Our top 10 security recommendations
1. Securing all access points
It may sound obvious, but it is important to ensure all access points into your unoccupied property are secured e.g. your windows, doors, patio doors and roof windows, and the locks all confirm to British Standards and comply with your insurance policy. If your locks do not comply with your insurance policy, any claims may be invalid. If your property is likely to remain unoccupied for an extended period of time such as months or even years or the property is missing windows and doors, then consider hiring professionals to fit screening boards to block all access points.
2. Investing in CCTV and security systems
If you’re planning on leaving your property unoccupied for a long weekend, or for a few months, a security and CCTV system is always a good investment. Simple security systems can simply alert you when movement is detected in the property once the alarm has been set and if the main access points have been breached. While more advanced security systems can alert owners of movement from all points of all access e.g. all windows and doors can have individual sensors to detect intruders.
CCTV systems should be placed around the access points of your home such as the front and back doors and down your driveway, while having your blind-spots covered with a camera will help capture any potential thieves trying to sneak in.
Most security and CCTV systems can be linked to multiple devices such as your mobile phone, allowing users to be notified in real time if the alarm has been triggered. CCTV cameras can also be monitored remotely or from abroad and systems can be set and re-set from most devices or phones.
This adds another layer of protection and comfort for homeowners knowing all eyes can be on their unoccupied property, anytime, anywhere.
3. Property maintenance
If your property has been left unoccupied for a short period of time, then regularly maintaining your front and backyard is probably not essential. However, once a property is left unoccupied for weeks or months at a time, it can start to signal to potential vandals that your property is a prime target. Basic property maintenance such as keeping the lawns mowed, trimming hedges and trees, and keeping the garden and flower beds tidy will keep the property looking lived in and well presented. A property that looks lived in and well maintained is a great way to deter potential thieves.
4. Turning off your utilities
When it comes to your gas, electric and water, a decision needs to be made. If your property is likely to be unoccupied for a long period of time, then either keep the gas or electric running so the heating can tick over on a low temperature to help prevent cracked pipes. Or, turn all your utilities off to help prevent any possible leaks that could cause further damage to the property.
5. Secure your outbuildings
If your unoccupied property has a little garden shed, a garage or larger outbuilding on the premises, be sure to securely lock all access points into the building, using British Standard locks that also comply with your insurance policy. You may think locking up your main building is enough, but an unlocked outbuilding or shed is just as tempting to thieves and squatters and could encourage them to come back and attempt to break into your unoccupied property.
6. Keeping it bright
Light is a great deterrent against vandals and thieves as it leaves them with no place to hide. Installing a sensor light or timed light near points of access, facing your driveway or in blind spots will help keep these places light when triggered by movement.
7. Regular inspections
If possible, visit your unoccupied property in person to inspect the property and the grounds to ensure nothing untoward has occurred. Make sure your visits are regular but not on the same day at the same time, as once potential vandals learn of your routine, they could try and break-in when they know you won’t be visiting. Another reason to inspect your property regularly is to ensure the property and grounds are well kept, tidy and there is no damage brought on by leaks, roof damage, squatters, damp, mould or even fallen trees or subsidence. Catching any potential issue early could make a world of difference when having to pay for repairs.
8. Inform your neighbours
Whether you know your neighbours or not, it’s always a good idea to inform them that your property will be unoccupied. For short term unoccupancies like a holiday or long-weekend, you can always ask your neighbour, a family member or friend that lives close by to check-up on your home and keep it looking occupied by opening and closing blinds or curtains, collecting your mail and taking out and bringing in your bins. If your property is likely to be unoccupied for an extended period, explaining the situation to your neighbours could be of great benefit to you. Your neighbours may keep an eye on your property and could notice any unwanted activity at your property and inform you as soon as possible.
9. Inform the local police and your Neighbourhood Watch
Taking it a step further, would be informing your local policy constabulary or station as well as your local Neighbourhood Watch (if you have one). Of course, this would only be necessary if your property is likely to be unoccupied for weeks or months at a time and is not essential if you are just on holiday. Keeping the authorities informed, will benefit both parties as now the police and Neighbourhood Watch will be aware of your unoccupied property and if any unwanted activity does occur on the premises, they will know to either contact you or take further action.
10. Invest in unoccupied property insurance
Most insurance policies may only cover an unoccupied property for up to 30 or 60 days. If your property is likely to be unoccupied for an extended period of time, then contact your insurance provider and double check what exactly you are covered for and how long.