September 20th, 2011
Vacation and rental properties are a growing trend, and it’s important for such homeowners to minimize the risk associating with owning a property that you rent out. Owning a home is a risk in its self, but owning a home that you don’t inhabit regularly adds a different level of risk. There will be times when the property is vacant, and these are the times when you need to be extra cautious.
In his blog post “5 Steps to Protect Your Vacant Rental Property,” Tony Sena offers five tips for reducing the risk of vandalism, theft, or other crimes to your property.
Get rid of the “For Rent” sign. Such signs are no longer necessary with the power of the Internet, and frankly, they draw more dangerous attention than good. Most people who are serious about renting will use the web or a real estate agent to find a place, and all a “for rent” sign will do is tell a potential burglar that your home is vacant.
Keep up with yard work. Keeping up with yard work makes it appear that there is a tenant living in the property. At the least, it suggests that the owner makes a regular appearance at the home. If you live too far away to tend to the yard, hire a landscaping company or a neighborhood kid to visit every few weeks. The peace of mind is worth the cash spent.
Put lights on a timer. Sena points out that leaving a porch light on for 24 hours a day is just as noticeable as a property that is completely dark (especially to a criminal). Having the lights go on a regular schedule gives the appearance that someone is home.
Use the blinds. Closing every blind will hint that no one is home, but keeping every blind open will prove that no one is. Sena recommends both, and says to keep the downstairs blinds closed (so that no one can see in) and leave the upstairs blinds open (so that it appears that someone is home).
Don’t be too revealing. If you decide to post an advertisement yourself, don’t be too revealing with information that could compromise security of your home. For instance, if you reveal the address, you might not want to include the description “move-in-ready, fully-furnished, new appliances.” When interested renters start calling, don’t disclose that the property is currently vacant until you’re sure it’s serious and safe. Sena suggests hiring an experienced property management company, as they will handle the tenant screening work.