Real Estate Law

How to Secure and Protect Your Home

Home is where we unwind and spend time with our families. If you own a home, buying is likely the largest transaction you will ever make in your life. If you rent, you are not likely to have any bigger monthly expenses.

And whether you rent or own, you deserve to feel safe in your home. To better protect you, your loved ones, and your home, however, there are some steps that you will need to take yourself.

Make Sure You Have Insurance Coverage (Renters Too!)

Even if you take every other step in this article, there are no guarantees in life. If you own a home, you will have to have homeowners' insurance as a condition of getting a mortgage.

If you paid cash, there is no requirement that you have homeowners' insurance, but after paying that much, you want to protect your investment.

Be on the lookout for any exclusions in policies that you are reviewing, and be aware of what that could mean if something happens, such as a flood.

There are coverage options for renters too. Many insurance companies offer renters' insurance that will cover the loss of any of your property should your rental home or apartment be broken into or if a natural disaster strikes.

If your claim is denied, you still have rights to appeal and take legal action if necessary.

Physically Securing Your Home

In addition to insurance coverage that can secure your family financially should a break-in occur, there are several steps to can take to make your home safer.

Secure Your Doors and Windows

The entry points into your home deserve the most attention. It is important that every window has a lock on it. If your home has old windows with flimsy locks, consider replacing them with something stronger. There are also locks that allow you to keep windows partially open but still locked, so no one will be able to get through them.

Additionally, make sure every door has a strong deadbolt lock on it, whether it requires a key or a code. Remembering to lock your house at night and when you're gone will go a long way in protecting your valuables.

Install Outdoor Lighting

It's easier to hide in the dark. Installing lighting that illuminates your house and yard will make it a less inviting target. If you are worried about running up an electric bill, you can install motion-sensor lighting, which will only come on when movement is detected.

Hide Your Important Documents

Many of life's most important documents can be very time-consuming and expensive to replace. Keeping your most important documents in a safe deposit box when you do not need them will keep them out of the reach of thieves. These include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Social Security cards
  • Passports
  • Marriage license
  • Tax documents
  • Financial statements

Securing these documents will help protect your family from the ongoing financial harm that thieves can use these documents to inflict on you through identity theft.

Get to Know Your Neighbors

It truly does take a village. While you don't have to participate in a neighborhood watch group if you don't want to, getting to know the people who live around you will encourage you all to keep an eye on each others homes.

Buy a Security System

There are tons of options out there for choosing a home security system, so there should be some options that fit within your budget. These include:

  • Burglar alarms
  • Doorbell and nanny cameras
  • Mobile phone connectivity so you can check on your home when you're away
  • 24-hour customer service that will also contact authorities when a break-in occurs

For renters, you will want to talk with your landlord about installing a security system. Doing something yourself could cause problems with your lease.

Secure Your Internet Connection

It's also important to remember that thieves don't have to physically break in to your house to get at your belongings. That means doing what you can to keep your internet-enabled devices secure.

You should always secure your home network and consider periodically changing your network password. Also remember to choose difficult passwords for all of your online accounts, which will make it more difficult for people to guess. (Hint: "Password" isn't a good password.)

Make a Plan With Your Family

If you live with anyone, whether family or roommates, you should take the time to talk together about the above steps. Simply making sure someone is always in charge of locking doors and windows when you're leaving the house will go a long way. If you have a security system, make sure everyone knows how it works.

Know Who To Ask for Help

If your children live at home with you, make sure you teach them about dialing 911 and speaking with the police if a break-in occurs. Also, there are companies out there that can look at your house and help you understand where any potential vulnerabilities are.

Pay Attention

While this article covers a lot of ground, it isn't intended to make you paranoid about danger lurking behind every corner. However, break-ins do occur. That means it's important to keep an eye out for unusual or suspicious behavior that you see near your house.