How to secure your overseas property
When you own a holiday home abroad, one thing that could play on your mind when you’re back in the UK is just how secure your overseas property is. If there is not someone there to keep an eye on your holiday home, especially remote villas or rural retreats, this can potentially be a prime target for burglars, squatters. There are various ways of potentially minimising the risk of any serious damage. Here’s a quick guide to what risks your holiday home could face, and ways that can help make sure your property is secure.
What properties are the prime targets for burglars and squatters?
Unoccupied properties, potentially in remote locations or isolated rural spots, can be a burglar’s dream. If they’re easily accessible from a main road, even if the road is at the end of a track, it could make it easy for an intruder to get in and out without attracting attention.
City properties can also be a target for thieves. However, as these are sometimes more often apartment complexes, it can be more difficult for a burglar to access without attracting attention from your neighbours.
In Spain, another issue that property owners could have to contend with are squatters, or ‘Okupas’. Because of the laws in Spain, once squatters have taken up residence, it can be difficult to have them removed. Easily accessible villas can be the biggest target for Okupas. For more information on this particular problem, read our article ‘Unwelcome guests – How to minimise the risk of squatters entering your holiday home.’
While a burglary can be the worst-case scenario for many holiday home owners, damage to your property is also a potential factor. Squatters or Spanish Okupas can cause considerable damage when they move in, while burglars could break doors, windows, or gates as they try to get into your property. However, other problems can also arise, such as water leaks. If your plumbing in your holiday home goes wrong, the problem may not be discovered for days, weeks, or even months. By then it could be too late – the damage may have been done.
Prevention is better than cure…
The question is, what can you do to minimise these potential problems? The answer fortunately, is that there are various options.
Window, gate and door locks
The most obvious way to potentially stop burglars or squatters is to secure the property as tightly as possible. The first point of entry can often be the property’s gate. Having a heavy-duty lock (rather than a padlock and chain, which can be easily cut through with a cordless angle grinder) can sometimes make the property less appealing for opportunist thieves. Beyond this entry point, you could consider having locks on the doors and windows. In some areas of France, Spain and other countries, window shutters can be common. If your property has shutters, you can make sure that they are closed and locked securely when you’re away.
Ask a neighbour, family member or friend to make regular check ins
If you can’t be there all the time then you could ask a neighbour to keep an eye on the property. If a burglar or squatter is watching the property to see if it’s occupied or not, then regular activity (such as a neighbour dropping in to make sure everything is secure) can give them pause for thought and perhaps encourage them to move on.
If there are no close neighbours then it may be worth getting in touch with a local property management service and ask them to make regular checks. It could also mean that a leaking pipe is discovered much sooner and is dealt with quickly to prevent property damage.
Alarms, security cameras and security lighting
Some of the most effective deterrents for burglars can be alarms, security cameras and security lighting. Fitting alarms and security cameras can sometimes also bring down the cost of your holiday home insurance. Security lighting that’s attached to motion detectors can also alert neighbours to the fact that an intruder may be on the property, so that the local police can be called.
Limited possessions in the unoccupied property
If your property is going to be empty for any considerable length of time, it is worth considering that valuables are removed to a safe and secure storage facility. That can include; furniture and electrical goods such as TVs and entertainment systems. This can make a property less attractive to burglars and squatters, and can reduces the chance of claiming on an insurance policy.
How Intasure can help
Our agents understand the complexities of overseas property ownership and how the laws in various countries around Europe and beyond can affect the decisions you make when it comes to property security.
If you’d like to know more about our holiday home insurance contact us today.
*The opinions and views expressed in the above articles are those of the author only and are for guidance purposes only. The authors disclaim any liability for reliance upon those opinions and would encourage readers to rely upon more than one source before making a decision based on the information.