As a landlord, there is a multitude of reasons to invest in security features for your property. Mitigating safety and security risks will decrease the potential cost of damages, repairs, and upgrades over time. Plus, responsible tenants—the kind that will take care of your property—are often willing to pay a premium for a safer place to live.
In most states, landlords bear some legal responsibility for their tenants’ safety and security. In addition to complying with state and local regulations covering rental properties, landlords are expected to act responsibly and may be held liable for crimes that could have reasonably been prevented. After all, prevention is the best protection.
Whether you have tenants in multiunit buildings or single-family homes, here are four security features that will set your property apart.
In many states, landlords are required by law to install certain types of locks on doors and windows. For example, California civil code mandates “operable deadbolt locks on the main entry doors of rental units.” One way to increase security and ease—and the “cool” factor—for you and your tenants is to upgrade to electronic smart locks.
Smart locks are notoriously difficult to pick and come with a variety of features, from Bluetooth and keypad entry options to timed autolocking and smartphone compatibility. This technology ensures the long-term security of your property without the need to rekey or rotate locks every time a tenant moves out—simply delete their passcode and issue a new one. Manage comings and goings from afar by giving contractors, plumbers, and cleaners temporary codes or unlocking the door with your smartphone, and keep a master backup key in your possession in case anything goes wrong.
Smoke Detectors and Fire Extinguishers
Like door and window locks, smoke detectors are often required in residential buildings under state or local law. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 38% of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms. Follow applicable codes when installing smoke detectors, and for larger buildings, consider investing in interconnected alarms that all go off when a single one detects smoke. Provide a fire extinguisher in a spot that is visible and accessible to all tenants, and teach them how to check and change smoke alarm batteries.
Motion-sensing lights are a strong deterrent for would-be intruders—no one wants their crimes in the spotlight. Install them near building entrances and any dark corners of your property where suspicious characters may hide. These lights can detect motion up to dozens of feet in every direction and have the added benefit of lighting up doorways and hallways as tenants come and go. This decreases the likelihood of trips and falls and can cut down on monthly energy bills. Lighting is responsible for 11% of all energy consumed in residential buildings, so seek savings with motion-sensing lights instead of expecting tenants to flip switches on and off in common areas.
Few things provide more peace of mind for tenants and landlords than a security system. As a step above and beyond typical safety measures, a security system with an alarm will alert tenants, neighbors, emergency contacts, and, for monitored systems, the police that a burglar has either entered or is trying to enter the property. This is significant, as a burglary occurs every twenty seconds in the United States, and historically the risk of burglary is higher for rental properties than those that are occupant-owned.
For landlords interested in testing the waters, a simple wireless camera is a good place to start. You and your tenants can monitor activity via a smartphone app and receive notifications of suspicious activity. A professionally monitored system has added benefits—in case of a fire or break-in, emergency crews are notified and dispatched more quickly. Tenants may be willing to cover part or all of the monthly monitoring cost with their utilities. Keep in mind that depending on your property type, you may be limited to certain equipment and features.
By investing in your property’s security, you’ll protect your investment for the long term and build goodwill with your tenants. Have an honest conversation with prospective renters about the neighborhood and building security and highlight what you’re doing to mitigate risks to create a positive living experience for all.
About The Author: Emily Long is a safety expert for SafeWise. She is passionate about promoting safe and healthy habits and loves to geek out on new tech gadgets. When she isn’t writing about safety and wellbeing, she can be found teaching yoga, road-tripping, or hiking in the mountains.
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