If your existing investment property is going to be untenanted over holidays or your tenants are leaving for their summer vacation there are precautions you can take. If your property is still in the ‘construction’ stage, what has up to now been a busy building site with tradesmen in and out all day will soon resemble a ghost town as the workers take their annual hiatus.
Windows and Doors
A solid, front security door will deter invaders from your home, and is a good selling point when tenanting. Fit all windows with security screens or locks and ensure the property has been secured when being left for a period of time.
Purchase four of the super-bright halogen box style exterior lights and have them mounted on all four corners of the house. These are usually set up so that they come on when it gets dark. The neighbours may be curious about what you are doing, but explain that this is to protect them as well.
These lights can be taken down when the house is occupied again but leave them up if you have any problems. If you find that they do not compromise the appearance of your rental property you may just want to leave them up anyway.
Buy fake security cameras and mount them near doors and where they can be seen. Get some signs that say “Security Cameras on Premises” and place them in the yard or on windows and doors if they are the stickers.
Put signs on all doors and low windows that state:
“All workers are instructed not to leave any tools or materials on premises.” You can easily do these on your home computer and laminate them to make them look more professional. Although some vandals break into homes that are being worked on or constructed to steal tools, they will see your property as not being worth it since contractors are being instructed to take all tools and hardware home, even though there is actually no work going on anyways.
Make Sure That Your Insurance Is Really Covering You
Have the right insurance. Check with your insurance company to see if you need to change your policy when your rental property is vacant. Many times carrying a builder’s risk policy will properly cover you from vandalism and material losses.
Put in a security system
Put in a basic security system, or if this is too much money, get some security company signs and put them in your yard. Do a few ‘siren tests’ to show people that the system is up. Typically in some areas, break-ins are done by people who live nearby. Let that alarm ring to let them know that you are wired.
An investor I know uses electronic devices that sound like dogs barking!
Car In The Driveway
If you have an old clunker or an extra car available, leave it at the house in the driveway. If you can make the house look lived in, that will do more for you than any other idea.
Interior Lights and Blinds
Ask a neighbour to pop in to turn your lights on in the evening and draw your blinds. There are even timers available, you set which times you want the lights turned on and off.
Above all, if you can’t do so yourself ask someone to have a walk-round or drive-by every few days or leave a phone number with a trusted neighbour. If your property does get broken into, you need to know straight away in order to call your insurer and take steps to secure the home.