Top 10 Rental Property Safety Tips

Keep your rental property safe, and protect yourself at the same time! If you’re a landlord renting a house, be sure to cover these bases or your investment decision could blow up in your face.

1. Make it safe
Ensure steps & walkways are in good condition, install handrails, and have an electrician do a safety audit on all lights, switches and outlets. Avoid zaps, slips and falls and you avoid calls from a personal injury lawyer!

2. Make it secure
Simple and low-cost security measures will help reduce break-in risks and increase the longevity of your investment. Install window bars, proper door handles & locks, door chimes and alarms, and motion-sensor lighting around the perimeter of your home.

3. Be diligent with background checks
When your renter supplies references do your proper diligence and perform a thorough background check. Call ALL references, current employer, past employer, and make proper inquiries such as responsibility, financial independence, reliability, etc. If your renter cannot produce references, do not rent to him/her.

4. Be firm
Ensure your firmly enforce the rules, restrictions and boundaries of your rental property to your renters. Communicate to them what’s important to you to as far as security precautions go, in the interest of safety for both parties. Ensure they understand the rules and communicate them to visiting friends and relatives, and/or housesitters. Things like no extra-key-cutting, enforcing doors locked at all times, keeping garage overhead doors closed, and reporting suspicious activity in the neighborhood are good examples of security issues you need to communicate to your renters.

5. Stick to code and pay attention to bylaws
Know the construction codes and bylaws in your province and city, and stick to them at all times. Building or renovating without permits is a bad decision, especially if you plan on renting your property. Save yourself a potential nightmare full of fines, risks and liabilities by paying attention to code and bylaws.

6. Invest in home security
Start by requesting a home security audit or assessment from a home security company. Most companies offer consultation for free. Decide on what home security features you want done professionally, and which you want to do yourself. There are many do-it-yourself home security additions you may do yourself at low-cost such as upgrading door locks, installing new gate locks, and installing blinds. Technology as simple as webcams and wireless video cameras are not only a deterrent to burglars, but quite affordable and easy to setup. The monitoring features will also allow you to check in on your rental property from time to time, for peace of mind.

7. Connect with your neighbors
Meet your neighbors, share phone numbers, and agree to keep an eye on each others properties. Your neighbors will be just as concerned with your home security as they are theirs, as they’re more or less connected. Agree to report suspicious activity to each other and ensure both parties know who should and who should not be lurking around the yard!

8. Keep proper photo records and documentation
This tip isn’t so much a home security tip as a common-sense tip for landlords. Your belongings, and those of your tenants, should be photographed and documented in the case theft. Determined burglars will get into your home, that’s a fact, so be prepared for the worst and make sure your assets are recorded/documented and covered within your home owners insurance.

9. Trust your gut instincts
If your gut tells you something’s wrong, it probably is. If you’ve received a rental inquiry from someone who appeared to be scoping out the joint vs legitimately inquiring about the rental property, trust your gut and be on guard. If suspicious characters are spotted scoping out your neighborhood claiming to look for a lost pet, report them. Trust your gut instincts and don’t let your guard down, otherwise you might just let trouble walk through the front door.

10. Use common sense
The single best tip in this list: use common sense. If you opt out of blinds and curtains, thus allowing burglars to peer into your furnished rental property and “window shop”, it’s only a matter of time before they take the next step and break in. If you have a loose door-locking policy for your home and garage, it’s only a matter of time before items go missing. If you do not enforce safety and security rules/policies with your renters, they’ll neglect them and you both will eventually pay the price. Use common sense and you’ll drastically increase your chances of maintaining a safe and secure rental property.

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