An alarm system gives tenants peace of mind, makes your property stand out in a competitive market, and adds value so you can charge more for rent.
Consider adding alarm systems to your rental properties.
If you don’t want to install an alarm system yourself, allow your tenant to install one. In this case, it’s better if your tenant installs a wireless system, but you can also work with a hard-wired system.
This article will provide some best practices for installing an alarm system and describe the types of basic alarm systems.
Tips for Alarm Systems at Rentals
1. Know the Access Code
You keep a key to your rental property for the following reasons:
- To enter your property in case of an emergency
- To get in after property abandonment
- To make needed repairs (after giving notice)
- To show the property for sale or re-rent (also after having given proper notice)
You should have the access code to an alarm system for the same reasons.
If you’re installing the alarm system, you’ll have the code. Let your tenant know that if they change the code, they’ll need to tell you what it is. If they install a system, let them know you need to have the code, too, and explain why.
- Tenants’ Rights when Selling an Occupied Rental Property
- Lock Lock, Who’s There? The Rules for Changing Locks
2. Teach Your Tenants How to Use the System
If you install the alarm system, teach your tenants how to use it to minimize false alarms. When the alarm goes off, a message is sent to emergency responders. False alarms waste everyone’s time, and the alarm company could start fining you if there are too many false alarms. If tenants understand how to use the alarm system, there should be fewer false alarms.
3. Have a Clause in Your Lease
Whether you decide to install a security system yourself or if you let your tenants install one, you should have language in your lease that addresses the security system. Here is a sample lease clause from Contract Standards for allowing a tenant to install an alarm system:
(a) Tenant Installation. Subject to applicable Laws, the Tenant may install, at its sole cost, a separate security system for the Premises (the “Security System“).
(b) Landlord Approval. The plans and specifications for any such system will be subject to the Landlord’s reasonable approval.
(c) Landlord Contact and Access. The Tenant shall at all times provide the Landlord and any applicable fire or other emergency response personnel with
(i) the necessary codes and/or keys to disarm the Security System, and
(ii) a contact (available on a 24/7 basis) who is familiar with the functions of the alarm system in the event of a malfunction.
(d) Removal of Security System. Upon the expiration or earlier termination of this lease, the Tenant shall remove all of those portions of the security system installed by Tenant in the Premises and repair any damage to the Premises and Building caused by its removal in accordance with this lease.
Types of Systems
If there’s already a pre-wired security system on the premises, you probably want to take advantage of it. Your tenant can use the provider that installed the equipment and then activate the system. Your tenant could also go with another provider since the wiring has already been done. A new control panel might need to be installed to get it activated.
If there is no security system in place, a wireless system works better for renters. There is no installation (complete with drilling of holes) to worry about. And if your renter sets up the wireless system, they can simply disconnect the system and reconnect it in their new place after they move.
Types of Monitoring
The original way to contact the monitoring center once the alarm was triggered was through a landline. It’s a reliable system, but there are a couple of problems with it: People don’t have or use landlines much anymore, and thieves can cut phone lines to disable the system.
You can now communicate with a monitoring center through the internet. This is typically the cheapest monitoring method, but if your internet goes down, you’re out of luck.
3. Cell Phone
You can also communicate with a monitoring center through a cell phone. This is the most advanced and widely preferred method. But if you can’t get a reliable cell signal at your property, this option is out.
Which Security System to Buy
SafeWise, an independent review and comparison website, compares security systems and makes recommendations about the best security systems. They chose five top alarm systems based on price, customer service, installation, cameras, automation features, monitoring fees, and mobile access. Here are the top five picks for 2016:
- Frontpoint (rated 9.1 out of 10)
- ADT Monitoring (rated 8.4 out of 10)
- Link Interactive (rated 8.2 out of 10)
- Protect America (rated 8.1 out of 10)
- Vivint (rated 7.5 out of 10)
An alarm system can give tenants peace of mind. Do you include this in your rental units, and if so, which one did you choose? Share your thoughts in the comments below.