Homeowners often have plenty of questions about home monitoring services when they pick a security system. They want to know about the monthly costs, if it’s worth it, privacy issues, how fast response times are, and plenty of similar questions. But there’s one thing that homeowners don’t usually know about: They need to decide the right permit for their security monitoring.
This hurdle provides alarm installers with an important customer service opportunity, something they can help with to create an excellent impression and ensure that their client is following the law. Our FAQ goes over what installers should know.
What Clients Must Apply for a Permit or Register Their Security System?
Clients who install home security systems that can connect them with local services, like the fire department, need to register their system locally for it to work properly. This helps cut down on the number of false alarms and gives local services an idea of the resources they need and where security systems are most common, among other benefits.
Commercial owners are more likely to be aware of these permit requirements, although they may also appreciate a reminder from their installers. But homeowners in particular may not know they need a permit and may not know how to register their security system properly.
Permit requirements can vary based on local governments, so it’s very important you check the requirements in your county or city. Most will have government websites you can visit to learn more about registering an alarm. If you can’t find any information there, visit the local fire department website or give them a call to ask about permit requirements. Not all cities require residential alarm permits, but most have regulations pertaining to it.
Do All Security Systems Installed in Residential House Require Registration?
No, typically only alarms that can lead to calls to local fire departments or law enforcement. If systems have some kind of monitoring through a monitoring center that can make calls to local services, they probably require registration. If services only alert the owner and allow them to personally contact local services, a permit probably isn’t required (since this is the same as any citizen making an emergency call).
Again, rules can vary based on the city, so it’s always a good idea to check the details and make sure what situations require registration. In our example below, alarms that have an audible siren are also required to have a permit, although not all cities do this.
What Do These Permits Look Like?
Here’s an example of security permits for Dallas, Texas, which can be found on their own website. They in turn link to a dedicated webpage that users can follow to file a permit online, which makes the process very simple. Note that users will have to create an account with the city government and input important information about their address and other personal details. There’s also a paper version to download and send in the mail if clients prefer.
Are There Fees Connected with Residential Permits?
Registration often requires an annual fee, which the city uses to partially fund response services. In Dallas, that fee is $50 annually for a residential user (and $100 for a commercial alarm system).
Interestingly, Dallas adds another provision that’s also adopted by other cities: A permitted alarm system allows three false burglar alarms per year, after which false alarms lead to fines which grow depending on how frequent they are. Security systems that aren’t registered may immediately incur fines for false alarms, which is an additional reason to make sure all new systems get registered.
How Can Alarm Installers Help Clients with Permits?
First, installers should understand the city’s requirements completely. If a client’s alarm system requires registration – usually because of monitoring services, sometimes because of features like loud sirens – installers should notify the client. Otherwise, homeowners may not know they need a permit, and there’s no guarantee that monitoring services will know local regulations or notify homeowners about plans.
Installers shouldn’t fill out permit forms for clients, since they contain personal details. But installers can help out by giving them the right website or physical forms to use, and explaining what needs to be done. If clients are very unfamiliar with the process, installers may want to walk them through basics like setting up an account or explaining what fees they have to pay.
Keep in mind, if clients want to upgrade an existing system and including monitoring services, they may need to register the system even if they didn’t need a permit before.
If your client wants an alarm monitoring service, explain that they may need a local permit and offer to help them register their system. It only takes a few minutes in most cases, clients will be grateful for the help, and your business can benefit from helpful customer service. If you have a locally-oriented website, you can even put this information on a service page to help visitors and drive more traffic.