephole. In multi-occupancy buildings, an intercom offers added security.
What type of locks should be fitted?
The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) offers advice on the different front door lock types plus the pros and cons
- Five-lever mortice locks are commonly fitted to wooden doors and lock from both the inside and outside with a key
- Nightlatches, or Yale locks, are frequently used as secondary locks
- Deadlocks can be a deterrent as they can make it hard for thieves to get out again
- Multi-point locking systems are often found on UPVC doors. Three locking points operate simultaneously when the key turns
- Euro cylinder locks also feature on UPVC and composite doors and are a common feature of modern homes
And if you find yourself locked out of your house, the MLA also has a handy list of approved locksmiths.
Who can enter a rented home?
If a landlord asks a tradesperson or letting agent to visit the property, they must give you, as the tenant, 24 hours’ notice. You can deny them access if it’s inconvenient, but your grounds must be reasonable.
No landlord, letting agent or tradesperson should enter without your consent. Providing you’re accommodating when it comes to access requests, there’s no need for anyone but you to have a key.
What can I do to secure my home?
Burglaries do happen – our figures show they account for 14% 2 of all Aviva Home Insurance claims – and it’s more common than you think for thieves to use the front door. As well as working with your landlord to protect the property, there are several things you can do yourself.
1. Remember to lock up
You’ve talked to your landlord and now have new locks, so don’t leave your doors or windows open when you go out. Not only does it make your home vulnerable, if you have contents cover it could invalidate your policy. If you don’t already have it, consider a product like our Tenants and Renters Insurance.
2. Check your doors
There’s no point having good locks if the doors aren’t secure. Make sure they’re solid, and the frames are intact.
3. Keep keys out of sight
Keys should not be visible from outside the property. Also, never leave your spare key in an obvious place – rather than hiding it under the doormat, give it to a neighbour.
4. Consider an alarm
A burglar alarm system can be a useful back up to good physical security such as doors, windows and locks. If there isn’t already one installed at the property, it could be worth talking to your landlord. It’s also important to have proper lighting inside and out.
5. Hide your tools
If you leave out equipment like ladders, screwdrivers or wrenches, you could be giving an opportunistic burglar a helping hand. Keep them locked away in a garage or secure shed.
What should I do if my home is burgled?
Report it immediately, to your landlord and the police. Even if very little was taken, it’s important to let the police know and get a crime reference number. You’ll need this if you want to make an insurance claim.