Ultimate Guide to Student Accommodation Security
Going off to University is a fun and exciting time; meeting new friends, moving out and learning new things. However, one thing you need to remember is to stay safe and make sure that all of your belongings are secure. Students are one of the most targeted groups, as they are known to have a variety of expensive gadgets, whether TVs, phones or laptops, because of this it is vital to be aware of how to keep your belongings and yourself secure.
How Can I Protect My Valuables at University?
- Check the locks when you move in
In both shared houses and halls, when you move in be sure to check that the locks are working correctly! Look out for things such as rust, cracks and stiffness in key cylinders locks; these will affect the safety of your lock and door. If you see these problems report them immediately to your landlord; if in a shared house, or to the building manager; if in student dorms.
In new build student halls, you may find that you have a key fob to gain access to both the building and your room. Although there are fewer things that can go wrong with smart locks, there can still be problems. Be sure to tell the building manager or reception of any problems you are having gaining access to you room or building.
- Invest in insurance
As stated before, student are one of the most targeted groups as it is assumed they will have a variety of gadgets, so to give that extra peace of mind content insurance is a great way to add another layer of security if your things are taken.
However, always check your insurance terms and conditions to make sure that you a fully compliant so that if you need to claim your insurance will be valid.
If you don’t want to spend the money on content insurance a cheaper option would be to list every valuable item that you own and write on them with a UV pen. This means that if your items are taken they can be identified as yours if seized by the police, and come back to you, however this is not very common.
- Always lock your doors and windows
If you are leaving the property, no matter for what length of time; always lock all windows and doors. Leaving windows and doors unlocked can provide a would-be-burglar with the perfect opportunity to enter your personal space and gain access to your belongings. By locking doors and windows it minimises any opportunities that an intruder would have. Also if you have insurance, leaving windows and doors open might invalidate your insurance meaning you might not be able to claim if anything happens!
- Take your valuables with you
A fact that burglars are very aware of is that most students leave their accommodation for long periods e.g. for Christmas, Easter and the Summer. Unoccupied houses are prime targets for would intruders as it gives them and easy in and out, with low chances of being discovered. When you leave your home away from home make sure to take any valuables with you or at the very least hide them out of sight as not to tempt any would-be-burglars.
- Check the exterior of your property
This is mainly for students in shared housing where you would be privately renting from a landlord. Living in a house will increase your risks and you need to be sure that you are secure as you can be. When you move in, one of the first things you should do is to check the exterior of the property for any weak areas and highlight these to your landlord.
How Can I Stay Safe in Student Halls?
- Be careful who you are letting in; With multiple locks to get into student halls, letting the person in behind you isn’t a good idea. We all know it’s polite to hold the door open for someone but those locks are there to keep you safe.
- Always lock your doors; you might want to leave your flat door open so you and the flat next door you are friendly with can go easily in between, but this is a bad idea. You never know what strangers might be walking around, that you have just given access to all of your valuable items.
- Report anything that seems odd; it might be someone who doesn’t look quite right, or a general uneasy situation. Either way it’s always best to report it to the reception or building manager.
How Can I Stay Safe in a Shared House?
- Get rid of any packaging; you’ve just bought a new laptop, the worst thing you can do is leave the box outside your house as it is a big flashing light to robbers saying ‘Expensive gadgets here’. Make sure to break it down and always cover it with other recycling
- Get picked up from down the street; not only do you not want the world to know that everyone is going on a night out but getting into a taxi right outside your house immediately alerts anyone looking that the house will be empty for the next few hours. This gives intruders a perfect opportunity. Getting picked up from down the street, no one will know what house has been left empty.
- Be conscious of who is entering your house; not only will you house mates be bring people in and out but your landlord could potentially want work done on the house. If you have not been told about any workmen coming to do work or someone coming to do an inspection, always consult your landlord before letting them in. If you can’t get a hold of anyone, don’t let them in; it’s better safe than sorry.
What should I do if there is a burglary?
Unfortunately there is no sure fire way in which to stop a burglar and you can take all precautions but sometimes the worst can happen. If you do find yourself in this situation here are our top things to remember:
1. Call the police immediately on 101.
999 is only for emergencies and should only be used in emergency situations, such as if the intruder is still in the property. You should always report the crime as soon as possible to the police.
If you live in halls of residence, you should also contact the building security as other people might be in danger, the intruder might still be in the building and the security of the building has been compromised.
2. Don’t touch anything
Unfortunately the area is now a crime scene, so to preserve any evidence you can’t move anything until the police get there and give you permission.
3. Make a list of everything damaged or stolen
This is so you can give a detailed list of items to the police to help any investigations and also if you are going to make a claim on any insurance policies.
4. Contact your landlord
If you live in a privately rented property you should contact your landlord to let them know of the situation and also of any damage that has occurred so that they can sent someone to secure the property
5. Take all precautions
If things such as your bank cards have been stolen ensure that you register them stolen at your bank and get them blocked. Similarly you should try and change all of your passwords to secure all of your accounts.
6. Make sure to note your Crime Reference Number
You will need this to be able to find out updates about your case and also if you are going to make any insurance claims.
Understand your rights and responsibilities as tenants
Landlords have a responsibility to maintain a safe and secure property to live in, this includes that the exterior and structure of the property is in good repair such as drains, gutters and external piping. However, tenants are responsible for the general upkeep of the property such as cutting the grass and avoiding or fixing any damage. It is always a good idea to maintain a tidy and well maintained home as it makes you a potentially lower target to intruders. Unkempt properties can give the impression of lower security in properties making it a more attractive, less risky target.
Always read your tenancy agreement to understand what is the responsibility of the landlord and what is expected of the tenants.
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