It’s smart to be safe

A responsible landlord will want to help ensure the safety and security of their tenants. Even if your property is situated in a safe area, a home security system can provide peace of mind to a renter that their belongings are protected. This makes your property more desirable to prospective tenants and may also have the added benefit of reducing the premiums on your property insurance.

Modern security systems can connect to a hub, smartphone or tablet and can communicate with and control many elements in the home, including door and window sensors, locks, cameras, and more. This means homeowners can monitor their property and activate these elements remotely, for instance if a property is unoccupied for any period of time. Security systems are also a strong deterrent to potential intruders, who would rather avoid being caught.

Smart home security systems can be as basic or advanced – from DIY versions which can be self-installed, to professionally-installed wired-in systems, such as those provided by SafeSite Security Solutions, which alert the authorities when triggered.

Wireless v wired

Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of wireless and wired home security systems.

A wireless system is cheaper to install. However the initial cost of the hardware is higher than wired versions. Wireless systems also incur slightly higher running costs as they require batteries which need replacing around every two years. The main control panel also requires a back-up battery change approximately once every five years.

Hard wired alarm panels and devices are typically cheaper to buy, but there’s also the additional cost of the cable, cable clips, trunking and of course the installation. Wired systems are usually more expensive in a domestic property due to their complexity and time involved routing and hiding alarm cables.

There’s no battery replacement cost with a hard wired alarm system except with the main control panel and external siren which, like wireless systems, need the back-up battery changing around every five years.

Installation time with a wired system is much longer, approximately two days for a four-bed detached home. For the same sized property, a wireless system will take around five hours.

Aesthetically, there’s not much difference in the look of the two systems. However wireless systems are cleaner and not as disruptive to install so tend to look neater once finished.

Hard wired systems use cables to connect the control hub to each device. This means there could be visible trunking or cables around door frames and skirting boards.

When it comes to the potential of false alarm, there’s not much difference between the two types of system. In decades past, wireless intruder alarms would false alarm more than hard wired, but technology has improved since then. Both are similarly pet friendly as well, and can be installed with pet friendly motion sensors.

Performance-wise, both systems must conform to EN 50131 British Standards and therefore work as well as each other. A control panel will alert the user to low batteries in a wireless system to avoid any issues there.

Where a wireless system really comes into its own is with changes or additions i.e. if a property is being renovated. Adding additional sensors, if you are building an extension, is a simple and clean job with a wireless system, but can be more complicated with a wired system.

The same goes for temporarily removing part of the system. You shouldn’t attempt to do this with a wired-in system; call a professional.

Make a point of instructing your tenants about how to use and maintain the security system and, if possible, tailor the system to their requirements and lifestyle.

Systems of the future

Smart security systems are already a huge growth market and a real selling point to prospective tenants. One advantage is that they can send alerts when the tenant is away from the property and the security system can be controlled and monitored from a smartphone. Some can be connected to voice control, so residents can ask Alexa or Google to arm the system, unlock doors or even change thermostat settings with just a spoken command.

Modern smart systems can also have a monitoring contract, which means a nominated keyholder or the police will be alerted if the alarm goes off. Some companies also offer alarm maintenance, while 24-hour monitoring offers peace of mind.

Some of the more sophisticated systems can even use IFTTT (If This Then That) applets (small apps). Residents can create these applets to carry out a series of actions, for example if they open the garage door, an outside light is automatically triggered.

Surveillance systems are also growing in popularity for rental properties. Whether that’s just one security camera or a full security system, modern surveillance methods can connect to a home’s Wi-Fi for easy monitoring from a phone or tablet. Most have built-in motion and sound sensors and send push and email notifications when triggered.

A smart security system or integrated surveillance system gathers a lot of data. This needs to be stored somewhere. Cloud systems are growing in popularity as they’re a safer alternative to on-premises servers. They can mean fewer software issues, reducing the chance of faults in the system.

There are many innovations in the home surveillance market. These include integrated systems, infrared/thermal cameras, artificial intelligence surveillance and even drone detection and protection.

Tenants may, understandably, be worried about the presence of surveillance technology.

Reassure them that, in the UK, landlords are governed by EU legislation when it comes to installing surveillance equipment. CCTV can be installed to protect properties but not if it “interferes with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household”. Make it clear upfront, and in the tenancy agreement, what security measures you intend to make.

With an ever-increasing range of home security options available, you can tailor a system that protects your property and meets your tenants’ needs.

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Daniel Peacock.

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