Security precautions for unoccupied property

Security you should consider to protect your empty property

Security of an empty property is often a worry for a landlord and some sensible risk management precautions can help to reduce the risk of unwanted persons entering your property. There are many aspects to building security and maintenance for for your empty property, some start even before you enter the front door.

Grounds / Maintenance

It is important that the property looks occupied from the roadside. So, keep the garden tended, the grass mown short and any regularly remove rubbish that may accumulate in the garden. You need to give the appearance that the property is in constant use so maintain it in the way you would look after your own home. It is also a condition of many insurance policies that the property is maintained and in good order so it is good practice to carry out regular maintenance visits.

Get to know your neighbours

Talk to the locals, make friends. If you know a few people in the immediate area then they will far more likely be prepared to keep a watchful eye on your property when you are not there. If your property is alarmed then the neighbours will also be the first people who will be aware of the activation so pass them your phone number and ask them to give you a call if they see or hear anything which causes them concern.

Physical security

We all know that if somebody wants to break in, there is little you can do about it – we’ve heard that one countless times before! But, that is no excuse for not making an effort to make it harder for those with harmful intentions. Remember, the more difficult you make it for the intruder, the more likely they will target another property. Not the best for your neighbours, but they are living in their property – yours is the empty one and far more vulnerable to attack.

Windows – Your choice of locks will depend on whether you have timber, upvc or crittal style window frames. There is nearly always a suitable lock to fit your windows. It is important that you fit good quality key operated window locks to all ground floor and accessible upper floor windows. They need to be fitted well with the correct type of screws and fitted with the manufacturers recommendations and you need to make sure you have the correct skills if you are fitting them yourself. If in doubt, seek the services of a competent local locksmith!

Buy good quality locks, one of the best known manufacturers was Chubb and their domestic range of locks are now being sold under the name of Union and Yale which also have a reputation for selling good quality products. It is worth investing in good quality locks from these leading manufacturers. It can be tempting to buy other products which may sometimes be a lot cheaper but it isn’t worth it.

Door locks – Again, your choice of locks depends on whether you have timber, upvc or metal window frames. It is recommended that you buy good quality locks from the ranges of the manufacturer suggested above. It is worth noting that there are BS Kite marked locks which your insurer may require as a condition of the policy. The commonly requested standard is BS3621 – NOT to be confused with BS2621.

Padlocks – I cannot count how many times I have seen cheap padlocks securing property. Some folk will go the one of the local DIY shops, spend £20.00 and think they have got a decent padlock!

A good quality padlock can easily cost upwards of £80.00 so don’t be fooled in thinking you can get away with it cheap, you get what you pay for!

Intruder alarms

Installation of an intruder alarm system is often a worthwhile investment into any property, regardless of whether or not it is empty or in normal occupation. Intruder alarms are particularly worthwhile if are going to retain the property rather than sell it as you will enjoy full use of it for the duration the property is owned. There are several types of intruder alarm systems available starting from a dummy box on the outside of your property, to DIY installation kit, to a fully blown NSI approved RedCare / GSM system with sequential verification. It is worth discussing your requirements with your local NSI approved installer so you can make an informed choice about the type of alarm you need and the methods of signalling that most suit you.

Bear in mind that there is no point in having an intruder alarm unless there is somebody available who can react to it. Signalling is often included with an intruder alarm package and can be either the GSM network, via a land line telephone or by text message. You are unlikely to have a discount from your unoccupied buildings insurance policy as a result of installing an alarm system, if you are considering installing an alarm you should do so for reasons of peace of mind.


If you don’t tell your insurer that the property is empty, at best, the cover under your policy may be restricted. At worst, it might be invalidated completely, leaving you totally uninsured. Many insurers will refuse to provide further cover, some may continue but with severe restrictions. Empty property insurance is available from a limited number of UK insurers. Some claim to offer unoccupied property insurance but do not include cover such as burst pipes, escape of water, theft, burglary damage or malicious damage.


Unoccupied buildings are like a magnet for criminals and youngsters hell bent on causing mayhem in your property. If they gain access to your empty property, significant damage can occur within a very short space of time. Remove all valuables from your empty property and make sure that all security that is present in the property is used with the keys removed from the locks. Visit regularly, switch off any unused services at the mains which are not being used to heat or secure the unoccupied properties.

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