Protect Your Investment: Home Security Tips for Vacant Rental Properties

KEY TAKEAWAYS

As a landlord, your investment is a vital source of income, and ensuring that your rental property is secure is essential to protecting it. However, when a rental property is vacant, it can become a target for criminals; if left unsecured, it can lead to costly damages. This article will provide you with tips to protect your investment by securing your vacant rental property.

Understanding the Dangers of Vacant Homes

Vacant homes are at risk of numerous dangers that can cause significant damage to your property. Here are some of the most common threats:

Vandalism

Vacant homes are often targeted by vandals who seek to damage the property. They may break windows, spray graffiti, or destroy the landscaping, causing extensive damage to the property.

Theft

Vacant homes are also targets for thieves who may steal anything from copper piping to appliances to scrap metal. They may also take advantage of an empty home to steal personal items that have been left behind.

Squatters

Vacant homes can also attract squatters who seek shelter in empty properties. Once they move in, it can be challenging to remove them, and they may cause damage to the property in the process.

Natural Disasters

When a rental property is vacant, it is more susceptible to damages caused by natural disasters such as floods, fires, or storms. These damages can be expensive to repair. Additionally, if they go unnoticed, they can lead to further complications.

Fire Damage

Vacant homes are also more prone to fires caused by electrical issues, arson, or even lightning strikes. Fires can cause significant damage to the property and put surrounding homes at risk.

Water Damage

A small leak or burst pipe can quickly escalate into a major problem that costs thousands of dollars in repairs. Even if you have a neighbor keeping an eye on the property, they may be unable to detect the issue until it’s too late. To avoid this, take preventive measures like turning off the water supply and adjusting your HVAC to avoid condensation that could lead to mold. 

Lost Income

As a rental property sits unoccupied, your financial losses as the property owner can quickly mount. Additionally, insurance companies recognize the risks associated with vacant properties and often charge higher premiums— if they even provide coverage. 

Insurance Coverage

If you don’t take the necessary steps to secure your vacant rental property, your insurance company may not cover the damages caused by vandalism, theft, or other dangers.

Even if your investment property is covered by insurance, the policy may include clauses that specify when coverage lapses if the property remains unoccupied or vacant for an extended period. To mitigate this risk, you may be required to purchase costly separate policies that specifically cover vacant homes. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the insurance implications of leaving a rental property unoccupied and take appropriate measures to protect your investment.

Tips for Securing Vacant Rental Properties

Now that you understand the dangers of vacant homes, let’s discuss some tips to secure your rental property:

Change Locks and Alarm Systems

Changing the locks and alarm systems is one of the first steps to securing your rental property. You should change all locks, including the garage and mailbox, to ensure that previous tenants or unauthorized individuals cannot access the property. Installing a security system that includes an alarm and cameras is also an excellent way to deter criminals from targeting your property. A SmartLock can both secure your property and make entry easy for tenants— all you need to do between tenants is change the passcode.

Install Security Cameras

Security cameras are a valuable tool for monitoring your rental property, especially when vacant. Place cameras in areas where criminals are most likely to access the property, such as the front and back doors, windows, and the garage.

Light Up the Property

Lighting up the property is an effective way to deter criminals. Install exterior lights that illuminate the front and back of the property. Motion-activated lights are an excellent option, as they can alert you to any movement on the property.

Secure Windows and Doors

Secure all windows and doors by installing sturdy locks and burglar-proof glass. In addition, consider reinforcing the doors with steel frames.

Keep Up with Regular Maintenance

Maintaining your rental property is crucial to prevent any damages caused by natural disasters or wear and tear. Make sure to keep the lawn mowed, trim any overgrown trees or bushes, and clean the gutters to prevent water damage. This also helps disguise that the property is vacant, as it is well-cared for.

Preventative Measures for Water

Consider turning off the water supply and draining the pipes to prevent freezing. Additionally, keeping the heat to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit can help protect pipes that can’t be drained. During the summer months, it’s also a good idea to keep the AC on and use dehumidifiers to reduce the likelihood of mold growth.

Hire a Property Management Company

If you are unable to maintain your rental property or live too far away to monitor it regularly, consider hiring a property management company. They can take care of maintenance, inspections, and security for you, ensuring that your investment is protected. Additionally, when implementing security measures, explore different pricing models for home security systems to find a solution that aligns with both your budget and protection needs.

Conclusion

Protecting your vacant rental property is crucial to safeguarding your investment from potential damages and liabilities. By implementing the tips and strategies outlined in this article, you can minimize the risks and protect your investment.

Remember that prevention is always better than cure. Taking the time and effort to secure your rental property now can save you from headaches and financial losses in the future. So, don’t take any chances and prioritize the safety and security of your investment.

Finally, always stay informed and up-to-date with the latest security trends and technologies to ensure your property is always protected. With the right strategies and a little bit of effort, you can protect your investment and enjoy the benefits of being a successful landlord.

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