Four Easy Tips to Protect Your Rental Home

This is a guest post written by Angelo DiGangi. If I asked you to imagine the most common example of a home burglary, you'd probably conjure up what you've seen in commercials: a man in a ski mask kicking in your back door at night while your children play in the next room. It is a frightening thought, but in reality, most home burglaries happen during the day when you're at work and your kids are at school, and the most common mode of entry is through the front door. [caption id="attachment_12808" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Photo Courtesy: Eastlake Times"][/caption] Burglars want to spend less than 60 seconds breaking into your home, and they want to rob you when you or your renters are not at home. Additionally, statistics show that burglaries are most common in the months of July and August, coinciding with popular times of the year for family vacations. No one wants to be sitting on a sandy beach on vacation, constantly worrying about the safety and security of his or her home, so what is the solution? Here are four tips on how to protect your rental home and belongings. 1. Get a Home Security System Yes, they can be expensive, but consider this: homes without security systems are about three times more likely to be broken into, according to a Temple University Study. [caption id="attachment_12810" align="aligncenter" width="314" caption="Photo courtesy: James Lander"][/caption] If you do go the home security system route, take advantage of the new technology that is out there. Many alarm system companies have mobile apps (often free to customers) that allow owners to control the system remotely. It can be useful for when you're on vacation, or when you're at work and want to make sure your kids are home from school. You can also watch live video of your house with the app, provided you decide to install security cameras, of course. For those on a budget, an old smartphone or tablet can now double as a security camera, with various app options that will link the camera to your current device. 2. Old-Fashioned Trickery Many people who can't afford a fancy security system decide to fool would-be burglars with a cunning use of signage. Whether it is posting decals on the front door and putting signs in the yard advertising the home security system you don't have, or posting a "Beware of Dog" sign on your fence, it doesn't matter that it's not the truth -- it only matters that the burglar believes it is the truth. While most burglaries occur during the day, electronic timers that turn lights on and off are a time-honored tradition to fool burglars. 3. Enlist help from the neighbors Overflowing mail in a mailbox and two or more newspapers on the lawn are a dead giveaway that you're away and your house is fair game. An easy way to solve this is to have a neighbor collect your mail and newspapers. Just make sure to ask them ahead of time and try to provide a box they can put all your junk mail in, but remember, if you ask them to collect your mail, expect to be asked to return the favor! 4. Create a list of your possessions In the unfortunate event that your house does get broken into, knowing exactly what has been taken can speed up the process of replacing what you've lost. Just don't leave the only copy of it on your home computer. Also, make sure you're completely aware of what your insurance policy covers, your rights as a renter, and how to go about filing a claim. Have you ever been the victim of a break-in? What steps have you taken to prevent another one? Angelo DiGangi has been a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago suburbs since the 1990s and writes on home security issues for Home Depot. Smoke alarms and video surveillance systems are some of the topics Angelo provides advice on for homeowners.