How to protect your buy-to-let investment during void periods

Simple steps that could save a fortune in the fight against theft and vandalism

All buy-to-let investment properties suffer a void period at some time. It’s the nature of the game. Here at Ezytrac, we work hard to reduce the cost of an empty property by employing strategies to retain tenants and avoid loss-making void periods. But between tenancies can be a dangerous time for buy-to-let landlords. While your property remains empty, it could be a target for squatters, burglars and vandals.

In this article, you’ll learn how you can protect your buy-to-let investment property during a void period.

Make sure your buy-to-let investment is properly maintained

Make sure the property’s garden, windows, and other external features are well maintained. By doing so, you’ll give passersby the impression that there is ‘someone at home’. Keep the lawn trimmed. Weed the garden borders and trim hedges and trees. Make sure that gutters are free of leaves in the autumn, and that the path is free of snow and ice in the winter.

Not only will these simple measures ensure the property looks lived in, but they will also increase curb appeal to any potential tenants.

Use automatic lights inside (and outside) the property

Install security lights outside your buy-to-let property – the sort that is motion activated.

Inside the home, put a couple of lights on timers, so that as night falls a light in the living room turns on. You could also set the kitchen light to come on at regular intervals (mimicking someone spending a few minutes making a cup of tea), and time the downstairs lights to turn off when a bedroom light comes on at ‘bedtime’.

The cost of a couple of hours of electric is far less than the cost of a break-in or vandalism (or both) to your property.

Visit the property, especially during a void period

Your property is more prone to attack when it is empty. Vandals and squatters are the obvious issues, but you shouldn’t forget the elements of nature, too. A regular weekly visit during a void period will provide the opportunity to check the buy-to-let for any signs of vandalism and damage caused by the elements.

A weekly check could prove cost-effective, should it detect a fence blown down, a frozen water pipe, or bats nesting in the loft.

Property checks during void periods should be made on random days and at random times. It ensures that any burglar ‘casing the joint’ becomes wary of breaking and entering. During a random inspection, all locks should be checked, and timed lights adjusted if necessary.

All mail should be moved away from the letter box or doormat – and not left in a pile that can be seen through a window. Piles of mail are a sure sign that a property is empty.

Install a security system

A security system can be an expensive outlay but could save a small fortune when compared to the cost of vandalism or theft. It could also be used as a bargaining chip when negotiating rent – how much would a tenant pay for an extra level of security in their home?

Get the neighbours to act as watchdogs

When we act for you as your investment property manager, we’ll try to connect with its neighbours. They have a vested interest in your property, too. They care about who your tenants are, and they care about the condition of your property. A vandalised property is an eyesore and drags down the neighbourhood. When vandals get away with damaging one property, they often move to those nearby to repeat their vandalism.

Asking the neighbours to be, well, neighbourly, and keep an eye on the property is a common-sense approach to keeping your property safe when it’s empty. Let them know of your plans to find a new tenant, and leave a card with your details so they can call you should they see anything suspicious.

Are you prepared for a void period?

Most vandalised or burgled buy-to-let investment properties are those owned by landlords who live miles away. They can’t visit the property regularly when it is in a void period. They haven’t built a rapport with the neighbours. They rely on tenants to keep the property and garden maintained, and when the tenants move out, it quickly becomes obvious that the property is empty.

Ezytrac’s investment property management has proved the answer to landlords up and down the country who are worried about the safety of their property during the inevitable void period. And, of course, these buy-to-let investors benefit from our exceptional menu of day-to-day property management services.

Contact one of the Ezytrac team today on+44  01522  503  717, and discover how our investment property managers work with our landlord clients to relieve the stress and pressure of everyday property management and help keep your property investment safe at all times.

Yours in effortless property management,

Brett Alegre-Wood

About the Author:

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Ezytrac. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids. Brett holds both the Level 3 Property Mark Qualifications for Property Sales and Property Lettings and Management.