When you decide to purchase a vacation rental property it’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of having a really awesome new asset that you can enjoy with your family; not to mention earn some good money on. This is why it’s important to take a few moments, to step back, and to think through all the things you need to do as an owner to make sure that both your property is secure and that your guests will feel safe during their stay.
This list highlights some of the safety and security things you should consider having and a few that you absolutely must have.
Shut the Front Door
Seems like the best place to start is right at the beginning. You want the front door to be made of either solid wood or even steel. And this includes the frame. Often if you are purchasing directly from a builder, this is one of those places they save money. Of course, you want to consider replacing any and all doors in the same fashion. With a vacation property, you are going to be dealing with regular intervals where there is no one home. A good solid front door serves as a great first deterrent to would-be freeloaders.
Just like the front door, you want to make sure the windows are secure. Each window should have a locking mechanism and you should consider having them coated with a shatterproof film. Now, it’s also important that you regularly inspect the windows to make sure they are opening and closing effortlessly. Much as you want to keep your property secure, you also need to know that in the event of an emergency they will work as a means to escape the building. This also means that you should avoid painting the frames. If you are purchasing an older property, you may find the windows have been painted so many times they can be stiff or even a challenge to open. Don’t waste your time trying chip away years of paint, replace the window, frame and all. Not only will you provide that added security, but you will no doubt realize considerable energy savings and a reduction in draft.
All the Bells & Whistles
You will want to consider installing a home alarm system. Whether or not you need a professionally monitored system is up to you. Today there are many options that will notify you through a smartphone app if the alarm has been triggered. The big thing to keep in mind when selecting an alarm is simplicity. With guests renting the space you want something that is easy for them to turn on and off without fear of triggering a police response. In addition, you will want to place a few stickers indicating an alarm system on doors and windows to act as an additional deterrent.
Light it Up
Sensor lights around the property can be added for very little cost and do so much. With many of the new LED systems, you can set the lights to stay on quite low from dusk to dawn and have them brighten up in the event that they sense movement. This works to both make it safer around the property for you and your guests and works to deter any would-be burglars from getting too close.
Keeping an Eye on your Investment
Security cameras have come a long way in the last decade and the prices have continued to fall. It is now possible to install low-cost cameras that are virtually undetectable. Only, in this case, you want them to be seen. By installing a tastefully visible camera at all the entrances to your property you are boldly saying that if you try to get in here without permission, I will see you. And nowadays there is no need to review a tape, your security cameras can be monitored easily from your smartphone. It is, however, important to note that you should never install cameras inside the property. You want your guests to feel comfortable and secure in their privacy, not to mention it is illegal in BC.
The Garage Should Just Work
If your property has a garage there are a number of things you can do. First of all, as mentioned above, have a visible security camera outside the door. Next, you will want to have an electric garage door opener to keep things simple. If you want to go one step further, you can install a smart garage door opener, so your guests need only download an app and enter a code to gain access via their smartphone.
While we’re on the subject of garages, you want to make sure you have your garage organized for ease and safety. Hanging a tennis ball on a string a few feet from the back wall is a great way to tell guests they have pulled in far enough. Another great touch is to have any outdoor games or things such as a ladder placed on specific racks or shelves that make them easy to find. Also, don’t hang these too high, you want it to be easy to get at the things you want without climbing or reaching. One of the best safety features is making things easily accessible!
Layers of Security
You may want to consider installing a safe on the premises for any valuables you want to leave there. In fact, a great option is to install two safes, one for yourself and one for guest use. That way they can feel secure leaving any travel documents, jewelry, or currency locked up while they are out and about. Ideally, you will have these safes in separate locations. Consider placing the one for guests in the master bedroom closet, while tucking your personal safe away a basement or crawlspace out of sight.
Detecting the Undetectable
Smoke alarms and C02 sensors should be placed throughout each level of the property. Not only are these legal requirements but they may prove imperative in keeping your guest and your family safe. You may want to consider investing in a smart system such as nest. These systems will notify you via smartphone if the alarm has been triggered or if it simply requires a new battery.
The First Line of Defense is a Good Offense
Consider placing fire extinguishers in both the garage and the kitchen. In the event of a small fire, your guests will be able to quickly respond, possibly saving you thousands of dollars. It is important, however, to have simple instructions for use posted next to each extinguisher. Never assume they will figure it out on their own.
If your vacation property has a swimming pool there are a few precautions you will want to take. First and foremost, place a life preserver next to the pool and post easy to follow CPR instructions, along with emergency contact numbers. Second, make sure you place a few signs around the swimming pool such as No lifeguard on duty, Always supervise children around the pool, No running in the pool area, e&. I know these seem very obvious, but having these reminders for guests is important. Another great addon is to have a selection of pool noodles and water wings for smaller children. Much as keeping a safe eye should be the parent’s responsibility, it makes good sense for you to make it as easy as possible for them to do.
One last great addition is to install an automatic cover. It will mean that guests are not messing about with taking the cover on and off. A simple switch to open-close means they are not struggling and potential of costing you a replacement cover.
The Other Water Worries
Whether you have a pool or not, you not doubt have a bathtub or shower. And while you don’t need to mention the lifeguard policy here it’s a good idea to install permanent non-slip matting on the surface. Having these securely in place means not only that they won’t forget to put down the non-slip mat before showering, but also these non-slip stickers are less prone to bacteria build-up. It keeps safety easy and clean.
Put it All in the Guide
Finally, before you start accepting guests you will want to spend a bit of time creating a simple home manual. Ideally, this will walk your guest through any of the equipment they will have to interact with. Instructions for the furnace or air conditioner, the location of the automatic pool cover switch, where to put the garbage, and how to turn off or activate the alarm system. It’s also great to include where to find board games or pool toys and even some local restaurant or entertainment options. You will also want to include your contact information and potentially the number of a local handyman in the event of a sudden issue.
The important thing to remember is that you want to make safety and security as easy as you can, for your family and your guests. Along with a great location, it goes a long way to encouraging repeat visitors.