Securing A Vacant House

Properly securing a vacant house upon acquisition is your first order of business. As any long-time property investor will tell you, do this one step first. Don’t make it any easier for vandals and thieves to see that your house is unoccupied and ready for the taking.

Do some simple things, such as the following:

  1. Change out locks on your main exterior doors. Change both the regular door lock, and the dead-bolt lock on both the front and back doors. If none presently exist, install new locks right away.

    Former tenants and owners would still have the potential to enter your house at anytime if the locks were never changed, because they might have the old keys still in their possession.

  2. key in lock

  3. Go throughout the house and make sure the windows are secured tightly and locked. If a window shows signs of being tampered with, has cracked panes, or is very loose in any way, better to put up some plywood until a new window is installed.
  4. In the event of any remodeling, install some inexpensive vinyl mini-blinds in the windows so people can’t see into an empty house.
  5. If your new property has a garage, make sure garage door is serviceable (completely close and open) in every way.
  6. Consider putting lighting (interior and exterior) on timers. If lights are left burning indefinitely (in the same rooms), that is a sure sign that no one is living there at all.
  7. It’s always important to keep general exterior clean and tidy, and the lawn cut and trimmed. Keep bushes trimmed and weeds pulled. Pick up trash that accumulates in the yard. These lawn-maintenance actions alone will let others know that the house is being cared for and watched.
  8. Stop delivery any and all newspaper and mail.
  9. Alert trusted neighbors as to what your plans are for the property, and to keep an eye on it for you. Leave your contact information with them. When securing a vacant house, you might also ask the local police department to check on your property (if within their normal assigned areas).

If you’re going to do renovation work of any kind, plan on getting started as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more ‘empty’ your house appears to be, and that is certainly the appearance you definitely do not want to project.