WRITTEN BY REALTY TIMES STAFF
Burglaries are a concern for all home owners, but for landlords, they are an even bigger risk. Households living in rental properties experience burglaries at a higher rate than other households, Department of Justice statistics show. Households living in rental properties are more likely to be burglarized both when no one is home and when the property is occupied. This holds true across all categories of properties, regardless of income level, race or whether the household is composed of single or married persons.
This higher risk makes security an even more urgent priority for landlords than it does for typical homeowners. A high rate of burglary can make your property harder to rent and less valuable, while strong security features can be a strong selling point. Here are four tips to keep your rental properties secure.
Make It Look Like Someone Is Home
Burglars prefer to break into a property when no one is home. Almost all burglars will avoid breaking into a property when there are signs of someone home, such as a car in the driveway or a loud TV or radio, a survey of 86 convicted burglarsfound.
You can help protect your properties by taking steps to make it appear as if your tenants are home. This is especially important during holiday seasons when many tenants are away on vacation. If tenants will be away for a prolonged period, coordinate with them to arrange to have mail and newspapers picked up and snow shoveled while they’re away. Encourage them to leave a radio or TV on loudly while they’re out.
Deny Opportunities for Concealment
Burglars seek concealment and hate to be seen, so taking away opportunities for concealment can serve as an effective deterrent. One way to do this is by maintaining landscaping so that there are no bushes or trees burglars can use to hide behind as they approach properties. Landscaping can actually have a bigger deterrent effect on burglars than doors, locks and windows, police officers interviewed by the Sun-Sentinel advise. Keep all bushes and hedges trimmed to no higher than three feet so that they are not tall enough to provide concealment. Plant low, thorny bushes beneath windows, and make sure there are no tree branches near windows that can assist burglars trying to scale properties. Add loud gravel to make it hard to conceal the sound of footsteps.
Another way to deny concealment at night is to install motion sensors that trigger lights. Adding a visible camera will let burglars know their actions are being seen.
Use Locks Effectively
Locks are a crucial part of any security approach, but in order for locks to be effective, they need to be used correctly. For properties with many renters, commercial-grade mortise locks will stand up to frequent use better than other types of locks, advises Lock Blog locksmith expert Ralph Goodman. Anti-drill plates and security pins will reinforce basic locks.
At a minimum, locks should be rekeyed after each new tenant. However, some locks that are designed to be easy to rekey, such as the Kwikset SmartKey cylinder and the U-Change Lock, are also less secure, warns Goodman. For this reason, it is often better to change locks than to rekey them. Using a patented key will prevent a locksmith from making a duplicate key without your permission.
Install Secure Barriers
In addition to locks, it’s also important to install other strong barriers. Seventy percent of break-ins are done through the front door, FBI data shows. In 80 percent of these cases, the door frame fails when it is kicked or battered in. Strong doors and doorjambs will prevent doors from being kicked or rammed in. Security screen doors provide the strongest door defense. Window bars and reinforced glass or plexiglas will help buttress window security.
It’s also important to use strong barriers for outdoor areas of properties. Security gates and fences from a fully-licensed and insured provider such as Tampa fencing supplier Florida State Fence can help protect the perimeter of your properties. Make sure that garage doors and windows are also secure. For automatic garage door openers, use a zip-tie to secure the safety release so that thieves can’t bypass it with a coat hanger.