9 tips to protect your home while you’re on holidays

Burglars are opportunistic in their activity; during Christmas, they are on the prowl. Here are some tips to better protect your home during the holiday season.

Check and secure all locks & look like you’re at home

If you have faulty locks on any doors or windows or other entry points, replace them before you head off on your travels. When leaving, double check that all the locks are secured, and have another family member check as well.

Lock the back and side gates, activate your security system and bring the spare key that you have hidden outside, back indoors.

Mow your lawn just before leaving, lock the garage and shed, and keep the second car, if you have one, in the driveway.

Make your home look occupied

Thieves are drawn to dark spaces to hide their activity. Consider installing outside motion detector sensor lights to come on if anyone walks up your path or near windows. Add timer switches to some of your internal lights so they come on automatically for a period of time each night. Adding one to the TV is also a good idea as the noise makes it sound like someone is home.

Monitor your home from your holiday

Modern IP monitored security systems allow homeowners to arm and disarm their alarm system remotely, receive instant notification of security breaches, manage and automate home appliances and visually check in your home. This is a smart (but expensive) way to enhance your home security but may be worth considering.

Cancel the post and deliveries

Having Christmas cards spilling out of the mailbox is an obvious sign no one is home. Think about redirecting or getting a hold put on your mail. And cancel newspaper deliveries, or ask your next door neighbour to take the newspaper off the front lawn.

Carefully discard Christmas packaging

Whilst you may be excited about the new large screen television sitting under the tree, and just as excited to get the bulky packaging it came in out of the house. But displaying the cardboard box it came in, complete with its make and style on the front kerb next to the garbage bin is bait for thieves. The better idea is to rip up the cardboard box into various pieces and place in a black plastic bag before the next garbage collection.

Don’t be too social

While the holidays are a time for us all to enjoy each other’s company, be circumspect in how you share your adventures.

Displaying Instagram photos from New York or checking in to your Facebook account from Fiji lets everyone know you’re not home. Don’t rely on privacy settings on social media to protect your home. Wait until you’ve returned home, then share your holiday snaps. Sell your home in Grand Prairie TX.

Talk to your trusted neighbors

Letting your neighbours know you will be away during the holidays and that they can contact you if anything was to happen to your property is a good idea. If you have a good relationship with them, ask them to keep an eye on your place, bring in your garbage bins after you’ve left and collect the mail.

Check your insurance

Before you head off on holidays it’s worth making sure your home and contents insurance is up to date and paid. It would be horrendous if you were robbed to find out you hadn’t paid your latest instalment.

Secure levels up high

First floor entry points are often easier to access for criminals and they know this. Toeholds such as external air conditioners and window grills can help robbers gain access to upper levels. So make sure all the windows and doors are locked securely.

How protected are your assets

Losing tenants or failing to replace them quickly can result in a painful hit to an investors cash flow. To help protect your assets against this you need to remain competitive. Don’t be tempted to increase your rent above what the market is prepared to pay and ensure that your property is well maintained and includes features that today’s tenants have come to expect.

Your property manager is a great resource and can provide you with all necessary market intelligence and how much your rent increases could be whilst still remaining competitive.

Additionally, to help protect your asset for the future, ask your property manager to provide recommendations and a schedule of jobs worth doing over the next 1-3 years. Enhancements such as installing air conditioning, adding a garage or an outside entertaining area, adding a laundry or re-doing the kitchen may be required to protect your asset, but undoubtedly will require you to budget for the expenses, so having a 3-year plan is important. At the same time your property manager should be able to give you a guide as to the likely payback in terms of rent increases that the enhancements will bring.

Preparing for the future is important to protect your assets

Are your assets structured and insured effectively?

Whilst many of us feel financially secure as a result of owning an investment property, it is important to also consider if it is structured and insured in the right way to withstand any potential nightmares.

Many investors understand the importance of being protected but they fail to take out insurance or to receive the full benefits associated with their policy. Without the correct insurance in place, investors run the risk of losing everything if something goes wrong. For an investor, or for that matter any home owner skimping on insurance is not a good idea.

As an example, if someone was injured or worse at your investment property, and there was a lawsuit brought against you, it is possible that your insurance would not fully cover the amount of the claim. If your investment is owned in your own name, then all your assets can be claimed in the lawsuit including your own home!

Setting up the right structure when purchasing an investment is critical and it is important that you seek advice from your financial planners, accountants and solicitors who have experience with property. They will be able to assess your overall situation and help you implement a strategy that is most suitable to your circumstance and your portfolio.

A quick look at the different structures

If you are planning on owning assets other than investment properties such as your own home, it is advisable to keep them separate as it gives you some protection with claims only able to come against a single property.

The simple way to purchase a property, in the name of the investor which allows negative gearing concessions and is fairly simple to organize. It does however provide very little protection against a lawsuit.

Buying in the name of a company allows the liability to remain with the company, while the shareholders are protected against the banks seizing their personal assets.

The final option is buying in the name of a trust. This can be very complicated, but essentially, if you buy a property in a unit trust then you can apply negative gearing to it because the debt is still in your name and the distribution from the trust becomes income.

Get professional advice

It is important to try and buy your investment in the most appropriate structure as making changes down the track or adding insurance policies after damages, can be very costly.

For this reason, it is critical that you seek advice from your accountants, solicitors, financial planners and insurance specialists before deciding on what is right for your portfolio.

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