Being a landlord isn’t the easiest job. Even when you manage to secure great tenants, accidents and wear and tear can happen. Broken boilers, blocked drains, overgrown gardens, damaged doors – the list could go on. If something happens to your property, tenants will want you to fix it quickly.
One of the worst things that can happen to any property owner – including landlords – is intentional damage. Whether it’s from bad tenants or opportunistic criminals, it can be stressful to deal with problems that arise from someone being deliberately disruptive.
Although the reported burglary rate in the US has dramatically reduced over the last two decades, it does still happen. Both landlords and tenants will want to ensure that the property is safe and secure. Property vandalism continues to be on the rise in the country. According to Building Design + Construction, cities spend nearly $12 billion annually on cleanup projects to defeat graffiti vandalism. New York is among one of the top cities complaining of a rise in property vandalism cases. But, it’s a problem elsewhere too, with research from Direct Line For Business showing that a property is damaged every five minutes in the UK, including criminal damage such as vandalism and arson.
So what can you do to maximize the security of your rental properties? Read on to find out
1. Avoid Bad Tenants
If you have struggled to get tenants, it can be tempting to take shortcuts and skip some of the usual application stages such as checking references. However, bad tenants are a big hassle. Whether it’s unpaid rent, complaints from neighbors, or problems on move-out day (including costly repairs), you’ll regret not doing the proper checks. Avoid people who want to pay in cash at all costs – this can be a big warning sign.
To make this stage easier, many landlords work with real estate agents. They will require any tenant to fill out an application form, with details such as proof of income and references from previous landlords or other reputable contacts.
Although real-estate agents might be able to help with a good tenancy agreement, it’s worth getting legal advice. That’s because the lease agreement will set out all the terms and conditions for living at the property – including who pays for what when it comes to damages – amongst other legal essentials.
2. Have the right insurance
Accidents do happen. It is always better to have protection, rather than having to pay out – especially if you have a couple of properties you rent out.
As a minimum, look for policies that cover you for fire damage, water damage, accidental damage and if someone is hurt on the property. Then it is up to you to consider whether you would like additional protection for home emergencies or rent guarantee. If a boiler breaks or your tenants stop paying rent, how long can you afford to pay the bills? Sometimes extra insurance can give you peace of mind.
3. Invest in Security
Did you know that renters in the US are victims of burglaries or home invasion at over twice the rate of homeowners? Landlords are legally obliged to provide tenants with a secure, non-hazardous living environment. However, security standards do seem to vary between rental properties. To make sure your property does not neglect security, here are some useful tips you can start doing today:
- Change the locks between tenants. If locks are not changed between tenants, numerous people could end up with access to the property. You can also prohibit tenants from making copies of keys and ask tenants to return any and all keys.
- Get to know the neighbors. Introducing yourself to people nearby can be beneficial for you and your tenants. Neighbors who look out for one another and for anything unusual are invaluable. It forms a bit of a security network.
- Check the window locks. Particularly important in older buildings, windows can be a vulnerability that criminals can exploit.
- Invest in a home alarm system. Not only will an alarm system help protect your property from damage, but it will also make the property more desirable for tenants who can feel they and their belongings are safer. The costs of home security systems can be expensive, but it may save you money in the long run.
These suggestions are just the start for responsible landlords looking to boost the security of their investments. How do you keep your property safe? Share your recommendations with us in the comments.
Clay Morrison is a freelance researcher and content producer from the UK. Currently, he gives out online lectures to budding researchers in the field of medicine, technology, and real estate. Some of his latest works include research on the effect of vandalism in property sales.
*Contributions are solely guest opinions and don’t reflect the opinions of or are endorsed by WYL, our staff, clients or other interested parties.