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The latest in MyAlarmCenter news.

25 Home Security Stats You Need To Know

by CassieMarch 2, 2015

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If protecting your home and the loved ones inside are top priorities, it may be beneficial to know about the potential dangers that are lurking. By being aware, you can make informed decisions and be able to protect the people and things that matter to you most.

 

Here are some important home security statistics that you need to know:

 

Security

1. 81 percent of intrusions occur through the first floor. (source: My Alarm Center)

2. In 2013, there were an estimated 8,632,512 property crime offenses in the nation. (source: FBI)

3. 34 percent of intruders enter through the front door, while 22 percent enter through a back door. 12 percent of burglars enter through an unlocked entrance. (source: My Alarm Center)

4. Property crimes in 2013 resulted in losses estimated at $16.6 billion. (source: FBI)

5. 9 out of 10 burglars avoid homes with alarm systems and said if they did encounter an alarm, they would not attack the home. (source: Yahoo!)

 

Automation

6. About 17.23 million wireless embedded smart home monitoring devices, ranging from contact and motion sensors to smart thermostats and smart plugs, sold in 2013, nearly twice as many as the previous year. (source: iWatchLife.com)

7. By 2016, the home automation market is estimated to grow to $36 million. (source: My Alarm Center)

8. Estimates from research firm Gartner predict that an average home could remotely connect up to 500 things in your home. (source: CNBC)

10. 12 million home automations systems are expected to be installed by 2016. (source: My Alarm Center)

 

Fire

11. In 2013, there were 487,500 structure fires, causing 2,855 civilian deaths, 14,075 civilian injuries, and $9.5 billion in property damage. (source: NFPA)

12. One home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds. (source: NFPA)

13. Each household has a one in four chance of having a home fire large enough to be reported to a fire department during an average lifetime. (source: NFPA)

14. Cooking is responsible for almost half of household fires. (source: USFA)

15. The majority (62 percent) of home fire deaths resulted from fire in homes with no fire alarm systems or non-working fire alarms. (source: My Alarm Center)

 

Flood

16. 70 percent of failures are due to water tanks bursting or leaking. (source: My Alarm Center)

17. Water heater failures cost an average of $4,444 per incident after the deductible was paid. (source: Disaster Safety)

18. Up to 93 percent of the cost of water damage could have been prevented or minimized if an automatic water leak detection and shut-off system had been present in the homes. (source: Leak Defense System)

19. The average cost for repairing flood damage is $15,000. (source: My Alarm Center)

20. The age at which a water heater tank failed due to leaking or bursting was available for 32% of the claims. Water heaters up to 20 years old accounted for 95 percent of these claims. (source: Disaster Safety)

 

Emergency

21. Poor nutrition and malnutrition occur in 15 to 50 percent of the elderly population. (source: Spark People)

22. Over one in every eight, or 13.3 percent of the population is an older American. (source: AOA)

23. Around 28 percent or 11.8 million elderly live at home alone. (source: AOA)

24. One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year. (source: CDC)

25. The number of people aged 65 and older is projected to reach 83.7 million by 2050, compared with 43.1 million in 2012. (source: Health Day)

Share these stats with those you love – because together, we are safer.

If you want more information, check our our handy infographics that feature Fire, Flood and Home Automation facts and stats.

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Three Myths About Self Defense Strategies…Debunked

by CassieFebruary 26, 2015

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Self-defense and knowing the right strategies can make the difference between having the power over your offender or falling victim and becoming powerless. Of course, no one wants to become a victim, so we must be aware of some of the tactics that are circulating, but may not actually help you in this type of situation.

So, here are three self-defense myths we are happy to debunk:

1. Reasoning will work. Talking your way out of a situation may work with like-minded people, but chances are, an attacker does not think the same way you do. Societal norms no longer apply in a situation where someone is trying to steal from you or harm you, so if an attacker has a goal (either stealing or hurting) they will accomplish this by any means necessary no matter what psychological tactics you may try. Instead of reasoning with an unreasonable attacker, reason with yourself and determine an alternative strategy for approaching the situation.

2. Try to block attacks. Most self-defense classes teach how to block an attack from an offender. And while this is good to know, you don’t always have the time to think about how to block a certain attack. As Women’s Health Magazine writer Tim Larkin puts it, “In a threatening situation, don’t worry about what he’s doing; make him worry about what you’re doing.” So instead of contemplating how to block an attack and hesitating to take action, aim to cause an injury to the attacker right away. This way, you will catch him (or her) off-guard without hesitation and by taking control of the situation.

3. Run as fast as you can or back away. In certain situations, this self-defense tactic can actually do more harm than good. Putting distance between you and your attacker can be a good thing if there is a safe place nearby and you know you can get away. However, if an attacker intends to hurt you or is desperate to get something from you, they will come after you, and you never know what they might have (such as a gun or a knife) to accomplish their goal. So, if there is a safe place to run to nearby, go ahead and run, but if not, you might need to fight it out, make as much noise as possible, and work other strategies to get you out of the situation.

To best prepare yourself for facing this potential situation, self defense classes, being physically fit, and always knowing your surroundings are key. And if all else fails, just keep in mind that your goal is to avoid hesitation and take control.

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What The Heck Is Cellular Monitoring? We Explain.

by TammyFebruary 24, 2015

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Ever hear the horror story of a homeowner who was robbed in Philadelphia and the home security system failed because the burglar was armed with a pair of pliers and cut the phone line to disarm it?

While that particular story could be fictional (you know, it happened to a friend of a friend), these stories have some foundational truth and they originated back when landlines were the norm. The idea of a snipped phone line was a real threat since the phone line was the heart of system. In that time, if you had a home, you had a landline. And if you had a security system, it was most likely tied to the landline.

Today, while landlines are still used, the technological evolution has transformed our primary means of communication away from the rotary dial wall phone to a digitized LTE-enabled touchscreen device (or flip phone with keypad if you are old school).

In the 21st century, there is an ever-increasing amount of homes relying solely on cellphones for telecommunications. Now, almost 25 percent of Americans live in homes without a landline, and that figure doubles when looking at the stats that include young adults (25-29). And therefore, security systems have also evolved and no longer rely on the hardwire to operate. Instead, they use cellular monitoring.

Cellular monitoring and cellular monitoring systems are considered the new home security standard. Using cell towers and wireless technology, this type of monitoring system sends signals in emergency situations. But, in spite of some mythical beliefs, cellular monitoring will not affect a cell phone plan. In fact, cellular monitoring doesn’t even require a homeowner to have a cell phone because it uses its own dedicated network to send and receive signals.

In addition, because of the lack of hardwiring, this kind of security system does not require any wires or drilling. With advanced features, homeowners are able to control their home directly from their smartphones – they can arm and disarm the monitoring system, access live streaming video surveillance, control light and temperature, and even get home entry notifications and an archived entry log.

Because of these perks, a cellular monitoring system is an efficient way to protect your home. Whether the landline gets cut or the power goes out, there is still a guarantee that an emergency signal will be sent. And if a homeowner decides that a landline is no longer beneficial or cost effective for the household, it won’t affect the cellular security system.

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Alarm Center Response Times: How Much Do They Matter?

by CassieFebruary 19, 2015

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While researching alarm systems, you may come across a lot about alarm center response time. And while the concept sounds very important (and it is!), you may not quite understand what it means in the context of security systems.

So, let’s break it down and provide a clearer understanding of what this measurement means and how it may affect you as a security system subscriber.

Response time, as defined by the alarm industry, is the measurement of time that the alarm monitoring center processes alarm “events.” This means that when a signal is sent to the monitoring center (e.g., your alarm goes off), the amount of time it takes for the monitoring center to respond and process the event is considered the response time.

When reviewing response times of security companies and doing a side-by-side comparison, it is essential to understand that most companies report and publish an average response time (and the times can range from one just a few seconds to a few minutes). So of course, not every single response will be on the low end, but a shorter response time is better for everyone and it truly is a measurement of concern when reviewing your options.

One thing to keep in mind is that the response time from the alarm center can differ from the response time from authorities; however, these times are not independent. In most cases, a quicker response from the monitoring center will result in a quicker response from the attending emergency teams.

So what affects an alarm company’s ability to respond in a timely manner and why are some security systems offering quicker response times than others?

For the most part, a sufficiently staffed and well-trained force that can handle alarm traffic will result in quicker response times. A response team equipped with the right technology and training will add to the efficiency and keep the response times consistently low. If any of these factors fall below satisfactory, they could potentially create a negative effect on response times and therefore, slow down the process.

 

At My Alarm Center, we have quick response times that average  60 seconds or less and we have the formula to make it happen. We have best-in-class monitoring, a well-trained team, top technology, and 24/7 accessibility, which translate into lightning fast response times. We pride ourselves on being able to quickly alert emergency response teams and get to our customers as soon as possible.

 

While response time isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a security system, it is absolutely one aspect that can make a big difference in a time of need.

 

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9 Tips For Keeping Your Community Safe

by CassieFebruary 16, 2015

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According to the FBI, crime rates in the US have decreased in the past two decades. In fact, in the first half of 2014, burglary offenses dropped 14 percent, motor vehicle thefts decreased by 5.7 percent, and there was a 5.6 percent drop in larceny-theft. While those numbers are promising, we, as community members, need to work to maintain these lower crime rates.

So what can we do?

We can work toward a safer community and consider getting more involved in crime prevention. As a matter of fact, throughout the 90’s, there was an average of a 30 percent decrease in burglaries nationwide due to communities getting more involved in crime prevention.

So, let’s keep is up. Here are nine ways you can get involved in your community to keep it safe.

  1. Join the town watch (or start one) – Join in a town watch program (or get the community involved in one). Knowing the neighborhood’s trouble spots and keeping streets and homes well-lit can deter any possible burglaries. When criminals see a well-marked neighborhood with town watch signs, it makes them think twice before committing a crime. Town watch programs have helped communities experience a 16 and 26 percent reduction in crime compared to areas not involved in a town watch.
  2. Get to know your neighbors – Whether you are going on vacation or heading to work, knowing your neighbors provides and extra set of eyeson your house (and maybe an extra set of keys for emergencies). People care about those they know, so getting to know your neighbors and building relationships provides that layer of community and a sense of wanting to watch out for each other.
  3. Educate kids about bullying – Educate kids on a safe way to help others. Encourage confidence in resolving problems peacefully and not through violence. Make it clear that you expect kids to take action if they see someone being hurt, or if they are hurt themselves. By leading by example, you can teach empathy rather than violence.
  4. Initiate a buddy system – The buddy system is not just a system for kids. It’s less likely a criminal will approach two people instead of one vulnerable person. A buddy can be more than just a walking partner. Your buddy can also make sure that you have everything you need to be safe (from a trip to just that walk down the street). And, of course, a buddy can always be there to call for help in those times of emergency.
  5. Share tips about security systems – If you, or someone you know, decides to install a security a system, be sure that information gets out into the neighborhood. There are a few reasons why this is beneficial. First, knowing that a particular community is equipped with alarm systems will help build a “secure” reputation for your community and hopefully thwart potential criminals from considering that community a target. Second, if a security system has proved to be beneficial for someone in the community, other members might want to look into a similar system and can do a price/capability comparison. Remember, there is strength in numbers so the greater number of community members equipped with security systems, the more secure the entire community will be in the end.
  6. Get involved in local organizations – By getting involved, neighbors become better acquainted and make the connections necessary to keep the community safe. The Bureau of Justice Assistance offers ways your community can get involved and pair with local businesses and organizations to create a safer community.
  7. Create a favorable rapport with local police enforcement – Involve your local law enforcement to get involved in community events. Get to know who they are and respect what they do. By creating a relationship with your local law enforcement, you can communicate community concerns more effectively and become an extension of their force.
  8. Create a Cleaner Neighborhood – Burglars are attracted to unkempt neighborhoods. A community with litter, abandoned cars, and run-down buildings tells burglars that you don’t care about where you live or about your neighbors. Do what you can to control the environment in which you live by starting at home and ensuring your space is clean and clutter-free. To continue the commitment, work to initiate a “clean-up day” and invite your neighbors to join you in keeping your community clean and safe.
  9. Stay current with crime trends  – Knowing what’s happening in your neighborhood and those around you can help you understand the possible warning signs of impending crime. Know what’s happening and be ready to report any suspicious activity to your local law enforcement. Staying up-to-date with the news and crime trends can help your community stay proactive and involved, and out of those dreadful headlines (unless of course it’s to celebrate your awesome clean-up day or community events!).

By focusing on a safer community, you can work toward protecting you, your family, and those around you from falling victim to crimes that could leave your community devastated. By getting more involved or following any other tips mentioned above, you can help lead the way in creating a safer community for everyone.

 

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What Is A Smart Or Connected Home?

by TammyFebruary 11, 2015

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You know the feeling. You leave for work, get halfway to the office, and wonder, “Did I lock the door?” Then, you contemplate your options. You could head back home to check the door or drive to work risking that the door might be unlocked and an intruder could get inside, steal everything you own, and you wind up coming home to an empty entertainment center, gutted house, and a missing dog. That is, unless you have a smart, or connected, home.

The connected home is becoming more common as technology evolves and changes how we live our everyday lives. A connected home is one that quiets all those little worries you have when you walk out the door. Are the doors locked? Did I turn out all the lights? Is the air conditioner still running?

Simply put, a connected home is one that uses the technology of the Internet of Things (IoT) and has home appliances and accessories that are connected to the Internet.

This year at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the connected home showcase occupied a sizeable amount of show floor real estate. Although this category made its big splash last year, this year it evolved from its preliminary conceptual stages and moved deeper into implementation by featuring products that homeowners could consider and add to their homes right away (in other words, the uses became more applicable and prices more affordable).

From automated sweepers to smart locks, the gadgets at CES impressed and overwhelmed. Through the featured products, we discovered that almost anything electric – lights, heat, locks – can be connected to a home automation system, allowing the devices to communicate and be controlled remotely by any array of digital devices (e.g., smart phones, tablets, etc.).

Here are a few categories that are now a part of the expanding world of the IoT and the associated products that are making their way through our front doors.

Appliances. When it comes to appliances, there are refrigerators connected to the Internet and even dog food bowls that can be controlled through a couple taps within an app. Other appliances include microwaves, ovens, and interestingly enough, slow cookers.

Lighting. A connected home can absolutely help you save money and conserve electricity by utilizing the features of smart lighting. With smart light bulbs and corresponding apps, a lighting schedule can be planned so the lights are turned on and off, avoiding wasted energy. The bonus is that you can even create a lighting schedule so you don’t have to install multiple timers into your electrical outlets just to appear as if you’re home while you’re out for the evening or enjoying a vacation.

Temperature Control. And back to saving money, temperature controls can help you save by controlling and regulating your home temperature, even from afar. By pre-setting temperatures and monitoring any fluctuations, you can easily change the temperature through an app, even if you’re across the country.

Smart Locks. To protect your loved ones (and all your new smart home gadgets), smart locks will keep your home locked while allowing you to set specific codes for anyone entering your home. By activating this sort of locking system, you will always know who walked through your front door, what time he/she entered, and through which door he/she exited.

A connected home is a smart home and one that can actually help save money, provide protection, and offer peace of mind. And while we may not have Rosie from the Jetsons (yet) to help us with our chores, with all the new home automation solutions and gadgets helping our homes operate on their own, a real life Rosie could be on the horizon.

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3 Free Smartphone Apps That Will Help Keep You Safe

by AmyFebruary 8, 2015

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We use our smartphones for everything – from accessing apps that organize our to-do lists to using apps that take and edit photos creating perfect selfies. At almost all times, we are equipped with one of the most powerful devices of our time and it’s hardly ever far from our reach. So, why not take full advantage of this technology and use it to stay safer by adding some very useful apps? Whether you are going for late night run or traveling alone for work, knowing that you have a few apps that will help you out in a potentially dangerous situation can give you the peace of mind you need to feel at ease. These easy-to-use, free apps will help if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation.

1. React Mobile. Using GPS, this app can send silent SOS messages showing your location to pre-selected contacts. It can also send group alerts and allow a family member or friend to virtually walk you home. The home screen of the app shows a React Mobile Shield that, when tapped, activates the service and sends an SOS alert with your GPS coordinates via text, email, Twitter, or Facebook. There is also a popup to call 911 if needed, and the only way to disable is by using a cancel-alert code. This app also has a feature called Follow Me, which allows permitted family and friends to follow you via GPS in real-time. To set it up, you can choose an amount of time that it will track you, and then hit the, I’m Safe button when you arrived safely so your friends and family know you are safe and sound.

2. Kitestring. While Kitestring doesn’t use GPS to track your location, it works in the opposite way and is activated by  inaction rather than action, eliminating the need to open an app or press a button. Kitestring is a web-based service that focuses on helping you safely travel from point A to point B. The app periodically checks-in and if you don’t respond, the app will alert the pre-selected contacts. You can also set a duress code, which immediately alerts all your selected contacts if you find yourself in an emergency situation. And because Kitestring uses basic text messaging, it can be used with any phone.

3. Canopy. This safety app lets you map a route, virtually check in to locations, and easily locate nearby emergency services. Canopy allows you to add people to your circle, updating them about a meeting or letting them see your exact location. This function can be helpful during a night out with friends or a weekend business trip filled with meetings. You can invite anyone you trust to your circle, and ignore any invites from those with whom you’d rather not share your whereabouts. In the case of an emergency, the app also has a 911 call button and an emergency alarm feature.

Keep in mind, you should always be aware of your surroundings and there is no substitute for dialing 911 in an emergency. However, it may be handy to have a few of these free apps accessible and at the tips of your fingers during a time of trouble.

And although we hope you never have to use these apps, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Keep yourself safe and give your loved ones a peace of mind by using any of these apps.

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Worried About Winter Weather? Here’s A Winter Weather Prep Sheet

by TammyFebruary 5, 2015

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Winter can put a damper on more than just your mood – it can also dampen your home (in more ways than one). The seasonal weather can be unpredictable with freezing rain and temperatures to blizzards resulting in high winds and double-digit snow totals. So to help prepare you and your home for the unpredictability of the winter season, here is our winter weather prep sheet that provides some ways to protect your home and keep it secure as you simultaneously cross your fingers and hope for some early spring weather. Fire protection. With the cold and freezing temperatures, fires become an increased hazard. One of the best ways to prevent a fire is to install a fire alarm system. Sixty-two percent of home fire deaths are the result of homes without fire alarm systems or non-working fire alarms. To prevent a fire, there are a few more things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t use the oven as a heating device
  • Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy
  • Never leave lit candles alone
  • Keep anything flammable (e.g., curtains, furniture, papers, etc.) at least three feet away from heating equipment
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected and maintained every year

Security. Keeping your home secure is always a concern no matter what time of year and winter is no exception. Installing a home security system can help your home be in constant communication in situations such as power outages. So while setting up booby traps and protecting your home like Kevin in Home Alone may sound like fun, there are a few other ways to secure your home during the winter. They include:

  • Keep doors and windows locked, especially when away from the home and at night
  • Have plenty of exterior lighting
  • Keep a spare key with a trusted neighbor rather than hiding one around your home’s exterior

Emergencies. During the winter months, you want your loved ones to be prepared and have whatever they need within reach. One main consideration is creating an emergency plan, which can lessen the chaos and reduce panic in times of emergency. For those family members living on their own, having a personal emergency response system can help keep everyone informed. Here are a few tips for the whole family to be prepared during winter emergencies:

  • Keep fresh batteries and battery operated flashlights on-hand
  • Keep contact numbers and information easily accessible
  • Have non-perishable food items and bottled water in case of a power outage
  • Keep extra blankets and sleeping bags handy
  • Always have a first aid kit and a supply of essential medicines
  • Have back-up heating equipment
  • Keep track of inside temperatures (elderly are more susceptible to health problems from the cold)
  • Communicate with everyone about an emergency plan (e.g., contacts, routes, meeting spot, etc.)

Water damage. Winter weather and freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your home, especially when it comes to flooding. Water pipes can freeze and cause them to burst or water heaters can malfunction and leak. With the average cost for repairing water damage is $15,000, you want to make sure you can prevent flooding in your home. Consider these steps:

  • Take precautionary measures to prevent pipes from freezing
  • Invest in a flood protection system to alert when something goes wrong
  • Insulate water lines running along outer walls

Additional Tips. Keeping your loved ones and home safe in the winter season are important, so here are a few extra tips to go the extra mile:

  • Bring pets indoors (or provide adequate shelter and access to unfrozen water)
  • Install an outdoor thermometer that’s easy to read
  • Clear away any lingering branches that could cause damage to your home in the event of a storm

While winter weather is not always predictable, listening to the weather forecast, regularly checking your emergency supplies, and following these tips can help keep your loved ones safe and your home secure. For additional information, check out these resources:

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The Benefits of Home Automation [GUIDE]

by CassieFebruary 3, 2015

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Walk into any home improvement store and chances are, you will see a display with an array of product offerings and ways to sync everyday home activities with your smartphone to make your home “smarter.”

With our on-the-go lifestyles, the growing interest in home security, and concerns about protection, having a smart home and access to home automation capabilities are becoming top of mind for most homeowners. Homes using home automation hit 1.8 million installations last year and that number is expected to grow to 12 million systems by 2016. With all these new shiny bells and whistles, it makes sense to take some time and understand what the smart home and home automation can do for you and/or your family.

With home automation, you can control your home remotely with just a few smartphone screen taps. You can remotely control your security system, interior and exterior lighting, internal temperature, and more. So not only does home automation give you peace of mind with the benefit of home security, but it also can save you money and be a convenient way to monitor your home so you never feel you are too far away to protect it.

Here are some highlights of the benefits of home automation.

Save money. Automating your home can save energy (read: money) by controlling lighting and heat settings. A single bulb can last 2.28 years when dimmed at 50 percent, which is 20 times longer than the average light bulb lifespan – so less energy consumption equals longer use. With 56 percent of energy payments accounting for heating and cooling, the total savings accrued by being able to change settings from afar can really add up. Overall, those who invest in a home automation system will save an average of 15 percent on energy bills and 20 percent on home insurance.

Enjoy convenience. When leaving your home for work or vacation, there is always that funny feeling something was forgotten. With home automation, you can put your mind at ease by being able to check on your home and control your garage doors, lock and unlock doors, and check up on the family pet if he/she didn’t join you on vacation. There’s also the convenience of being able to control the lighting, temperature, and doors for the times neighbors may be stopping by to check in or when “housesitters” spend the night.

And of course, while saving money and having the convenience of control at your fingertips are important, no one can put a price on the safety of you, your home, and/or your family. Depending on the amount of security needed, home automation systems can offer everything from remotely locking your exterior doors, to door and window monitoring, and even advanced motion detectors, cameras, and sensors that detect when something is wrong – even alerting you at the sound of breaking glass.

While we know uncertainties are a part of life – from that unexpected flat tire in the midst of a thunderstorm to a potential robbery – the goal is be prepared. And in the 21st century, that means using the technology we have at our fingertips to make life easier and safer.

Consider home automation as part of your security strategy. For more information, review the popular Guide to Home Automation that provides more information about each of these aspects of this technology.

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7 Tips for Safely Renting Your Home

by CassieJanuary 27, 2015

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The Pope is paying a visit to Philadelphia in September 2015 and the city is buzzing in anticipation!

Some Philadelphia residents are considering renting their home to others during the duration of the Pope’s visit. They see the visit as a great opportunity to earn income. With websites like Airbnb making it easy to list your home to out-of-town renters, many people see short-term rentals as an attractive way to raise substantial income.

With this income opportunity comes risk. That’s why we offer you these 7 tips  for success with short term rental of your home during the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia:

  1. Find a good tenant. You can find tenants by placing ads in local community newspapers and online venues. Ask prospective tenants to fill out a rental application (you can find samples online) that lists information like their name, permanent address, employer, income and references. You’ll also want their social security number and signed authorization to check their credit and criminal history. With the applicant’s permission (and even without their social security number), you can check their payment history through agencies like TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax.
  1. Determine how much to charge and what you will or will not include in the rental amount. Get an idea of short term rental rates by calling property management firms and asking for their input. You can also check online resources and newspaper ads that advertise for short term tenants. What you charge will also be determined by the amenities you offer with the rental of your home. It’s generally expect that you provide a clean space, clean linens, towels, toilet paper, microwave, kitchen utensils, internet and access to outdoor areas, in addition to furnishings.
  1. Have a written lease agreement. It’s important to have a written agreement that spells out the obligations and understandings of each party. Make sure your lease agreement is in compliance with Federal and Pennsylvania laws on fair housing, rental, tenant and insurance laws. We recommend you find a good local lawyer to help you with the agreement. It should contain the lease term, security and cleaning deposit amounts, due dates for payments, routine maintenance and upkeep responsibilities, a list of people that will be staying on your property, rules of behavior, pet policies, the circumstances under which you may enter the home when it is occupied by others, your liability concerning renter’s goods, property and safety and eviction terms.
  1. Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. You’ll most likely need different coverage when renting your home to someone than you will if you occupy it, even if for a short period. Keep in mind that these short-term rental policies traditionally provide little coverage for things you leave for the renter in your home…ask your agency about covering the contents of the home as well as your home itself.
  1. Encourage your renters to provide their own insurance coverage. You don’t want to be responsible for renter’s belongings so encourage them to buy insurance (commonly called “renters insurance”). This protects them and you should something happen when they are staying in your home to cause their belongings to be damaged or stolen.
  1. Hire a management company. They can help you find tenants and manage the interactions with the tenant. They can collect rent, handle issues, interact with the tenant on your behalf, and handle arrivals, departures and evictions. These companies are especially useful in documenting the condition of your property prior to it being occupied by the short-term renter. If they help you find a tenant, expect to pay about 25% of the rental amount. Management companies will also charge about 4%-12% of the rental amount for management services.
  1. Expect the best but be prepared for the worst. If the tenant doesn’t leave on time, or damages the property, in most cases you’ll need an attorney to get them out or to deal with the issue. You’ll have to go to court and in most instances the sheriff will need to come to your home and physically remove the renters. It’s wise to make a clear video, date and time stamped, of the condition of the interior and exterior of your home prior to renting in case it is needed to help establish damages.

Philadelphians are looking forward to the Pope’s visit to the city. If you’re going to rent  your home short-term to people during the Pope’s visit, follow these tips for the best possible experience.

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7 Safety Tips When Your Home Is For Sale

June 5, 2014

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