Renting out your vacation rental when you aren't using it is a popular thing to do. In fact, according to a study by PhoCusWright, a Sherman Conn.-based research firm, vacation rental properties are a $24 billion business in the United States, which is equivalent to 20% of all hotel room revenue. But how do you keep your vacation home secure, even when you are hundreds of miles away? Try these four useful tips to help keep your rental property secure.
Maintain a lived-in look.
It’s important to make your vacation home look lived-in at all times. When the home is empty, and appears as such, it’s a prime target for burglars. This doesn't mean you have to leave the lights on all the time or hire an expensive property manager to check on the home. There are a few other, simpler, things you can do to help your home looked lived in.
- Maintain the yard all year. If you live close enough, you can make a trip a couple of times a month to mow the lawn and pull some weeds. If you live far away, consider hiring a neighbor or yard crew to help keep the yard and landscaping maintained.
- Don’t let mail or newspapers pile up. If you have mail delivered to your vacation home or a newspaper subscription, be sure to cancel delivery when you are away.
- Make friends with neighbors. Find a trustworthy neighbor, preferably one that is a permanent resident, to keep an eye on your home. This may include taking care of any regular maintenance or notifying you of any suspicious activity. You’ll also want to let this neighbor know when there are renters coming to stay.
Check recent safest cities reports.
When scouting places to buy a rental property (or any property for that matter), see if your potential neighborhood ranks among the state’s safest cities on SafeWise.com. SafeWise bases its rankings on an aggregate of FBI crime data, along with other factors.
Set up video surveillance.
Purchase a home security system that comes with remote exterior video surveillance. With remote video surveillance, you can keep an eye on the exterior of your home anywhere, any time. You can monitor from a home computer, at the office, on your smartphone or tablet. This way, you can see if there is any suspicious activity or anything you need to tend to immediately. Most home security systems will allow you to alert local authorities, if necessary as well. This is especially helpful when you aren't within quick driving distance of your rental property.
Ask friends, family, and neighbors who have home security what provider they like so that you can choose a reputable one. If you have a system already, make sure to review it so that others can find a system that is right for them.
Lock up your valuables.
If you keep any valuables in the vacation rental, like jewelry or even a fully stocked liquor cabinet, be sure to lock those items away. If your closet has a lot of clothes and shoes in it, it may be worth putting a lock on the closet. Putting valuables in a safe or lockbox is a good idea and some security systems even offer cabinet sensors. These sensors alert you if someone gets into something they shouldn't be, which can even be helpful if you have renters or guests in your vacation home. You can also put a surveillance camera near the locked spaces to monitor if anyone goes near them.
When it comes to renting your property, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Review your home safety list before and after every renter and be sure to be extra vigilant with your personal property.
What other advice do you have for keeping rental properties safe? Comment below to share.
This post comes from Elli Bishop. Elli is a home safety expert and writer for SafeWise, a company on a mission to help keep your home, your family, and your community safe!