As a landlord, you have a duty to protect the best interests of your property and the tenants residing within. If you’ve never given security a thought, now may be a good time to reconsider. There’s a lot to gain from stepping up your efforts.
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Why Rental Property Security Matters
Rental properties have a couple of unique features that make them bigger targets for criminal activity. First off, there tends to be higher turnover in rental properties than your average residential, owner-occupied dwelling. These periods of vacancy represent opportunities for vigilant criminals.
Secondly, rentals tend to be in lower to middle class areas where it’s less likely that there are significant security deterrents in the neighborhood or on individual properties.
When you break it down to a landlord-specific discussion, there are three practical reasons why rental property security should matter to you:
- Keeping tenants safe. First and foremost, you owe it to your tenants to keep them safe while they’re living on your property. You can’t always prevent every issue, but you can take practical steps to ensure they aren’t targets.
- Protecting property. You should want to protect the investment of the physical property itself. Criminals don’t just seize household possessions; they can also break windows, steal HVAC units, strip copper from household systems, etc.
- Staying out of legal trouble. If a violent crime happens on your property, there are certain legal complications you could face. An investment in security is a good way to prove that you’re looking out for the safety of your tenants.
3 Ways to Enhance Rental Property Security
There’s a difference between understanding the need for rental property security and actually being proactive about the matter. Here are a few simple ideas worth your consideration:
1. Install cameras.
A security camera is one of the single greatest deterrents you can use to prevent crime. It’s also one of the best resources you have for documenting criminal activity and catching the perpetrator.
While tenants obviously won’t want cameras installed inside the house, most will be fine with one or two outdoor cameras. Thanks to advances in the industry and new technology, it’s pretty easy to install your own DIY camera setup. For a few hundred dollars, you can have an entire system up and running.
2. Replace locks after each tenant.
While it’ll cost you a few bucks—and a little bit of your time—it’s a smart move to replace locks after each tenant moves out. The last thing you want is for an old tenant to have keys to the property and take advantage of this access.
The opposite is true as well. As the landlord, you need access to your property. While you can’t just barge in unannounced whenever you please, you do need a working key that gives you access to the property in appropriate situations. Make sure you include a lock policy in your lease that speaks directly to this.
“Your lease can include language that prohibits a tenant from changing the locks unless you give permission and get an extra key,” home improvement expert Laura Agadoni explains. “If your lease doesn’t state anything about locks, tenants can typically change them.”
3. Create a safe perimeter.
You never want a property to be conducive to crime. However, if you aren’t paying attention to the property—and particularly the perimeter of the dwelling—you may be unknowingly increasing risk.
A safe rental property needs adequate outdoor lighting around the entire perimeter. The more you reduce dark areas, the less space you give criminals to lurk. The same goes for hiding spots—such as tall shrubs, storage sheds, and other areas that can shield unwanted intruders.
Don’t Scoff at Security
It’s a lot easier to ignore security and hope things work out for the best, but taking such a nonchalant approach will create problems for you on multiple levels. It’s important that you step up and do your part.
Security is something that needs to be taken more seriously than it is. As a landlord, you have a certain duty of care that’s owed to your tenants and an investment in both direct and indirect security mechanisms and strategies will show that you care for their well-being.
How do you ensure the safety of your tenants?