Choosing a Home Security System for an Income Property
How to best protect both guests and your property with home alarm systems
If you own an income-producing property, it's important to protect it from theft and vandalism. In many states, a landlord's legal responsibilities include some degree of protection of his tenants. Courts are seeing increasing numbers of landlords being sued by tenants who were injured by criminals while living in a rental property. An effective home security system for your rental property can help prevent these legal and financial troubles. Let's take a look at some factors to consider when choosing a security system for an income property.
Most security systems include some form of round-the-clock monitoring: If an alarm in the property is triggered, the home security company will contact you. As a landlord, you'll have to decide how you would prefer to be reached. You can choose to have the property's landline called, although many landlords prefer to have their cell phone called instead. If you have your smartphone with you most of the time, you can choose to receive alerts through the device.
If cost is a major factor, you may want to consider an unmonitored system. In this type of home security system, an alarm will still go off in the event of an intrusion, but a security company will not be contacted. This can be a viable option as long as your tenants are fully aware of the system's limitations and know that they need to call 911 in the event of a break-in.
Home Automation Systems
If you own a vacation home that goes unoccupied for periods of time, you may want to add home automation to your "must-have" list of features when comparing home alarm systems. A home automation system can allow you to control various settings of your income property, even if no one is occupying the home. Using your computer or smartphone to remotely control different items in your home, you can adjust the thermostat, toggle lights on and off and even turn on a television. This type of activity gives the impression that someone is occupying the property and acts as an effective deterrent to burglars. "Smart locks" controlled from any mobile device are another great option. You can grant unique access codes for guests, workers or service people, and expire their access at the end of a tenant's lease period or after an in-home maintenance appointment, for example.
Landlords often need to operate their rental properties on a tight budget. Fortunately, there are ways to economize on a home security system purchase without sacrificing quality. Handling the installation of the system yourself can save a significant amount of money, and most do-it-yourself installations can be completed in an hour or so. If you have the time to install the system yourself and feel confident that you can do it correctly, it can be a great way to cut your home security costs. Another way to save money on an alarm system is to opt for a hardwired system. Although wireless systems have their advantages, wired systems are a more economical, stable choice.
When you determine your budget for a security system, keep in mind that you can offset the expense of installation by factoring the cost into your rental price. Most tenants are willing to pay a bit more for the safety of a fully secured property.
Neighborhood Crime Rate
A final factor that will influence your choice of security systems is the crime rate in your income property's neighborhood. You can customize your system to protect against crimes that have been prevalent in the area. For example, if there have been a number of intrusions through windows, you'll want to make sure that all accessible windows on your property are outfitted with bars or alarms. A property located in a notoriously high-crime neighborhood may benefit from the addition of security cameras or a driveway alert system.
If your income property is a vacation home or an Airbnb property that has a steady stream of short-term renters, adding a home security system may cause a few inconveniences. You'll probably want to change the security code after each guest, and you should be prepared for some false alarms. These small hassles can be annoying, but the peace of mind offered by quality home alarm systems makes the additional effort worthwhile for both you and your guests.
As you can see, it's important to consider your unique needs as a landlord or host when selecting a home security system for an income property.