Security in a rented property can be a confusing issue, with responsibilities for the home held to varying degrees by the landlord or letting agent, and the tenant.
As experts in security the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) aims to minimise confusion surrounding the subject and provide hands-on advice to ensure a property is safe and properly maintained.
In any rental property, a landlord or letting agent has a responsibility to ensure the safety of their tenants is up to scratch while tenants should act responsibly to minimise risk.
For landlords this includes ensuring clear and suitable emergency exits are fitted and they are appropriate to the size and number of occupants within a building. This is particularly paramount in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) which are properties shared by three or more tenants who are not part of the same family.
HMO regulation was developed to ensure property is managed properly and it meets certain safety standards. Although such standards are a legal requirement in HMO properties, a lot of the advice given can be applied to those that fall outside of the regulations as they do provide useful general security advice that can be applied to most homes.
HMO considers a host of elements including the need for: self closer fire doors fitted to all bedrooms, protected escape routes for individually let bedrooms and self contained flats, multiple escape routes (dependent on the size of a property), maximum emergency travel distances and locks that open from the inside without the use of a key (thumb turn locks).
Fire extinguishers and blankets may also be required while emergency exit signs should be fitted accordingly and furniture has to contain fire-resistant filling and covers.
Such tips can be applied to most homes so even if a property doesn’t legally have to meet these measures it’s worth considering if you would like to install them or asking you landlord to do so. For landlords protecting a property is in their best interest for retaining tenants and therefore income, while tenants will appreciate a thoughtful landlord and feeling safe in their home.
Small steps like producing a security pack for your tenants can go a long way towards improving security and ensuring tenants know what they are responsible for. This can include tips such as not blocking main exit routes with furniture, securing keys away from sight, developing an emergency escape plan and not using potentially dangerous equipment such as portable gas or liquid heaters.
Some of the tips may sound obvious to some but suggestions such as moving keys out of view can go a long way to stopping opportunist burglars and we must remember that for those living away from home perhaps for the first time these tips aren’t always so obvious.
Landlords and tenants may find that fitting door chains, bars/grilles and alarms whilst adding fencing and security lighting to the gardens will greatly help improve the security of a property and regularly changing the alarm codes is good practice
You might also want to carry out a security review with a trained professional such as a member of a trade association such as the MLA – they will recommend where security measures should be taken and will make long-term suggestions which you can pass onto your tenants.
For advice on HMO policies it’s best to speak to your Local Authority and your Fire Authority – in accordance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – who will compile a report and schedule of works to be carried out on the property to bring it in line with HMO policies. In addition, professional security experts such as MLA licensed locksmiths will be able to advise on suitable locks and fittings such as door closes.
For more information and to find the details for your nearest vetted, inspected and qualified locksmith visit the find a locksmith section of the site or phone 0800 783 1498.