According to the latest Toronto Police crime statistics, there were just over 5,800 break and enter crimes reported so far in 2016. While this is low considering the amount of dwellings in the city, it goes without saying that better security will keep your tenants – and your property – safe. As with any business decision, you have to weigh how much you want to spend on it against the risk.
Get solid locks with deadbolts
Locks with deadbolts are vastly superior to other forms of locks, and a deterrent to break ins. While they are expensive, they are worth the investment and prospective tenants who are concerned about security will notice them.
Don’t forget the lights
Whether or not you choose to install a security system, motion-activated lighting in potentially dangerous areas, such as a side entrance or a rear patio, can act as a deterrent both for potential threats to your tenants and threats to your property when it is vacant.
Should I invest in a security system?
The answer to this really depends on what type of rental property you have and how concerned you would be about false alarms. If you have a luxury property, the answer is an automatic yes. High-end tenants will require a security system, usually with video surveillance, and your interests are also best served by having one.
If you have a basement apartment, high-quality locks and good lighting may be enough. In any situation, your insurance company may offer a discount on premiums for having a security system installed – usually not enough to offset the cost, however.
The potential for false alarms is the greatest deterrent to installing a security system. If you install one, make sure your lease agreement clearly outlines that your tenant is responsible for the costs of any false alarms they may trigger and the security of access codes. Multiple false alarms can earn you fines for thousands of dollars, and your tenants won’t care if you are footing the bill. Education can help here too – make sure you run through the security system carefully with your tenant prior to move-in day, and revisit it once annually to ensure they know how to use it.
You may also want to check out this map of crimes in Toronto from 2004 to 2001. Click on the “Break and Enter” selection. If your rental property is in a high-incidence neighbourhood, you will want to factor this into your decision too.
What if my tenant wants to install a security system?
If your tenant wants to shell out for a security system, it does save the cost for you while they are leasing your property. However, your tenant still must provide you with access codes and notify you if they are changed. Additionally, a change should be made to the lease agreement holding the tenant accountable for any costs arising from false alarms, since you will be responsible for those costs no matter who is paying the bill for the system.
What about when my property is vacant?
Vacant properties are more prone to vandalism, especially if measures aren’t taken to make them look like they aren’t vacant. To find out what is required for security, contact your insurance company – this is important anyway as you may have to have certain systems in place in order to not take out vacancy insurance between tenants. Usually, they will recommend motion-activated lights and good locks, but it’s best to ask as they may have specific requirements.
Security for the holidays
While you are on holiday rounds to visit tenants, find out if they are planning to be away, and offer to bring in mail if it may accumulate out front if you have the time to do so and they don’t have plans for friends or family to perform this task for them. Ask them to let you know if they are going on vacations longer than a few days throughout the year so you can keep an extra eye on the property – technically, they don’t have to, but if they do both your property and their belongings will be a little safer.