Vacation homes are a place where many go to find comfort and serenity, and escape from everyday realitites. Yet, this tranquility can quickly dissolve if the right safety precautions aren’t in place.
For example, what if you returned back to your property and discovered that it had been broken into while you were away?
Vacation homes often sit idle for long periods of time, and that makes them a prime target for intrusion, burglary and vandalism.
Below are three tips to help you keep your second home secure.
1. Maintain a Lived-In Facade
Burglars often target unoccupied homes. Therefore, whether you're gone for two weeks or two months, it's important to make it seem like you never left.
- Maintain your yard and landscaping year-round. This may mean you'll need to make special trips to your second home, or hire a landscaping crew to perform regular upkeep.
- Don't let mail or fliers build up. Cancel your mail if you'll be away for an extended period of time, or ask a neighbor to collect it for you.
- Use timed lights so that it appears that someone is home, even if they are not.
- Ask a trustworthy neighbor (preferably a permanent resident) to keep an eye on your home and contact you should suspicious activity, maintenance items or property issues surface.
2. Set Up Remote Video Surveillance
Purchase a home security system that enables remote video surveillance. This way, you can check in on your home at anytime, from anywhere. Log in from your desktop or smartphone to view your property, assess its condition and survey for potential threats. This capability is espesically useful if your second home isn’t within driving distance.
Another advantage: home security systems come equipped with a monitoring service that can alert local authorities if a threat is present.
3. Rent Smart
You may choose to rent out your vacation home when you're away; 27% of vacation homebuyers do. It's easier than ever with websites like Airbnb and Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO). However, in choosing this route, plan for security from the start:
- Get to know your renters prior to signing the contract. Understand why they are traveling and with whom. Do they seem like trustworthy individuals?
- Secure valuables. Set alerts to your mobile phone if safes (or other hiding spots) are accessed.
- Set ground rules for visitors, explaining acceptable behavior and expectations.
- Document the condition of the home. Take photos before you leave to serve as evidence (if needed later) of what was in the home prior to departure. These can be helpful should you need to file a damage or theft claim.
Note that if you choose to rent your property and have video surveillance in place, you’ll need to check your state laws to ensure compliance. Most allow outside security cameras for safety reasons. Just be sure to detail the location of them in your renter's agreement and post signs in the yard to alert people that they are being monitored.