Real estate investors and landlords trying to lease vacant properties may be making a few mistakes that could turn those properties into magnets for vandals. According to a report from, investors who are not planning for long-term vacancies can quickly fall victim to vandalism because their properties are not as secure as those that may be vacant for long periods of time. For example, homes that are simply locked but not secured in a more extensive manner are ideal targets for thieves who want to steal and sell copper tubing that is often present in the walls and plumbing systems in newer homes. This can create multiple problems for landlords: not only is the process of ripping the tubing out of the wall extremely destructive, but if the water has not been turned off in a property the owner will likely face extensive water damage as well.

Perhaps not surprisingly, when it comes to vandalism and vacancies, certain cities with extremely high vacancy rates tend to suffer disproportionately to the rest of the country. For example, at the end of 2016, Flint, Michigan, had a 7.1 percent vacancy rate across all residential properties, and one in every 10 properties in Michigan overall were vacant according to ATTOM Data Solutions. According to City-Data, Flint’s property crimes rate is 91 percent higher than the rest of the state of Michigan, which is likely due at least in large part to the high vacancy rates in the area.

To combat potential vandalism in properties with short-term vacancies, take some steps to discourage thieves and vandals who realize that short-term vacancies usually have little more security than just a locked front door:

  1. Put some lights on timers to discourage the appearance that the home is untenanted
  2. Make weekly, unscheduled visits to the property
  3. Consider installing a smart-home monitoring system or alarm system that will alert you if the property is unlawfully entered.

About the Author

Carole VanSickle Ellis is the editor-in-chief at Think Realty Magazine. Learn more about the publication and other member benefits at

  • Carole VanSickle Ellis

    Carole VanSickle Ellis serves as the news editor and COO of Self-Directed Investor (SDI) Society, a membership organization dedicated to the needs of self-directed investors interested in alternative investment vehicles, including real estate. Learn more at or reach Carole directly by emailing

Related Posts


Submit a Comment