Just as you want to feel safe and protected in your own home, so too do your renters if you own rental properties. Increasing the security of your rental properties not only protects your renters, but it also protects your investment. It’s a wise decision all around.
While many of the same principles apply to securing rental properties as securing your own home, there are additional aspects to be aware of and many considerations to take in. Ultimately, you want to be able to secure your rentals in a way that is easy and convenient for your tenants and you.
The Importance of Home Safety for Rental Properties
Home safety for rental properties is important for many reasons. First and foremost are the people inside those properties. Keeping people safe wherever they are staying, and for whatever duration, is simply the right thing to do. Just as you would not want any harm to come to you or your family, you do not want any harm to come to your renters.
Beyond that, there’s the fact that it is easier to attract renters when they see that a property is safe and protected.
There are also potential savings in the long run by investing in rental property security. By helping to prevent break-ins, you prevent the financial and emotional burden of paying for damages. Having security systems in place can also reduce the cost of insuring the property.
Five Ways to Get Started on Securing Your Rental Properties
So where should you start when it comes to building a home security system for your rental property? Here are a few ways to get started:
Install an alarm system
Invest in exterior lighting
Ensure your doors are secure
Secure your windows
Install security cameras and additional sensors
Install an Alarm System
The basic components of an alarm system are the base and keypad or digital panel, entryway contacts, motion detectors and other sensors, yard signs and window decals, and professional monitoring.
The base and keypad, or digital panel, is the brains of the security system. Modern ADT home security systems use a digital touch screen panel that allows you to add sensors to your system and easily arm or disarm your system. Features of the digital panel include:
Smart home automation: You can create automations for different times of day and situations and even use geofencing technology to trigger smart devices, like lights and thermostats.
Remote control capabilities: By connecting the digital panel with a smart home app on your phone, you can operate the system remotely.
Voice control capabilities: Integrate your ADT system with a smart home platform like Amazon’s Alexa for easy voice control within your home.
Advanced encryption: ADT uses the latest two-way encryption technology for a more secure connection with your devices.
Entryway contacts are sensors that can be placed on windows and doors. These contacts contain two parts each – one part that is mounted on a windowsill or door frame and another part that is mounted on the window or door. When closed, the two pieces align, nearly in perfect contact. When the system is armed and the door or window is opened, the contact is broken, and an alert is sent via a signal to the digital panel.
Motion sensors can be placed both inside and outside of a property and will send a signal to the digital panel when motion is sensed. ADT motion sensors allow you to set the sensitivity so that you will only be alerted if the movement is large enough (as opposed to being notified every time a tree branch sways or a dog runs by).
Yard signs and window decals might seem very low-tech, but they can work as deterrents. Criminals are significantly less likely to try to break into a property if it has a security system.
If you don’t want to have a security system professionally installed in your rental properties, you can go the DIY route by using Blue by ADT. This is a system of smart security devices and sensors that can easily be installed by yourself. You can also self-monitor (by you or your tenants), or you can subscribe to a monthly monitoring service with no long-term contract.
Invest in Exterior Lighting
One of the first things to consider when securing rental properties is lighting. Well-lit exteriors make it more difficult for would-be intruders to go about their business unseen. Proper lighting can also prevent falls and injuries.
Outdoor lighting is also important. All entryways should be lit, including in the front and back of a property. Any entryways that are used to more than one unit should ideally remain lit at all times. You may also consider using motion-sensing lights that turn on when someone approaches.
Motion-sensing lights can be used around an entire property if you would like – especially near any windows or alternative ways of getting into a building. Not only is this a deterrent for any would-be intruders, but it also allows the tenants to see anything going on outside.
Ensure Your Doors Are Secure
Make sure any doors are strong and sturdy, and all locking mechanisms work properly. Doors should always have a deadbolt in addition to a standard door lock. Consider including a peephole or a chain lock for apartment doors, as well, so that tenants can view who is at the door without opening it entirely.
For larger complexes that house multiple units, it can be a good idea to install an intercom system so that tenants can screen visitors before letting them into the building.
Last, but possibly most important, give some serious consideration to investing in smart locks for all doors. The benefits of smart locks in rental units are many, including:
By allowing tenants to use a door code or remote to enter the unit, you don’t have to deal with lost keys or accidental lockouts.
Smart lock systems can be integrated with the rest of a security system, which allows for monitoring and detection of break-ins.
Lock codes can be changed when needed, either to prevent someone the tenant knows from gaining access or previous tenants from entering the property.
Because lock codes can be easily changed, there is never a need to replace door locks between tenants.
For short-term rental units, such as Airbnbs, you can let tenants into the property without having to be there or meet with them to hand over a physical key.
Secure Your Windows
Windows provide alternative entrances into buildings for anyone crafty enough to pry one open (or enter through one that is already open). Because of this, it is important to secure all windows on your rental properties, with particular care given to first-floor or easily accessible windows.
When it comes to securing windows, there are three primary considerations:
Interior locks: All windows should be lockable from the inside. Most windows likely already have interior locks in place, but it’s possible windows in older properties may be missing a locking mechanism, or the mechanism may be broken and in need of repair. Those should be fixed immediately.
Window sensors: Sensors can be placed on windows that will send an alert when a window is opened when it shouldn’t be. These window sensors can easily be integrated into a larger security system. You can also add glass break sensors to windows, as well, that will send an alert if the glass is broken.
Bars: Depending on the location of the rental property, you might consider adding bars to some windows, particularly on the ground floor. While this can reduce curb appeal, if a particular area is known for crime, not only can bars keep tenants feeling safer, but they can also deter anyone from attempting to break in.
Install Security Cameras and Additional Sensors
Another security feature to consider is security cameras. These come in three types:
ADT provides indoor security cameras that can allow you to monitor the interior of a property. Now, if the property is a rental, obviously this video feed is not something you, as the landlord, should have access to, but it might be something you want to offer your tenants.
With indoor cameras, tenants can monitor the property from a smartphone app wherever they are, and two-way communication capabilities allow them to communicate with parents, kids, or pets that might be home without them.
Outdoor cameras can be set up to monitor the exterior of a property. Whether a single unit dwelling or a large apartment complex, having a live video feed of what is going on outside can allow you, your tenants, or the monitoring service to be aware of any potentially illegal activity. Modern outdoor security cameras are weather-resistant and have night vision.
Doorbell cameras are a great way to see who is at the door, whether it is someone at the entryway of a complex or ringing the doorbell of a house. These cameras can allow your tenants to view visitors before letting them in or catch porch package thefts in action.
In addition to cameras, it’s possible to integrate other smart home and security devices into your apartment security system. This includes smart bulbs, thermostats, garage door openers, flood and carbon monoxide detectors, and much more. Contact ADT today to speak with a representative and see what might be possible.
Long-Term vs. Short-Term Rental Security
How you approach securing your rental properties might depend on several factors, including whether the rental is long or short term. It might also depend on whether you want to include the security features and monitoring as something you pay on the renters’ behalf, or if you want to provide them the option of activating a system and paying for a subscription themselves.
Short-Term Rental Security
With a short-term rental property, you should always be the one taking care of security monitoring. It probably doesn’t make sense to include indoor cameras in such a property for privacy reasons, but outdoor and doorbell cameras and all other security devices can be used if desired.
You then need to decide between a professionally installed and monitored system or a DIY installation and self-monitoring. One security feature that probably provides the biggest convenience for short-term rentals is smart door locks. The ability to email the door code to a tenant instead of meeting them to hand over the keys, as well as the ability to change codes easily between tenants, can be indispensable.
Long-Term Rental Security
These same conveniences can be nice for long-term rentals as well, but the choice is ultimately yours. With long-term rentals, you need to decide which options are important to you in keeping the property secure, and which options you want to leave the renters to decide on.
For example, you may wish to install a complete apartment security system with indoor and outdoor cameras and tell the tenant that you will pay for basic monitoring, but the camera systems are extras they can add on if they like.
When it comes to rentals, you have less control over what the tenants do and don’t do when you aren’t around. If you don’t think they will remember to arm the security system or use it properly, then it might make sense to leave activation as an option they can decide on. You can instead cover any external building monitoring and leave the rest up to them.
Communicating Expectations With Tenants
Whatever you decide your policies are with regards to security in your rental units, make sure they are clearly stated in the rental agreement, and you speak with your tenants, so they know and understand what is expected.
It should be clearly laid out what is included in the security system installed in their unit, whether they or you are paying for monitoring, and how to use and arm the system that is installed.
Sync Your Property Locations
If you have multiple rental units or property locations that you want to keep secure, you would likely want this to be as easy as possible. ADT can provide you with a plan to cover all of your properties under one account, allowing you to be updated and notified no matter where the alert occurs.
ADT has partnered with everyone from single homeowners to large management firms desiring to integrate smart home security technology in multi-family units.
Get Started Today
If you’re ready to secure your rental units and want to get started, contact an ADT representative who can help you find the right solution for you.
The team at ADT represents the industry’s largest sales, installation, and service field force, as well as the most experienced operators in the industry.