I remember the first time my house was robbed. The thought that my personal space had been violated, felt horrible. The idea of a stranger walking through the house and going through my things was nauseating.
It is a terrible feeling, but it happens all too often. I’ll get a call from a tenant, landlord or property managertelling me a property has been broken into. The window has often been smashed, the door kicked in, or the locks tampered with.
It’s a scary experience for the tenant, and it is a headache and drain on money for the landlord. More often than not these instances can be easily avoided with some simple maintenance of the property’s security.
Here are my top tips to for rental property security.
Secure Your Main Entrances
In most provinces it is a requirement that all entrance doors be fitted with a deadbolt.
While it is optional to use a single or double cylinder deadbolt, I highly recommend installing a double cylinder deadbolt for extra security. This is especially important if you have a window nearby. A double cylinder deadbolt will stop the thief from reaching in and opening the door from the inside.
The deadlock can be a separate piece from the door handle, or you can buy a deadlock that is incorporated into the handset.
To further secure your entrances from unwanted intruders, install solid wood or metal doors. Flimsy wood or doors with windows can easily be kicked or smashed in. A solid construction door will ensure that any potential thieves will have a hard time getting through.
If you have had to evict a bad tenant, get your locks rekeyed. This is often cheaper that buying a new set of locks. [Note from Julie: We install the SmartKey locks by Weiser on many of our properties so rekeying doesn’t require a locksmith].
Check Your Window Security
Whilst windows must be fitted with a mechanism which prevents the window from being opened from the outside, in a lot of provinces they don’t require a lock.
However, in most cases a burglar can easily smash a window and open the latch, giving them easy access to your home. If burglars can see that you have installed locks on your windows, they will second guess breaking in. A locked window with broken glass is harder to get through than a window that is opened.
Install External Lighting
The last thing a would-be thief wants is having a spotlight shone on their suspicious behavior. Motion sensor lighting is an excellent deterrent to intruders.
As a minimum measure, make sure you install security lighting at the main entrances to your home. If you have a larger budget, consider installing security lighting around your property to illuminate potential hiding places for burglars.
Install A Security System
Security systems are one of the best deterrents you can install in your property. It also has the added benefit of increasing your properties desirability to prospective clients.
If you already have one installed, make sure you run new tenants through how the system works. Some people prefer their privacy, and may not share their own access codes with you. As the landlord, you can ask for your own access code that you can use in an emergency. [Note from Julie: on a few of our rentals with security systems we have a master code the tenants can’t change – they can always change their own access code, but our master code will always override the system. This is especially important if a tenant forgets the code, leaves without telling you their code, or as already noted, there’s an emergency requiring you to go inside.]
If you don’t have a security system, you should consider getting one installed. There are many different security systems available. These include options that won’t require drilling holes into walls or taking a long time to install. There may even be an insurance discount available if you have a monitored security system in place. And, tenants in certain areas might be willing to pay additional rent just for the peace of mind a monitored security system can provide.
Make sure you thoroughly discuss with the security provider the details of the system and how it works. Check if there are any long-term binding contracts associated with installing the security system. Not all security systems require this, however, it is a good idea to check.
I recommend landlords are present during the systems installation. This helps to address any further questions or worries you may have.
Advertise That Your Home Is Secure
Posting up security signs in prominent places can work as a good deterrent to would-be thieves. These signs are reasonably cheap and should be placed in a noticeable location such the front door or entrance to the property. Many times the company will give you stickers or signs to put up.
Keep the signs generic. Don’t include the make, model or manufacturer details of your security system on the sign. This information can be used by more experienced burglars to disable or bypass your security system.
Remove Potential Hiding Places
Do you have any shrubs or objects near the windows or doors of your property? These can be used as a cover for someone trying to break into your home.
If possible, get these removed next time you clean or renovate your property. If you have any tall or thick shrubs around your doors or windows that you don’t want to remove, make sure the tenant keeps them well trimmed.
Document All Of Your Furnishings
If you own a holiday rental or include furnishings with your property then it is a good idea to have a detailed record of the items in your property. If your property is broken into and something is stolen then this will make it easier to replace and claim with insurance.
Details that you should document include:
- Manuafacturer Details
- Model Name/Number
- Serial Number
- A Photograph Of The Item
These details should be kept with you, and not on the property.
Consider engraving or using invisible ink to mark your belongings. This can help recover any stolen property. Engrave something that is traceable such as your drivers license number.
Before you do engrave your belongings, double check with your insurance company and make sure that engraving doesn’t void the warranty.
For items that can’t be engraved, you can mark them with an ultraviolet pen. These pens don’t damage the item and are only visible under an ultraviolet light. These marks can fade over time, so renew the markings whenever you get the chance. If you have tenants in your property for long periods of time, make sure you re-mark everything before a new tenant moves in.
Items to consider marking and documenting include:
- Garden & Power Tools
- Office Equipment
- Radio’s/Music Players
- Any bicycles you keep on the property
- Kitchen goods
- Anything else of value in your rental
Before You Start Updating Your Security
If your house is currently occupied, please double check local laws and the contract your have with your tenant. It is illegal for either the landlord or tenant to remove or change any locks without getting the consent of the other person. You may have to wait to update your rental property security until the tenant moves out.
If you are choosing to upgrade the security of your property above the minimum standards, then it is important to talk to your tenant. You may need to add an addendum to your lease to account for the new agreements you make to cover the new security measure. Make sure you put any agreements in writing and make sure that both of you sign the agreement.
Whether it’s for your tenants, your own peace of mind, or a bit of both, updating security is something that can prevent hassle, reduce potential insurance claims, and increase the confidence you have that all is well with your investment!
Nathan is a founder of a LocksmithsInSydney.com. Locksmith Sydney provides the resources you need to make sure your property is safe and secure. He specializes in helping property owners find the best locksmith for their security needs. Check out his simple free checklist to securing your home against intruders.