Ask LH: How Can I Secure A Holiday Rental Property?

Our family has recently purchased an investment property that will be used for holiday rentals. Given that the property will be unoccupied for extended periods it would be good to have some form of visual/internet-based security. Can Ask Lifehacker suggest how we might do this without invading the privacy of our guests? Thanks, Nervous Landlord

Security camera picture from Shutterstock

Dear NL,

Under most circumstances, the obvious solution for remotely securing a property that isn’t going to be constantly occupied would be a back-to-base alarm system. However, that’s not especially practical for a holiday rental, as you’d need to be confident that each and every person who rented the property would re-enable the alarm whenever they left.

Under the circumstances, an internet security camera you can monitor remotely is a sensible choice. You’ll need a permanent internet connection to make that happen, but that’s a useful bonus for your guests (and yourself if you ever stay there). On that front, make sure you choose a plan with a relatively low download limit, and which uses shaping once the monthly download total is exhausted. Otherwise, a torrent-happy user might leave you with an unexpectedly large bill.

Some thoughts on doing this in a way that protects your guests’ privacy:

  • Display a sign at the front door or in the hallway noting that ‘This property is monitored by security cameras’. That makes it clear what you’re doing, and has the added bonus of potentially acting as a deterrent.
  • Take a lesson from hotels and have cameras in the obviously public areas (the entrance hall, the verandah) but not in areas where privacy would reasonably be expected (the bedroom, the bathroom). That ensures you can monitor the basic state of the property but you aren’t watching everything.
  • Check the cameras before a visit and after, but not while you actually have guests in residence. (I’m assuming you’ll know when the property is being rented.)
  • Either use a live camera which doesn’t permanently record footage, or automatically delete footage every week. That way there’s no permanent record for visitors to become upset over.

Good luck with the property!


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