If you’re privileged enough to have a second home you’ll appreciate how much of a positive effect it can have on your lifestyle, and what a fabulous resource it is to have when you’re deserving of a little relaxation. But in the current financial climate, if you’ve managed to keep hold of a holiday property, you’re probably acutely aware that security is becoming an even greater issue. Unoccupied homes are prone to unwanted visits from thieves and burglars, and keeping your building secure will mean that you’re able to enjoy it for years to come.
Second home security requires a lot of the same common sense and good practice that ‘first home’ security involves. This means:
- Keeping all windows, doors, side-gates and other access points closed and locked.
- Keeping all keys to these access points stored away from their locks (Don’t leave keys in the lock or on a nearby window-sill!)
- Keeping all tools stored away (You wouldn’t leave a crowbar next to a dodgy window, so don’t leave a garden spade propped up against your door either!)
- Ensuring that outhouses and sheds are properly secured so that such tools cannot be easily removed and used upon the house.
- It’s probably worth changing the keys on any new property you move in to, doubly so for a second home.
- Don’t advertise the fact that you come and go: there’s no need to tell the entire of the local bar that you’re ‘not from around here’, even if that may be obvious from your accent or competency with local language (after all, you could still live there, you might just not be a regular). Without being paranoid, you never know who is listening.
The effectiveness of security features may depend on where your holiday home is situated. Alarm systems can in themselves be a deterrent, but if there isn’t actually anyone around to hear the alarm, you may as well fit a plastic box that has the appearance of an alarm system.
- If you do have neighbours, you should definitely befriend them and encourage them to keep an eye out.
- A good relationship and arrangement may even make it possible to have some comforts in your home that often get overlooked (e.g. a well-looked after garden), as well as simply having someone you get on with in an area you’re supposed to enjoy visiting!
- If you are in a remote location, timed lights may make your house look more lived in, but short of somehow fully automating your home, you’ll probably not be able to make it stand up to closer scrutiny.
- In remote locations, shutters on windows and doors can make your home away from home more or less impenetrable. Finding a system that doesn’t compromise the homelyness of that place is perhaps slightly more challenging.
Preparing For The Worst
A high degree of burglary and theft is opportunistic – security measures will deter these criminals and you will be fine. But there will always be a number of meticulously planned crimes on well protected but unoccupied homes, and sometimes, luck won’t be on your side. Things to consider:
- Regular home insurance does not cover buildings that are rarely occupied. You will specifically need Holiday home insurance
- Some Holiday home insurance policies require that the property is visited weekly but never occupied for more than 30 days in a year. You may need to shop around for a flexible policy.
- Try to avoid leaving expensive items in your holiday home. Computers are probably an unnecessary luxury when you could have a laptop. Settle for a less desirable television and Hi-Fi (but make sure you’re still comfortable in the place!)