My 2c would be they have "Justerfied the XP expenditure" for the taking of a safehouse.
Justerfying to beable to pick up a safe house with 5 dots in size is really hard most of the time.
A player with resources 3, can own a home.
A player with Reasource 5, can own half a dozen homes.
But this home doesn't give them the Safehouse/Lair/Haven merit for free.
A home bought oly with resources isn't normally a gameplay focus, that a Lair is.
It is a place where your character sleeps when he is not advancing the plot.
Having high enough resources is justification for spending XP on a safe house though.
"I bought this house" is equivalent justification for the safehouse as "I killed the previous owner."
Physically the building is there.
Physically your character can sleep there. Put his stuff there and the rest.
But there is nothing to stop someone else turning up, it is not safe.
In short I would not give the merit for free.
I would however make sure that if it looked like the players were going that way,
then they had enough Story XP given, to pay for it.
I got into an argument with another ST when i too a Lair that had no dots in security and he suggested that hobos might turn up in it. We eventfully came the other conclusion that yes there was nothing stopping someone who wanted to go in there from getting in,
no one wanted to, because it was Mine, (in that I had purchased dots in it's size etc).
While not safe from active intrusion it was safe from passive intrusion.
If I hadn't put any dots in it at all, I would be expecting squatters to turn up,
my stuff to get nicked, and the area vandalised. vvs if I had security, not only would no one go in tyhere, but a Private Investigator looking for me, couldn't get in, easily.
But with all that it would still be a place insetting that existed.
and I could go there and chase everyone else out.
Edit: Although on the converse,
depending on the effects required from the merit, it may be possible to
have all the required effects through roleplay.
I am iffy about this.
Eg if a character roleplays through having the address removed from whitepages,
maybe even going so far as to Apply the investigation skill to himself.
Buys strong locks, gets a bunch of guard dogs, etc.
One can not argue that he is goign to get all the effects of increating the security dots.
I would prob handle this buy paying out the XP he has earnt from that rolepay and say:
"You have justerfied increasing your does't in Safehouse security. You haven't justified anything else. You can purchase the merit or not, but if you don't then the changes arn't going to stick around forever."
This is all largely related to the fact that I am happy to go above the XP guidelines.
Conversely it would be possible to run a gain where you never gave out XP and just rule of thumbed character advancements: Player: "Can I justerfy upping my Larceny? I've picked like 4 locks since last time. GM: those locks were no challange to you, so i think you will need abit more to justerfy that."
I'm kinda in a agame like that now, the GM has been increasing the XP per session by about 5 every story arc, i think we are upto about 30XP per session. But makes it really hard to ever justerfy XP expenditures, so most players have about 100+XP spare.