Protecting Vacant Rental Homes

Hello everyone!

Great site and input from everyone. For everyone on here with posts in the hundreds and even thousands, thanks so much for sharing so much of your knowledge and real life experiences.This is my first post so I have a lot of catching up to do. :biggrin

My question is about vacant rental homes in higher crime areas. How do you protect your property(ex: new AC unit) from being stolen or vandalized when it’s vacant?

I will give you an example of what I have in my mind and hopefully you can give me your thoughts and even expand the subject if you think it would help me or anyone else. Ok here it goes.

The idea is to buy a home and renovate it for Section 8 so that it would pass inspection and rentable. Once it is ready to go, if it takes me a few weeks or even a couple of months to find my first tenant, what are ways to protect my newly renovated property. I can picture a stolen air conditioner, broken windows, stolen doors, etc.

I ask myself if I am being overcautious but all I have to do is remind myself of my own prior experiences. When my father and I were building our own home several years ago, we had to borrow a camper and take turns sleeping on the construction site after doors and windows started being stolen during the night. This was in a much better area than the homes I will be renting so I would only imagine I would have worse luck in a higher crime area.
Sorry to ramble. :rolleyes
I look forward to hearing you suggestions and ways to avoid this type of thing.

Thanks in advance!

I do several things in vacant buildings to protect them. I leave a light on and a cheap radio playing. I also have a couple of those cheap wireless alarm systems that I will put in during the rehab. More importantly, I keep the grass mowed and put in those alarm yard signs to advertise that the property has an alarm. I also always put those cheapo mini-blinds in all the windows so that people can not look inside. In addition, I don’t leave tools or a lot of materials on-site. Finally, I try to talk to the neighbors (if any are homeowners) and ask them to call me if they see anything bad happening at the property.

Good Luck,


I like the idea of getting a small B&W TV (doesn’t use that much electric) and leave it on so that when people go by your house at nighttime they can tell that a TV is on (by the light changes showing in the window)…That obviously means that somebody is home…

You also need to go to your house as often as possible, preferably daily if feasible, so that there’s “activity” there…And change which lights you leave on each time you go over…

And you might want to take out the A/C units until the unit is rented if you’re that afraid of having them taken…You can always leave them in the house and show them to prospective tenants when they come over, but I never have appliances or A/C units in any of my lower rental houses…I don’t want to deal with the maintenance/damage/theft, and never had any problem renting due to the tenant needing to bring their own…You might want to think about that if it would work in your area…

Thanks a lot. You both have some great ideas that I will be implementing. I’ll keep you posted on my success. :biggrin

Winter is coming, which means vacant properties are always in danger of having the furnace break down. No one knows when a furnace breaks on a vacant property so pips freeze and burst. If you are planning on having the property vacant for a while, then you will want to have the plumbing winterized.

That’s a great suggestion. I’ve seen the results of that, and it isn’t pretty.

Even if you live in a warm climate it can be a danger. Like when I lived in Vegas and it went down to 11 degrees one night. Many homes had burst pipes after that!

Did it look like this?:


LOL…My guess is they didn’t call AAA to tow the cars out.