If you’re unfamiliar with Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED), the basic premise is that “proper design and effective use of buildings and public spaces in neighborhoods can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime,” according to the National Crime Prevention Council. This can direct neighborhood design, helping developers create a safer community. It can also direct the security efforts you take with your rental property.
You can use the following fundamental design ideas to drive safety at your rental property:
- Practical access control (doors, fences)
- Surveillance (lighting, windows, landscaping)
- Territorial reinforcement (signs, sidewalks, ordinances)
- Maintenance (code enforcement, community clean ups)
When you use boost rental security in this way, you’ll also improve curb appeal and landscaping, making it a win-win for you, your tenants and the community. Use these landscaping upgrades to bring CPTED to your rental property.
Upgrade (or install) outdoor lighting fixtures
Mounting torch lamps in the front yard is both a decorative and functional means of exposing would-be trespassers. Without the cover of the dark, burlars may be less likely to make time for your property, for fear of being seen.
When installing, position the light fixtures away from areas that cause shadows or glaring, so they can illuminate the entire property after dark. It’s also a smart idea to elevate them high enough to inhibit tampering.
Finally, the most effective options for security lighting are high-intensity and motion sensitive discharge bulbs—in particular, metal halide or high-pressure sodium (HPS): “The HPS bulbs emit a yellow to orange light, while the metal halide bulbs emit a blue to white light,” according to Angie’s List’s Outdoor Lighting Guide.
Keep the shrubs and bushes trimmed
Overgrown shrubbery is not only an eye sore, but creates a convenient hiding place for intruders, allowing them to gain access through first-floor windows. When you trim the property’s bushes on a regular basis, you also “increase visibility of the yard, so neighbors will be able to spot suspicious activity,” suggests security experts at Phoenix Lockmaster.
If you want to add new plants to the property, consider the following defensive options:
- Washington hawthorn
- The pyracantha
- Rose bush
Leave space between trees and windows
Tree branches close to the second-story windows or overhanging the roof can present a safety hazard because intruders might climb a tree in order to reach these entry points: “Look closely at upper-floor windows. If there’s a roof, ledge, fire escape or ladder nearby…remember that you need to secure those windows,” says former FBI criminal profiler Gregg McCrary.
Besides keeping them locked, ensure there’s several feet of space between the tree limbs and windows or roof. Consistent pruning is essential for your trees as well, otherwise burglars have direct access to a vulnerable area within the home.
Create boundaries around the perimeter
Installing a fence around the whole property to enclose it from street-view makes the property both more private and secure. When choosing a fence, note that the most resilient and safest materials are wood, aluminum or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and the recommended height should be about six to eight feet.
In addition, Protect America suggests that the fence has “sufficient locking mechanisms” and padlocked gates, no exposed crawl space underneath, and “spear tops, razor wires or anti-climb spokes” to deter any trespassers from scaling over your fence on the outside.
Pave around the entryways with gravel
Thieves are attracted to the front lawns that allow them to move across quietly, without drawing attention to themselves. To discourage would-be intruder from encroaching on your space, cover the ground near any windows or doors with gravel: the loud crunch of their footsteps will cause a burglar to search for another target, suggest experts at Houzz.
A successful break-in requires the elements of silence and unpredictability. Not to mention, gravel is an aesthetic feature that upgrades curb appeal.
The yard is your property’s first line of defense against potential threats. Configure and design the landscape to serve a dual purpose of beauty and safety. Integrate these simple tips to give yourself and your tenants peace of mind.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and is now a professional freelancer and consultant. She's worked with a variety of real estate clients and publishers, and has been featured on Forbes and Market Watch. She’s also an author for Inman, House Hunt Network, Homes.com and more.