If you rent your properties to students or families with children, the chances are that they will be enjoying a summer break. Students may go home or work abroad during the summer whilst families with school-aged children are also more likely to book their breaks in August.
If this is the case, it is wise to take steps to make sure that your property is secure while it is empty. If they are away for some time, for example many students will be absent until they return to university in October, you will need to check with your insurance provider to determine whether they need to be informed. Otherwise the policy could be invalidated if you need to make a claim.
It is also worth checking the property more often or getting the property management company to visit in order to ensure that it does not look empty. Your tenants should readily give permission for you to keep an eye on the property and for you to enter it during their absence. This also means that you can pick up on any small maintenance problems, such as a leak.
Investing in timers so that internal lights go on and off at certain times to make the house look lived in is one common approach. Also make sure that the post is not visible, otherwise potential wrong-doers can see that it has not been picked up for a while. It should be possible for your tenants to agree for someone to go around and collect the mail or free newspapers to put them out of sight.
Ask tenants to keep expensive valuables such as iPads, mobile phones, games consoles and jewellery away from the windows so they are not going to tempt an opportunist thief. Net curtains or blinds which are not fully open can also stop criminals peeking in to see if there is anything worth stealing.
An alarm system could also be a wise investment; in many cases the box alone is enough to deter would-be burglars. External security lights on timers or lights which switch on when they detect movement are also good deterrents. The most important thing is to make sure that tenants actually lock all doors and windows as well as set the alarm before they leave.
Re-read your tenancy agreement to make sure that it insists that tenants know their responsibilities regarding securing and safeguarding the house while they are away.