Should You Install an Alarm System for Your Rental Property?
If you have a rental property, you’ll need to consider setting up an alarm system on your property. Many homeowners opt to install them, so is it something that you’d want on your property? Is it something that your tenants would want?
Here are some things to consider while making this decision.
What they give you
Most importantly, alarm systems help deter break-ins or property damage. Just having the stickers on the windows/doors can serve as a deterrent. If someone breaks in anyway, the alarm automatically contacting emergency services means that help will be there much more quickly. You don't want to have to wait for the tenant to notice that a break-in happened.
An alarm system can also serve to help with tenant retention and your reputation as a landlord. It’s not required in most situations and shows that you care about your tenants and their security. Seeing that you care mean that they're more likely to stick around longer.
A good alarm system can also increase the value of your property, reflected in higher rental rates or a higher price if you decide to sell.
What they give your tenants
For your tenants, an alarm system is some additional peace of mind. It’s your property, but it's also their home. Make it a place that they feel more secure. The combination of deterrence and more direct response from the police/emergency services will serve to give them greater peace of mind.
It also can give them the feeling that you care and that they can trust you, so long as it’s handled well. Present it as something for their benefit and to be used to help keep them and their home safe, and it’ll be a great benefit to your relationship with them (and vice versa).
Training and the alarm codes
If you provide an alarm system, you need to make sure your tenants are trained to use it correctly. You especially want to focus on shutting it off and preventing false alarms. In many jurisdictions, setting off too many false alarms can mean fines or other legal issues. Proper training is key to preventing those fines.
If you go the route of allowing tenants to install their own alarm systems if they want to, you’ll have to deal with the issue of the alarm codes. Specifically, whether or not they have to give you the alarm codes to their alarm system. To make disputes go as smoothly as possible, make it part of the agreement to install their own alarm system that you need to have the code to turn off the alarm if it’s set off by you entering the apartment. So long as you follow proper procedures to enter the apartment, tenants don’t have the right to refuse allowing you in, so having the codes prevents setting off the alarm unnecessarily and taxing local emergency services with false alarms.
In some situations, you might be required to install alarm systems. As with anything else, make sure to check state and local laws before making decisions like this.
If you decide not to install an alarm system, give tenants the option to install their own. This is easy with the rise of wireless systems, but running the wiring for a system, even if you don’t install it yourself, can help if a tenant chooses to install one themselves later.
As a final note, make sure to include a section or addendum in the lease about the alarm system. Putting down in writing how the system is set up and how to use or change it will save a lot of headaches down the road.