5 Easy Ways to Secure Your Summer Rental

1. Invest in smart lights

If you’re between tenants or away for an extended amount of time, a simple way to protect your home is to make the empty space look lived in. Smart lights are a great way to create the illusion of occupants. Once installed, smart lights will turn on (and off) at the time you specify. Set your lights for inconsistent times to further the illusion. If your lights turn on at the same time every day, it’s all too easy for potential intruders to catch on and memorize the pattern. When your smart light activates at different times throughout the week, however, they won’t be able to tell whether someone is there or not.

2. Keep up appearances

Lights aren’t always enough to give your summer rental a lived-in look. An unkempt yard and pile of big newspapers on the driveway are an unmistakable signal that no one is around. Luckily, these problems can be fixed in a matter of minutes. Hire someone to cut your grass, water your plants and perform general maintenance tasks when your home is unoccupied. A manicured lawn will make all the difference. Additionally, ask a neighbor or nearby friend to clear newspapers and business fliers periodically. If you don’t know anyone nearby or can’t find anyone to help you, be sure to cancel your newspaper deliveries and forward all physical mail to a different address.

3. Lock your windows

Locking doors is second-nature, but locking windows slips many rental owners’ minds. An unlocked window, in fact, can be just as dangerous as an unlocked door— windows are one of the most popular home entry methods, especially in the hot summer months. Walk around your summer rental and lock all— yes, all— of your windows. No window is too small or too high. Replace any locks that seem old, worn or otherwise unstable. For maximum protection, insert a dowel rod in the frame.

4. Install security cameras

You can’t have eyes on your property from hundreds (or even thousands) of miles away, but security cameras are the next best thing. Install cameras at strategic locations like the front door, garage, and back entrance to best protect possible points of entry. Once the cameras are installed, monitoring your summer rental is effortless. Many security cameras have apps that display your feeds on your smartphone. You’ll be able to watch your property anywhere, anytime.

5. Double-check major appliances

Securing your rentals requires more than just installing cameras and fortifying locks. If you really want to protect your property, you have to maintain your appliances, too.

Tyler Winder with Black Anchor Real Estate insists that “one of the biggest and most important aspects of being a summertime landlord is to routinely check and maintain your big-ticket items— furnace, water heater, etc. It’s better to be over the top cautious and check these semi-annually or in between tenancies than to sit back and ignore. The last thing you want is the 2:00 am call from a tenant where the water heater burst, they couldn’t find any emergency shut-offs and your summer “cash cow” has turned into having your insurance company on speed dial and contractors working there daily.”

Don’t have the time or availability to make checks yourself? No need to go out of your way— in most cases, it’s just as effective to have someone else do it for you. Winder advises summer rental owners “find a good contact early in the process to check in on these things thoroughly and cut a deal with them to work on a price if it’s bringing them consistent business.” The sooner you can get connected with someone, the better. Research good contractors near your rental or ask neighbors who they use. More often than not, they’ll have someone in mind or can help steer you in the right direction.