It is widely agreed that in London, basement flats can prove to be excellent value for money and are considered a great way to gain access to a city location, with a slightly reduced price tag in comparison to ‘above ground’ accommodation.

Most basement flats in London are to be found within converted town houses, and generally have their own entrances, which is another great pull as shared access is often considered off-putting. However, with entrances below street level and a lack of light leading to an inclination to install doors that are half or three-quarters glazed, various security issues can arise. In this post we look at some of the most common of these security issues, with suggestions on how to combat them.

Issue #1: Lack of Light

Living below street level will of course mean there is a lack of light. If you’ve moved into a basement flat where former residents have attempted to combat this issue by installing doors that are partly glazed or there are French doors present, check the locks meet British Standards. You may also wish to protect the glazing with a retractable grille.

As we have said in a previous post, entrance doors to basement flats should ideally be certificated to PAS 24:2012, or preferably LPS 1175 SR2, the higher standard offering the added benefit of unbreakable glass.

Issue #2: Lack of Ventilation

Getting a reasonable amount of airflow into basement flats is known to be a challenge and for this reason many occupants decide to leave windows open. To combat the security issue this throws up, it is a good idea to fit window stops so there is a limit to how far the window can be opened.

Lots of basement flats are fitted with window bars, however if these are permanently fixed then evacuation issues could arise in the event of a fire. It is a good idea to take advice from your local fire officer and / or an experienced security expert when planning security measures so that fire safety can be factored in.

Issue #3: Concealed Entrance

When an entrance door is concealed from street view, intruders are able to enjoy additional time and privacy whilst they attempt a break-in. There are numerous measures you can take to secure your doors, including the use of locks and cylinders with restricted keys which can only be cut by authorised locksmiths on production of certain documentation. Read back over our doors at a disadvantage post for a reminder of how you can secure your basement flat doors.

As an additional piece of advice, we liked this suggestion from Roy Emslie, crime prevention officer with the Metropolitan Police, who says that planting the thorniest, prickliest plants you can find around your basement flat perimeter fences can be a great help. He also says ‘an intruder alarm is an excellent deterrent’.

Issue #4: Access Gates & Fire Safety

A lockable access gate is obviously a good thing in as far as security is concerned, but it does throw up issues in regard to fire safety. Of course, for any barrier to act as an effective security measure, it has to be kept locked.

Mortice locks are the option of choice for most basement flat access gates, but they can pose a risk when it comes to evacuation in the event of fire. In our dedicated post on security and fire safety in flats, we suggested using sash locks with shielded thumb turns on the inside of the lock rather than a keyhole as these cannot be accessed from the street side, but still enable occupants to use the gate as they please. You could also opt for an electronic system that is linked to a fire alarm so it is automatically released in the event of a fire triggering the alarm, and can also be controlled via a fob.

Advice on Basement Flat Security

The key to any successful security set-up is to consult security experts with experience in the particular type of property you reside in. At Barry Bros Security we are well versed in dealing with basement flat security in London and our specialists are on hand to offer bespoke guidance and assistance with the necessary risk assessments and liaison with your local Building Control in regard to any fire safety considerations. For the advice you need to secure your basement flat home, please get in touch.