As a Landlord or property owner, it is not just standard perils such as fire, theft or flood which can impact your assets.
You also need to be prepared for a host of unforeseen threats to your property, including acts of terrorism, natural disasters or criminal activity.
Fortunately, such events are not commonplace, but the consequences can be devastating and without adequate planning, you leave yourself open to financial disaster.
Standard Landlord Insurance policies will not normally extend to cover terrorist acts and without adequate additional protection your property could be significantly at risk.
Regular Inspections, Repairs and Maintenance Can Bolster Security
One risk you should be aware of and plan for is criminal activity, including vandalism, break-ins, theft and violence. Though not all security threats can be avoided, some situations can be prevented with appropriate preparation, inspections, repairs and maintenance.
- Advise tenants to report any suspicious persons or activity in or around the property.
- Establish and follow visitor control procedures when feasible. This may include assigned parking, sign-ins for the use of public areas, escorts for tours of the property, etc.
- Survey locks, fences, exterior lights and other physical security devices to ensure that they are in place where needed and in proper operating condition. Establish a monthly inspection of your security perimeter and key protective features of your facility.
- Evaluate critical locations in your facility for proper security, including the electric, telephone and gas units, building entrances, transformers, outside storage units and computer rooms.
- Be sure each unit is equipped with appropriate locks and security features, and instruct tenants to let management know if maintenance is needed or if their key is lost or stolen.
- If your property has a security/fire alarm system, be sure it is operating properly and that key personnel know how to arm/disarm it.
- Make sure that fire suppression systems are regularly inspected and maintained. Also ensure that a sufficient number of personnel know how to activate, operate and shut them down.
- Closed-circuit television can serve as an excellent crime deterrent, and when the system is equipped with a recorder it can help solve crimes.
- Review your procedures for issuing keys and access cards. Keep a list of all tenants who have received keys, and how many were issued per unit.
- Discuss security with your local police service. They are often willing to provide information and support, which may include regular patrols through or past your properties.
- Have your local fire service conduct a pre-planned visit to your building. While there, they can identify potential hazards and plan fire suppression priorities.
While good housekeeping and awareness will highlight some criminal threats, the global threat of terrorism is much more difficult to manage and impossible to predict.
London or large city centres may be thought of as higher risk areas, however, more rural locations are increasingly being targeted by terrorists, where your property may not be the direct focus of the attack, but it could suffer significant collateral damage. To manage cover for terrorism effectively, the British Government established Pool Re in 1993 following the withdrawal of terrorism cover by reinsurance markets.
Pool Re allows insurers to provide cover for terrorist acts with premiums and losses being “reinsured” centrally.
The following tips and suggestions will help you manage the disaster threat effectively:
- Discuss terrorism and applicable natural disaster cover with your Landlord Insurance provider, ensuring that you are fully aware of the cover currently provided, and equally important, that you are comfortable with any potential gaps.
- Keep copies of property insurance policies and other critical documents in a secure location or fireproof safe.
- Log your insurers claim line numbers in your mobile phone for ease of access.
- Evaluate which disasters are most likely to occur in your area, remembering to include the possibility for terrorist activity. Be sure you are prepared for all of the risks you identify.
- Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan for each property location, logging a regular review to ensure that it is up to date. This entails preparing for anything that disruption in essential systems, infrastructure or building functions.
- Have telephone call lists available (include mobile phone) for all tenants, your letting agent and any staff or sub-contractors who may visit your property.
- Establish a system to communicate with tenants in the event of a disaster or other emergency situation. Educate tenants about this system and other disaster response plans that they should be aware of, including evacuation or building lock-down procedures.
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