9 Items to Never Leave Outside Your House

Left unattended, these prized possessions could get damaged, go missing or even hurt someone.

U.S. News & World Report

9 Items to Never Leave Outside Your House

backyard of an old abandonded building in vienna
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(Getty Images)

Put your property inside.

Your home is your castle, and your domain extends to the farthest reaches of your property lines – even if that’s just a few feet from your house. While it may be tempting to leave some items outside your home – for convenience, appeal or simply because you ran out of time to clean them up – you may find that the risks outweigh the benefits. Items left outside can attract pests, thieves or become a safety hazard. Here are nine things you don’t want to leave outside your house.

A man's hand is picking up or returning key under the door mat
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(Getty Images)

Spare house key

Under your welcome mat or that decorative turtle in your garden may seem like the perfect spot to hide a spare key for the kids or in case you lock yourself out, but it’s also easy for would-be burglars to find. Even if you have an armed security system, with key access a burglar can grab the nearest item of value and be long gone before the police show up. Keep spare keys with a family member who lives nearby or a trustworthy neighbor.

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Put your property inside.

Your home is your castle, and your domain extends to the farthest reaches of your property lines – even if that’s just a few feet from your house. While it may be tempting to leave some items outside your home – for convenience, appeal or simply because you ran out of time to clean them up – you may find that the risks outweigh the benefits. Items left outside can attract pests, thieves or become a safety hazard. Here are nine things you don’t want to leave outside your house.

Spare house key

Under your welcome mat or that decorative turtle in your garden may seem like the perfect spot to hide a spare key for the kids or in case you lock yourself out, but it’s also easy for would-be burglars to find. Even if you have an armed security system, with key access a burglar can grab the nearest item of value and be long gone before the police show up. Keep spare keys with a family member who lives nearby or a trustworthy neighbor.

Bicycles

More than 184,000 bicycles were reported stolen nationwide in 2016, according to the FBI, and it’s likely many more went unreported. As you would lock up your bike outside a business or school, you need to secure it when you’re home. An ideal spot is in the garage, tucked in a corner inside the house or in a backyard shed to protect your bike from rain and snow that can cause it to rust and your tires to lose air.

Kids' toys

Cleanup time may be the hardest part of ending an active day outside with the kids, but it’s a necessary step to prevent future problems. Rain-soaked toys can grow mold, serve as a breeding ground for pests like mosquitoes and break down faster over time. If a passerby trips on a scooter left on the sidewalk, you’re potentially liable for damages. Or if a stranger swipes some rollerblades or a baseball glove, the toys are likely covered as personal property under your homeowners insurance, but they're not pricey enough to file a claim. “The question is whether it would fall below the deductible,” says Jim Taylor, head of claims compliance, quality and customer experience for Farmers Insurance.

Packages

A lonesome package on your stoop is an easy target for thieves. In November 2017, InsuranceQuotes reported that 25.9 million Americans have had a package stolen around the holidays – the time of year people are most likely to receive package deliveries. If you can’t be home to receive the package, inquire with your employer to see if delivery to your office is OK. Alternatively, you can opt to pick up packages ordered through Amazon at an Amazon Locker location. Set the nearest locker location as your delivery address, and you’ll receive a code to open the locker once the package has been delivered.

Indoor furniture

Everyone loves an outdoor living setup, but that doesn’t mean literally bringing your living room furniture outside. Upholstered furniture meant for inside isn’t equipped to handle outdoor weather and can mold, break down or even become the perfect nest for rodents and other pests. “It’s not designed to be out in the elements, to be in the wind and the rain and the different seasons, so there could be deterioration, wear and tear, rot that happens to that furniture,” Taylor says.

Trash

For a number of reasons, it's important to keep the yard free of trash or other belongings you no longer care for. “Many [insurance] carriers have conditions in the policy regarding appropriate maintenance of dwelling and the personal property,” Taylor says. “If there’s a rotting couch sitting in front of your home and the insurer goes to conduct an inspection for underwriting eligibility, that could be an indication – along with if there was excessive debris or appliances outside, trash piled up – of a lack of pride of ownership, and a potential hazard that the insurer may not want to accept.” Plus, piles of trash outside will likely irk your neighbors and can lead to fines from the homeowners association, city or county for violating debris ordinances.

Electronics and appliances

Not every electronic or appliance left outside is trash – in some cases, you may simply be looking to improve the outdoor living aesthetic with a TV and decent sound system. But most standard electronics and appliances are not fit to endure extreme heat, cold or precipitation – and when exposed to the elements for long periods can easily become garbage. While there are products made for the outdoors, including TVs and refrigerators, they’re often still unable to withstand everything Mother Nature will throw at them. Most outdoor TVs are recommended for shaded spots – to avoid the heat of direct sunlight – and many refrigerators function best when temperatures don’t dip below freezing.

Your pets

While it’s not as common of a practice as in previous decades, keeping a dog chained up outside or letting a cat roam the neighborhood is still the norm for some pet owners. Animal rights organization American Humane warns against leaving a pet outside when you’re not there to supervise. Outdoor cats are more likely to contract diseases and be exposed to the dangers of aggressive animals, traffic and parasites. Additionally, American Humane says a dog that stays outside all day doesn’t get the care most dogs need. “Abandoned, but chained up, backyard dogs cannot move to comfort, shelter or companionship,” American Humane says on its website.

Unsecured hazards

An in-ground swimming pool and trampoline aren’t items you can exactly bring inside at the end of the day, but it is important you secure access to these major toys to prevent someone from getting hurt. “If that trampoline is sitting out and it’s not fenced in, anybody could walk in off the street and start bouncing up and down on the trampoline. That could potentially create what’s known as an attractive nuisance,” Taylor says, which is something that makes it easy for passersby – kids, in particular – to put themselves in harm’s way on your property. To avoid this, fencing a trampoline or pool make people less likely to be in danger on your property.

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