With rental properties there is always the possibility that from time to time there may be short periods when your property stands empty. This could be simply a matter of days or weeks between past tenants moving out and new ones moving in, or it could be for a few months whilst you search for a new tenant.

No matter what the duration is that your property is vacant it is important that you make precautions to keep your property secure, therefore minimising the risks that can be associated with having an empty property.

Check to make sure doors and windows to your rental property are secure

The most common way for a burglar to gain entry to a property is through the door or the window. To make doors more secure you should consider fitting a bar and deadbolt for extra strength. A local locksmith should be able to advise you on the best ones available and what can be fitted to your door.

It is also worth thinking about the type of door you have; doors with glass panels are particularly vulnerable to entry and it may be worth replacing it if your property is going to be empty for a while. Alternatively if replacing the door is not a viable option, you can buy an invisible security film which you can stick over the glass to make it harder to break. The same security film can also be applied to ground floor windows for added security.

Many DIY shops also sell inexpensive, key-operated locks that fit most styles of window. It is advisable to fit window locks with keys to all downstairs windows and those upstairs that are easy to reach to increase security. If you have sliding patio doors prop a metal or wooden rod in the track to prevent them from sliding open if entry is forced.

Remember- if you are fitting new doors or windows make sure that they are certified to British Standards.

Don’t make it easy for anyone to gain access to your property

Check around the property to make sure nothing has been left in easy reach which could be used to break into the property, such as a ladder or any tools. This includes leaving anything in outdoor sheds, which can often easily be accessed. It may also be worth cutting back any tree branches which are near to the property and could be used to reach top floor winders or the roof.

Use outdoor security lighting with motion sensors which come on when someone approaches your house. Not only is this likely to deter a potential burglar, but your neighbours are more likely to notice if someone is moving around if the lights are activated by motion, rather than being on all the time.

It is also worth investing in a security alarm and making sure that it is clearly visible so any potential burglars are aware of the increased risk of targeting your house. Most security alarms come with window decals and signs for the outside of your house, make sure you display these and check periodically to make sure they are still visible and haven't been covered by any shrubs.

Make regular inspections of the rental property to check everything is okay

If you live near the property it is worth making regular checks to make sure everything is ok and as you left it. Alternatively, if you don't live nearby it may be worth checking to see if there is a local Neighbourhood Watch group in your area. Neighbourhood watch can be worth their weight in gold. As volunteers, members keep a close eye on the neighbourhood and report any unusual or potentially criminal activity to the local police.

There are other options available for landlords of empty commercial properties or social housing. The introduction of 'property guardians' is considered to be a natural market evolution- these individuals rent a property such as an office or warehouse at a low cost and are effectively house-sitting for the owner.

Guardians do not have the same rights and responsibilities as regular tenants and can be a great way of keeping your property secure between tenancies and deter squatters.

We hope you have found this guide useful and it helps to keep your property secure over any gaps in tenancy.