As much as landlords hate it, vacant rental properties are just part of doing business. Whether a tenant has moved out early, you’re still screening for the perfect tenant, or you’re just renovating, a vacant rental faces plenty of risks.
A vacant property in Phoenix is susceptible to break-ins of all kinds. That’s why it’s so important to take a proactive approach to securing a vacancy. In fact, this is the case no matter how long it’s going to be empty.
That’s why today we’re going to look at how you can secure a vacant property in Phoenix so it’s no longer vulnerable and your annual profits remain unaffected.
Top Risks Facing Vacant Properties
Here’s a look at some of the most important risks facing a vacant property in Phoenix:
- Theft: when a rental property is vacant, thieves know there is less risk of being caught. And, despite being “empty,” vacancies actually have a lot of appeal. People like to steal things such as appliances, AC units, and even copper piping.
- Trespassing: people in need of shelter often seek out vacancies to live in. They may spend a significant amount of time in your rental, and even invoke squatter’s rights. Unfortunately, Arizona makes it quite easy for squatters to take over empty properties.
- Vandalism: people like to damage property for all sorts of reasons. Your vacant rental may fall victim to graffiti, broken windows, damaged appliances, and much worse.
- Rental Scams: scammers seek out vacant properties to “rent” to unsuspecting tenants as though the property is their own. While this is illegal, the legal fallout from this can be time-consuming and costly.
As you can see, there are many reasons why you should protect your vacant property. So, let’s see how to do just that.
How to Secure a Vacant Property in Phoenix
Although your Phoenix, AZ rental property has the potential to be a good investment, it also comes with a lot of risk. This is especially true when it’s empty. Here are some of the best ways to secure your vacant property in Phoenix.
1. Manage the Exterior
Making it appear as though someone still lives in your rental property starts with the exterior:
- Add Exterior Lights: motion-sensor lights are a great way to deter people from breaking into the property at night. Better yet, you can get timer lights that turn on at the same time every night to make it appear as though someone is home.
- Use Window Coverings: make sure your property’s windows have blinds or curtains. This will keep people from peeking inside and noticing it’s empty. It will also give the appearance that people are home.
- Maintain the Yard: well-maintained landscaping is one of the best ways to make it appear as though people come around frequently, even if the property is empty. This makes it that much harder to plan a break-in.
Exterior appearances are an easy way to keep your property protected.
2. Check Your Insurance
As a landlord, it’s important you have homeowner’s insurance to protect your investment. That said, there is specialized vacancy insurance you can get to further protect your property.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies won’t cover things like fire, vandalism, or other types of claims related to a vacant property. You should look into an additional insurance policy or even an endorsement for added protection.
3. Make Entrances Secure
Doors, windows, and garages are all entry points for those looking to break into a vacant rental property. They also provide easy access to things like water heaters, wiring, furnaces, appliances, and more.
Here are some best practices for securing your property’s entrances:
- Change the locks as soon as the property becomes vacant
- Reinforce the exterior doors to prevent them from being kicked in
- Add metal door jamb shields and hinge shields
- Secure all windows with locks, even those in the basement or attic
- Lock the garage door or use a remote to open/close it
- Board up the windows using plywood or specialized Plexiglas
These tiny details can go a long way in protecting your property from those looking for an easy in.
4. Inspect the Property Regularly
Just swinging by every now and again to make sure nothing bad has happened to your empty rental is another proactive way to secure your vacant property in Phoenix.
Doing this will give people scoping out your property the impression that someone lives there. In addition, it gives you a simple way to make sure no one has already broken in or damaged the property. Just make sure to schedule your inspections for different times so you don’t become predictable. And if this is too much work for you, consider enlisting the help of an experienced Phoenix property management company to help.
5. Get an Alarm
A great way to secure your vacant property is to get an alarm system you can access on the go from a mobile device. This way, anytime there is any activity in or around your property, you and the authorities will be alerted right away. Plus, you’ll be able to see exactly what’s happening in the moment and determine whether it’s a real threat or not.
6. Check the Plumbing
One of the worst things that can happen to your vacant property is water damage that goes unnoticed. It’s bad enough when a leak springs up in your property while your tenants are living there. However, the amount of damage that can occur because of a water leak that no one knows is happening can be devastating.
To make sure your vacant property is secure, check the plumbing as soon as your tenants have moved out. This includes checking the pipes for leaks, draining the system, and even covering pipes during cold weather.
7. Notify the Neighbors
If you’re close with your neighbors and know your Phoenix property is about to be vacant for some time, enlist their help to keep an eye on things for you. You might even consider letting a neighbor use your driveway to park their car so it always appears as though someone lives there. Not only does this help you protect your investment property, it gives your neighbors the luxury of extra parking space.
8. Stage the Property
If you know your property is going to be vacant, you might consider staging the property on the inside to make it look as though people live there. No matter the effort you put in on the exterior to secure your property, is a vandal or thief can get a look inside your empty property and see that it’s empty, you might have some trouble in the future.
You might not want to stage your property with actual furniture, which can be costly. Instead, you can do small things like place a garbage can outside, create faux footsteps in the snow, or have a newspaper delivered that your neighbor can pick up for you every day and keep.
9. Screen All Tenants
You might not realize this, but some people pose as tenants, only to use the information you provide as a way to break into your property or rent it to others.
Having a solid tenant screening process in place is the key to preventing these kinds of situations. And to make things even easier on yourself, you can use your local Phoenix property manager to perform tenant screening for you. An experienced property manager will know how to identify those that are truly interested in leasing from you and ensure the information about your vacancy doesn’t get into the wrong hands.
10. Don’t Advertise with Visible Signage
One of the best ways to tip off to thieves and vandals that your property is vacant is to openly advertise its availability on the exterior of the home.
Though placing a “For Rent” sign in the window seems like an easy way to advertise your property as available, it’s also one of the riskiest. Instead, use your property management company to advertise your property. A good property management company will have many ways to showcase an empty property. For example, your property manager will use the MLS, newspaper ads, online ads, and even an official property management website.
Secure Your Vacant Property in Phoenix with Stratton Vantage
Securing your vacant rental property isn’t difficult when you have the help of Stratton Vantage by your side. Not only can we help keep your empty property secure from thieves, vandals, and squatters, we can help with things like tenant screening, lease drafting, rent collection, and much more.
[cta] Need your property leased or managed?[/cta] Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help protect your investment property and boost your ROI, without you having to do any of the hard lifting.