How to feel safe when renting in London
When searching for a new property to rent, house hunters understandably tend to focus on the most obvious elements such as the location, the size, and the total cost of rental payments. However, factors contributing to the safety of the property which will protect the tenants from threats both outside and within tend to be ignored until its too late. In this article we take a look at some of the key things that can be done to protect your home from threats such as theft and fire, most of which are budget-friendly and easily installed while also making a big difference to your security.
Meanwhile if you’re still searching for somewhere, remember take notes about safety aspects including locks on windows and doors, feeble garden fences and any burglar alarms while viewing the property. It’s also important to ask your landlord what safety features, such as carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms, have been fitted in the property.
Know your rights
It’s hugely important to read up on your rights when it comes to the landlord’s responsibilities for creating a safe and secure rental property. As well as being responsible for repairs and maintaining a recent standard, all gas and electrical systems and appliances must be safe and verified and all provided furniture must be fire resistant.
Be aware of the location
When deciding on an area to live in, it’s a good idea to read up on police crime statistics and research general opinions on the safety of your chosen spot. Once you begin to house hunt, pay attention to any potentially unsafe elements of the location, such as backing on to a dark alleyway or being a long, poorly-lit walk from any public transport facilities. If you have a child or a pet, it’s key to also be aware of how much traffic there is on the nearest road, and if this could potentially be dangerous.
Improve the locks
Check how sturdy the locks are on the doors and windows of your property, and ask the landlord to improve them if necessary. Unfortunately, landlords aren’t obliged to make the property more secure beyond the minimum requirements, so if they don’t agree to improve the fittings you can have more locks or an additional chain added to doors and windows at your own cost. Discuss any potential changes with your landlord first and get their agreement in writing in case of any future disputes.
Add a burglar alarm
If you would feel more secure with a burglar alarm, or live in an area with a high level of home break-ins, ask your landlord if they would be willing to fit an alarm system. If they are unwilling, there are various alarm systems available that can be added and removed without affecting the property so it may be best to purchase one of those. Remember that If the landlord does agree to installing an alarm, they are then also responsible for any maintenance and upkeep of the alarm.
Take out home insurance
Despite all the preventative features you may put in place, it is still possible for the worst case scenario to occur - whether that is a burglary, a flood, or a fire. For peace of mind in this situation, take out a solid home insurance policy to protect your valuables, and be truthful about the state of the security in your home.
Put timers on lights
Invest in a few cheap light timers for when you go on holiday to fix to the plugs of any lamps which are visible from the outside of the house. Set these to go on at times when the lights would normally be on, such as in the evening, and it will act as a good deterrent to anyone scoping out the neighbourhood for empty properties.
Install a safe
For particularly valuable items, it might be worth investing in a small safe where you can keep jewelery, cash, passports and other items in case of burglary. Both electrical and key-and-lock types can be bought with varying levels of security, and remember to bolt it down (ideally to a concrete floor) or you’ll find that someone could easily just carry it away!
Keep quiet on social media
As much as you want to post those jealousy-inducing beach photographs from your holiday, it’s best to wait until you get home before showing off on social media. Despite improved privacy settings it’s still very easy for people to see what you are posting, so if you have a habit of mentioning when you go on holiday or have left the house, you’re making yourself vulnerable to being burgled.
Get a dog
While you should be no means get a pet if you are unable to look after it, or if your landlord doesn’t allow it (for more details on keeping pets in rental properties, see here), having a dog is a huge deterrent to potential burglars, due to their loud barks alerting neighbours and the threat of being bitten. Even if you haven’t got a four-legged friend, it might be worth putting up a ‘Beware Of The Dog’ sign if you have a back gate - you never know when it might deter someone who was considering taking the risk.
Add outdoor lighting
For those with outdoor space, consider adding some motion-triggered lights which use infrared detection to come on when someone moves in the space at night. Put them high enough up so that they can’t be disabled, and you’ll significantly reduce the risk of someone trying to access your home via the garden or patio.
Test the smoke alarm
It’s all very well knowing that you’ve got a smoke alarm fitted, but very few people are aware that they need to be tested once a week to keep them in good working order, and have their batteries changed once a year if they aren’t of the ten-year alarm variety. If you haven’t already got one they are very cheap, can be bought from most hardware stores, and are easily installed. Statistics suggest that a house fire is twice as likely to be fatal without a smoke alarm, so there’s absolutely no reason not to have at least one fitted.
Main image credit: Mark Fischer