Deter Vandals from Damaging your Residential Investment Properties
The risk of vandalism at residential rental properties is a real threat that real estate investors should take seriously. The expense and damage could be extensive and impact the property’s marketability should a vandal strike.
Vandalism is a typically a crime of opportunity. Investors who make a commitment toward prevention of vandalism are making an investment in their future financial security, as repairing the damage from vandalism can be expensive.
Vacant residential properties often are often the primary target of vandals. In addition to the theft of copper wiring from air conditioning units, foreclosures or long-vacant properties face the added risk of damages inflicted by someone seeking revenge. News stories have covered extensive damage done to foreclosed properties including stolen appliances, broken sinks, holes punched in sheetrock, gouged flooring, spray painted surfaces and cement poured into the plumbing.
While vacant properties may be easier to access, occupied rental properties can also be the targets of vandals, so it is important that real estate investors prepare for this eventuality.
Here are some steps to deter vandalism at your residential rental properties.
- Add multiple layers of deterrents. These deterrents at the minimum should include reinforced deadbolt locks that are rekeyed after each tenant change and well-lit outdoor areas. Other deterrents could include fencing and a monitored security system.
- Get to know your neighbors. Ask trusted neighbors to keep an eye on the property, especially if it is vacant, and to report anything suspicious. Invite a neighbor to park a car in the driveway once or twice a week and ask them to pull advertising flyers off the door and out of the mailbox.
- Make the property looked lived-in. A vacant property is an easier target than a lived-in, well-kept residence. Have the shades drawn so a would-be thief or vandal cannot look inside. Put lights on timers and keep the yard trimmed and landscaped. Don’t forget to stop the mail and newspapers and don’t leave the property’s trash bins sitting at the curb for more than a day.
- Remove valuables. If you leave tools at a property under renovation, that’s like leaving an open invitation to a thief. If possible, pack up tools each day and remove them from the worksite. Anything left at the site should be secured and kept out of sight. Hide the work dumpster behind the property where it won’t be visible to a passersby. Use lots of lighting and consider a portable alarm system or having someone stay overnight at the property to deter vandals and thieves.
- Evaluate the property’s security. Hire a professional or do your own walk-around. Are windows vulnerable? Could doors be kicked in? French doors may look great, but an unreinforced French door is an easy target for burglars. How’s the lighting? Does it detect motion? Does landscaping provide a hiding place for vandals and thieves (overgrown shrubs) or deter their access (thorn-covered rosebushes under the windows)?
- Check your insurance policy. Does your property insurance policy cover vandalism? What types of vandalism are covered and to what extent? What if the vandalism is caused by a tenant, then what? Are you required to file a police report? It’s a good idea for real estate investors to be well informed on what their policy covers. If the insurance policy doesn’t cover vandalism committed by a tenant, for example, the real estate investor may decide that by increasing security deposits they have provided an added level of protection.
Whether vacant or occupied, real estate investors must be vigilant to protect their property investments from vandalism. This includes employing as many deterrents as make sense to make your properties unattractive to would-be vandals.
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