Keeping properties nice and secure is of course paramount; after all we live in a day-and-age when things can get easily broken into and damaged. Gone are the days of people being able to leave their property completely open and unlocked - well at least in most of cases.
Sussing out the best way to secure a property can be a minefield and can go beyond just installing a few CCTV cameras. This is where good property-management experience comes in to help steer through the issues and come up with a realistic security provision and procedures to not only keep well secure, but make workable with everyone so that authorised people can of course still actually use the property.
So here are some of the main issues to consider. This assumes a more complicated commercial or residential property with numerous occupiers, although the majority of issues can apply anywhere.
This is also assuming some of the mainstream facilities such as CCTV cameras and form of access control system being used, but again there can be all other kinds of other variations to consider.
So here goes; fourteen security-issues to consider with your property interest. Whatever interest you have, whether an occupier wanting to see action, an owner desperate to have an answer to curb insurance claims, or a property manager stuck in the middle.
1. Getting Procedures and Communication Sorted
This is key, and should not be just an off-the-shelf standard procedure, but one that has been thought through and applied to the actual property and situation at hand. Then everyone can know what’s important and how it all relates to each other.
And don’t forget other related things like a GDPR-complaint way of managing data, and sufficient warning zones on site as well.
2. The Right CCTV Coverage and Set-Up
CCTV cameras are not actually that successful with in stopping crime. Okay, they can deter some people away by being there, but they won’t stop people gaining entry.
However, they can help record an incident more reactively, and help identify who the culprit was and liaise with other authorities like the police and security companies.
Therefore, two words of warning here;. fFirstly, that you need to get all the right signage and procedures in place in tandem with GDPR and data-protection needslegislation, right down to the right procedures for people requesting data afterwards.
And secondly, plan carefully what will work for you. Ideally this probably does need to be a singing and dancing onesystem, although in the meantime some simple on-site recording cameras or even dummy ones may do the trick for simply warning people and givtaking basic coverage.
3. The Best Access Control
Access control systems can sound grand, however they’re basically a more sophisticated way of linking methods of gaining entry to a property.
So rather than, say, just a door lock where everyone has a key, it can have a form of digital lock that is activated by say a fob or code, for example (and may well still have an override key anyway). And these can then be connected to other external and internal doors as well, so you can manage people gaining access throughout the whole property.
Taking a step further, you can then set -up only certain people to have access to certain areas, and with a connection off-site you can control and manage away from the property.
The bad news is that they are costly and complicated to have, but if you are in that situation then certainly worth careful planning and upgrade options.
4. A Keyholder at Hand
This is actually a separate service that can or can’t form be part-and-parcel of any security system; that’s the person who actually turns up on site to check a building with all the right access rights to do so.
In simple terms it might be the property manager or owner themselves who need to go to site, but in more complex ones properties where multiple occupiers and emergency out-of-hours cover is required, you may need to appoint a local keyholding service and a man-in-a-van to do the trick.
5. Getting Things Monitored
This is a service that receives an alert of trouble on site, maybe an alarm going off, or CCTV coverage being triggered.
This of course assumes a connection there anyway, and may well take some different form of call centre service to be watching and responding to this 24/7.
Just watch the basics, and that they’re on the ball with then contacting all the right people afterwards.
6. The Right Connection
All this talk of off-site monitoring and keyholder or contractor service, assumes of course they first hear about the issue. Well, with today’s technology with phone, internet and GPS systems this is all easy to set -up, and correctly linked to all the right providers.
However the trick is getting all this lined up in reality, particularly at the early set-up stage. So even a simple BT line can take ages to install, arrange an account for, and then ensure all the correct kit and broadband upgrade is set up okay.
7. Adding Extra Services
Although securing the property is the focus, check if this can help link and control other things on site at the same time -; why not, if the infrastructure is there now anyway.
Two classic examples are lift-lines and fire-alarms, and although they may well require different connection lines it will often be easier to arrange all at the same time anyway, and they can probably share the same monitoring service afterwards.
8. Changing Access Codes and Details
A simple tip here is to keep any access codes for doors etcetc. always fresh and regularly changed, just to stop any former interests from still gaining access.
You just need to clarify what situations these include, for example, whether every three months by routine or when requested to in an emergency.
Also, it may be worth having different codes for different groups of occupiers and people, so that if one needs changing all the others can in actual fact stay the same.
9. Back-up Key Cover
Really simple, but make sure keys are kept in the right place in the right way with the best sign-out procedures.
This may mean a code-system to identify them rather than an actual address being written on the tabs in case they get in the wrong hands, and being in the right off-site office or place for all the important and emergency-access people to get hold of.
It may also be worth having a spare one actually on site in a hidden digi-box somewhere, with authorised contractors and people knowing this code and how to access.
10. Being Ready for Power-Down
Hopefully this will never happen, but with whatever security kit you have in, you may need to have a back-up procedure in place in the event offor if the electricity failings.
This is may be from a fire, general local power loss, or even terrorist attacks. Hopefully important kit will have a battery-back up for a certain time period, but check what this is and whether essential security measures like exit/entry doors are kept locked (possibly not in order to ensure safe exit of people from the building).
11. Keeping Up Patrols
Even with the right fancy technology in place, you may still require an actual person looking around the premises to check that everything’s okay.
Certainly this is often the default answer in emergency situations where you can’t get other measures in place, for example sudden traveller invasion, but also can still be effective as a very visual sign to others that serious measures are in place.
Just watch the high -cost, and practicalities such as welfare facilities on site and what exact areas, checks, and reporting is needed.
12. Remembering Insurance Cover
A small point but ever so important – check what the building insurers are requiring in terms of a secure building, particularly with more risky situations like vacant properties and high-value users like a jewellers.
And when you do get the basic gist, make sure the specification of any actual kit is in line with their requirements.
13. Understanding Areas of Liability
This is actually one of the first things to look into, and that i’s what extras need covering and who’s actually responsible for them.
In most cases this is straight forward., Hhowever, watch out for the overlapping situationones, for example when a occupier decides to install additional CCTV cameras to cover the outside areas which technically are the direct responsibility of the ultimate landlord or freeholder; any occupier then misusing data in these areas can bring problems to the ultimate person responsible for these.
Once you do know who this is, then check who’s picking up the bill for all these security measures and whether this is permitted. So although a landlord may be dealing with for communal areas, a service-charge may mean tenants end up paying towards this.
14. Getting Fob-Access Sorted
Fobs are a pain to manage, but often very popular with occupiers and enable good tracking.
A better alternative from this perspective is a digi-code system where new numbers can be easily issued (and re-issued) to everyone without having to physically have a piece of plastic.
When you do have them, then the two golden rules are firstly to try and get them easily trackable so that former users can always be easily de-activated and terminated. All it takes is an unhappy employee of a business or angry resident for immediate access to be blocked just for that one fob.
And secondly, arrange a simple and cost-effective way to manage these being issued and re-issued. It sounds so simple, but if you’re not careful you’ll get involved in issuing these with people, making sure they’re pre-programmed, arranging collection and issue, and covering basic admin and install costs.
Getting the Right Security Solution
Sorting the security at a property can involvebe more than what you first think, so try and balance full security from unwanted people there with still allowing easy-access for those who do need to use and leave in an emergency through, say, fire-escape procedures.
It’s easy to get sucked into all the techie detail – what kit to install, and whatever formal GDPR-compliant procedures to ping out to everyone.
But for those managing property interests, take a step back - , wWhether you’re an occupying tenant or owning landlord wanting to experience greater security, or a property manager trying to balance the right solution.
Take a check on what you’re tying to achieve, and go through these above issues.
Working alongside others like a good Risk Assessor or specialist-contractor can soon help you see the wood for the trees and the right solution for your situation.
Need More Help?
Claim your FREE Property Management Pack here – including a 15-point Property Deal Cheat Sheet, and Introduction & Chapter from our amazon-best-seller book, the Property Management Guide.