Skip to content

How to make a vacant property look occupied

September 22, 2012

As I recently filled 2 vacancies, I am always looking for new ways to make my vacant properties look occupied. I am especially concerned after I have taken the deposit, but my new tenants will not be moving in for another week or so. I have never had any problems during this time, but my Class C properties always concern me.

Below are some of the ways I have tried to make my vacant properties look occupied.

  • Security sign. These are small metal signs that stick in the front bushes that advertise you have a security system. We have a few of these signs that we rotate around during vacancies.
  • Security system. They also have some self install portable security systems that you can pick up at the box stores. I have never tried these, so I can’t really speak to them.
  • Porch light. As long as the power is still on I leave the front and back porch light on. You could also leave one light on in the house and intentional switch that light from room to room throughout the week.

  • Pull the curtains. Once I get the place rented I pull the curtains and shut all the blinds.
  • Hide your tools, ladders, paint materials, etc. If you are still working on make ready or doing your rehab I try to take everything home at night or stuff all valuables in a closet or somewhere out of sight.
  • Radio. I like to leave a radio tuned to an AM talk station near the back door of the home while it is vacant.
  • Chairs on the porch. Those $5 plastic lawn chairs on the front porch really make a place look occupied.
  • Clothing on the clothes line. A couple of my older homes have a clothes line in the backyard. You could place a couple of old throw rugs over the line.
  • Leave a car parked in the driveway. We have an old truck that we never sold and use it for our rentals. It is a 15 year old vehicle with almost $200k miles on it. I don’t mind leaving it parked in the front driveway of my vacancies during some evenings.
  • Flower pot on the front porch. Something as easy as a flower pot on the front or back porch can really make a place look occupied.
  • Water hose. I have an old kinked up, taped up, water hose that I drag around to my rentals. Leaving these spread out in the yard or even rolled up near the house can make it look occupied as well.
  • Feed the pets. This one I discovered by accident. I went to view a vacant property (HUD foreclosure). As I approached the front door, my HUD key did not work. This sometimes happens so I went to the back door. When I walked up to the back door. There was a little bowl of milk and a small saucer with cat food on the porch steps. I later discovered it was left there by the old lady next door that liked to feed a stray cat in the area. In any event, it really had me fooled – I thought I was at the wrong address.
  • Holiday thing on the front door. A holiday reef, Easter bunny, pumpkin, whatever near the front door can give the occupied look.

I have never had problems during my vacancies, but perhaps it is because I do some of these things. I don’t do all of them just a few when I can. The last thing I learned from a police officer after my grandparents got burglarized many years ago. They left their home for approximately 30 minutes to get groceries. When they came back they were cleaned out. The burglars had been watching them and waited for them to leave. The officer said when you leave your home – Wave goodbye. Even if no one is home, it sure gives the illusion someone is. I like this.  When I leave my rental I always wave goodbye to my vacant property.


From → Landlord

  1. Those are great tips.

    I think leaving the radio on is one of the most effective preventative measures to take.

    You mentioned several things that I never thought of, such as chairs on the front porch, and leaving a car in the driveway. I’m going to incorporate those into my system.

    I especially liked the idea of waving goodbye when you leave.

    You mentioned that you hadn’t tried a security system, but I wonder if it might be just as good to gave some security system stickers in the window (without actually installing a system).

  2. I dont see how the security stickers could hurt. My recommendation would be to tape them inside the window instead of peeling the backing and actually sticking the sticker on the glass. This way you could remove them after the vacancy is filled. I think the bigger decals can look tacky and give the idea you have had security problems.

    I used the radio for my last 2 vacancies. I think a combo of a radio blaring, car in the driveway, and chairs on the porch – someone must really want in there if they break in….

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. What Riles Me Up – How to be a great radio show guest « Fix em Up Rent em Out

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: