Ultimate Guide to Student Accommodation Security
As one of the most targeted groups, students can be at risk of theft and burglary. Our guide below looks at what you can do to reduce risk and keep your property safe!
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.
Use the guide below to help make sure that your university experience is a good one! We have even split it into the sections below so that you can easily find all the information that you need!
Protecting Your Valuables
The student generation are known for their array of gadgets and tech, which unfortunately makes them prime targets for anyone looking to score expensive gizmos. So, the question remains, how can I protect my valuables at university?
How Can I Protect My Valuables at University?
1. Check the locks when you move in
In both student houses and university accommodation, 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 as 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 halls of residence.
In new build university accommodation, 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.
2. Invest in Insurance
As stated before, students 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. Contents insurance can cover everything from your phone, laptop, bike and even your clothes from fire, theft, and accidents. Money Super Market argue that with large halls of residence and the amount of intermingling that students, especially first years, will do in the first few months of university it is important that you take the precautions to protect your valuables.
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. Some student policies will have clauses such as you must have your door locked at all times, or that you are not covered outside of term time (like on Christmas break). Taking the time to read the terms and conditions of your policy will make things easier for you in the future should you need to make a claim.
We also suggest making a list of all of your valuables and registering them with Immobilise. Immobilise are a free registering service that help to reduce crime and help identify any recovered stolen property in the hopes of returning stolen items with their owner. Although this doesn’t guarantee that any stolen property will be returned, it helps to register items as yours as it will help with making a insurance claim.
If you don’t want to spend the money on extensive content insurance, a more budget friendly option would be to write on all your valuables with a UV pen. This means that if your items are taken, they can be identified under blacklight as yours if seized by the police and come back to you. However this is not very common.
3. 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!
4. Take your Valuables with You
A fact that burglars are very aware of is that most students leave their university accommodation for long periods, for example at Christmas, Easter, and the Summer. Unoccupied houses are prime targets for would intruders as it gives them an 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.
5. 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.
Personal Security Gadgets
There are products that you can buy to make sure that whilst you are in student accommodation or a student house, that both you and your valuables are safe. In older student accommodation the security on the doors can be lower, and sometimes electronic locks can make you feel unsafe, this is why we suggest investing in some very budget friendly products that will not only help keep you safe but will give you peace of mind.
Portable Travel Door Lock
This product is well known for its security purposes and has recently gone viral. This portable travel lock fits into the door latch and is secured by a red handle that locks into place, this immobilises the door lock so that the door can’t be forced open. This extra level of security will help you to feel safer as you settle into a new room and place and stops you from worrying about someone forcing entry into your room.
Helix Personal Locking Safe
If you feel that you need a safe place to keep your valuables, such as your passport or jewellery, this inexpensive locking safe is a budget friendly solution to add a bit of security within your university accommodation.
Living in Student Accommodation
University halls of residence are often the first choice for first year university students. They are a great way to make new friends and experience living away from home. With this being said, most of the time you don’t know who you are going to be sharing a flat with so it’s always good to remain on the cautious side as you begin to make new friends. In this section we discuss saying safe in university accommodation.
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. Usually there will be reception staff in the reception during the day and at night they will usually have security guards, if you ever feel cautious of another person you should always report it.
Can University Security Enter Your Flat?
As a paying tenant, no one can enter your flat or room without giving at least 24 hours’ notice, however they can enter in the case of an emergency. An emergency can consist of a fire, flood, gas leak or where anyone may be in danger.
Essentially as a ‘Landlord’ they have the right to request access to the property, but they are legally required to give notice before entering.
Living in a Student House
During the second and third year of university, most people will move into a student house with the friends that they had made in first year. So, as you settle into your new home, make sure you read this section so that you can stay safe in your student house.
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.
Maintaining Your Student House
When we talk about student security, this not only covers securing your valuables but also making sure that your living environment is not putting your health at risk either. Student houses tend to be older and are often conversions, leaving them on average not well maintained. This can lead to problems that can affect your health.
Problems such as Mould are common in student houses and can cause serious health issues if left unchecked. Make sure that your student house is well ventilated and try to avoid drying clothes inside the house.
If the mould is not caused by any of your actions but rather through a problem with the building, you should take pictures of the affected areas and send it to the Landlord or Agent and ask them to provide a solution as it may fall under their responsibility.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a serious risk as it is almost impossible to do anything about it until it’s too late. It has no smell or taste so impractically impossible to detect.
The law now requires that every landlord must provide a carbon monoxide alarm or face a of £5,000 per property, so you should always check that you have one and if you don’t, make sure you ask for one.
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 the responsibility of the landlord is and what is expected of the tenants.
Check out some of your University Safety guides:
Student Crime Statistics**
- 8% of students in private accommodation experienced domestic burglary.
- 4% of students in university accommodation experienced domestic burglary.
- The most common crimes experienced by students are criminal damage (25%), theft (24%) and burglary (22%).
- In around 25% of burglaries are facilitated by an open door or window.
*Please note this guide only serves to provide advice and should not be the basis for legal action.
** According to https://www.staffsunion.com/advice/otheradvice/crime/thefacts/