Que Será, Será?

Aussies’ somewhat laissez-faire attitude towards home security is leaving many landlords and tenants exposed.

It seems the Aussie philosophy – “she’ll be right mate” – extends to our home security. Despite a break-in happening every three seconds in Australia, a recent survey has found less than half our homes have security features fitted and even fewer tenants have taken action to improve their home’s security and protect their possessions.

The survey by a home insurer found just 49 per cent of Australians use traditional security features such as screens, bars and double locks. But it seems that the older we get, the more likely we are to employ the old favourites – 40 per cent of 18-34 year-olds use these security measures while 60 per cent of over-55s do. It was also found 27 per cent use technology to protect their home, such as smart security systems and mobile apps.

While 16 per cent of homeowners have done nothing to improve home security, the figure jumps to 27 per cent of renters.

According to figures from the ABS, 2.5 per cent, or 228,300, of households were burgled during 2016-17 and 2.1 per cent, or 191,200, experienced an attempted break-in. Of the incidents where the break-in was successful, 74 per cent had property stolen, 29 per cent of victims lost personal items, and 49 per cent of the properties robbed suffered damage. Where the break-in was unsuccessful, 47 per cent were left with damaged doors or windows.

Rental properties are certainly not immune to burglary – as these claims illustrate:

Claim example 1: intruder on high
A person under the influence of drugs burst through the front door of a rental house in Upper Coomera (Qld). They started smashing up the furniture and attempted to steal the tenant’s new TV, plant and pot, bedside lamps, ornaments and even their dressing gown. While the offender was captured by police in the front garden, the TenantCover policyholder was reimbursed $548 for their damaged possessions.

Claim example 2: smash and grab
A thief smashed through the backdoor of the rental house in Cabramatta (NSW) and stole $24,060 worth of the tenant’s jewellery, iPhones, laptop, TV, sound bar, cameras, tripods, Playstation and games. The TenantCover policyholder’s losses were reimbursed.

Claim example 3: breaking without entering
The cleaner of a rental in Kempsey (NSW) drove by the house and noticed there was a broken window. They contacted the agent who called the police. Once police completed their investigation, the agent boarded up the windows to prevent further damage. The RentCoverPlatinum policyholder’s claim for $1,175, to cover the cost of making the property safe and replacing the glass window, was paid.

Claim example 4: master thief or master chef?
The owner of a rental in Cranbourne (Vic) discovered the house had been burgled and the thief had stolen the range-hood and cooktop. The RentCoverPlatinum policy made good on the $1,035 loss.

With the warmer weather settling in – which often means we flit inside and outside, leaving doors unlocked and windows open to let in the breeze – now is a great time for landlords, agents and tenants to do a home security check and make some improvements such as:

  • checking security alarm systems are working
  • making sure all door and window locks meet statutory regulations – and ensuring the right locks are installed by a professional locksmith and that they all work properly
  • ensuring that any security measures stipulated in legislation are provided at the property
  • trimming trees and bushes near windows and doors
  • installing exterior motion-sensor lights.

A survey of police detainees found guilty of committing breaking and entering offences in 2015 found that improved security (cited by 31 per cent) was the number one reason for a decrease in property crime.

For the record, the crims also listed the key mistakes people make that make it easier for them to commit a burglary:

  • 70 per cent – doors/windows left open (yet grilled windows/doors deterred 19 per cent)
    FYI: The most common method of entry was through an unlocked door (40 per cent) or window (28 per cent), breaking a door or window (35 per cent) and picking/breaking a lock (20 per cent)
  • 40 per cent – minimal security (yet sensor lights outside deterred 22.8 per cent)
  • 25 per cent – easy to enter backyards (yet gates deterred 12.3 per cent)
  • 12 per cent – detectable keys (a survey by another home insurer revealed 35 per cent regularly left spare keys outside the property, with homeowners guilty of the practice more than renters at 21 per cent versus 13 per cent)
  • 8 per cent – false security systems (yet a working alarm system deterred 49.1 per cent)
    BTW: Homeowners (21 per cent) are three times more likely than renters (7.7 per cent) to have a home security system
  • 5 per cent – environmental design (yet visibility from the road deterred 14 per cent)
  • 2 per cent – skylights (must be a few crims channelling Mission Impossible’s Tom Cruise!)

So remember to review your insurance cover to make sure the policy is up-to-date, that the sums insured are adequate, and that any special items you need to protect are covered. Talk to your RentCover or TenantCover Account Manager to make sure your policy meets your needs.