Installing a home security system can bring great peace of mind by helping protect your home and family. But before running wires and setting up cameras, many homeowners wonder: do I need a permit to install a security system? The short answer is – it depends. Regulations and permit requirements for home security systems vary quite a bit across different cities, counties and states. To avoid headaches, fines or obstacles if the alarm goes off, it’s important to check your local laws and possibly obtain a permit before installing your system.
Understanding Home Security System Permits
A home security system permit, sometimes called an alarm permit or alarm license, essentially gives local emergency services and authorities notice that a security system exists at a residence. Permits often require an application with information like the homeowner’s contact details and what company, if any, is monitoring the system.
Having a permit on file allows the local 911 dispatch, police department, and fire department to have your residence’s security system documented for a few key reasons:
- They know a security system is installed and may receive automatic alarms that require a response
- They have homeowner contact information to get details if there’s an incident
- It allows them to track, regulate and charge fines related to false alarms
While permits aim to help coordinate emergency response, they also let municipalities collect revenue through fees and false alarm fines. So in many areas, you’ll need to pay an annual permit fee as well as penalties for too many false alarms. We’ll dig into these costs shortly.
When Is A Home Security System Permit Required?
Do all areas require home security permits? Unfortunately there is no simple national standard, so home security system permit requirements can vary quite a bit depending on where you live. Some areas require permits while others don’t even offer any type of alarm regulation or permitting process.
Here are some of the factors that influence whether you’ll need a security system permit:
- Local city and county regulations – Some municipalities require permits for all home security systems, while others only require them for professionally monitored systems. And some have no permit or licensing requirements at all.
- Monitored vs unmonitored system – Areas that do require permits frequently exempt self-monitored systems without any professional monitoring services involved. But monitored systems usually need one.
- Grandfathered existing systems – Some counties make you obtain permits during new installs, but systems already set up before newer regulations took effect don’t need one.
With such variability between all the different cities, counties and states – the only reliable way to determine if you need a home security system permit is to check with your local police department. We definitely recommend doing so to avoid any headaches or penalties.
Many national home security companies like SimpliSafe also provide guidance on their websites detailing permit requirements by location. Checking their details for your area is another good way to find out if your city or county expects you to have one on file.
The Home Security Permit Application Process
If your area does require an alarm permit or license for home security systems, what’s the process to actually get one?
In most cases, you’ll need to submit an application with details on your system and contact information to the appropriate city or county department – usually the police or sheriff’s office.
Exact application requirements vary, but here are some typical details they collect:
- Address where the security system is installed
- Homeowner’s name, phone and possibly email
- Security system monitoring company’s name and contact info
- Type of security system installed (burglar, fire, medical alert, etc)
- Emergency contact names and numbers
- List of individuals with access codes who can disarm the system
There is frequently a fee just to apply for a home security system permit, generally $20 to $50 paid to the municipality. They may also require an annual renewal for around the same price.
Why Do Areas Require Alarm Permits and Enforce Fines?
If you’re wondering why your area requires home and business owners to shell out annual fees for permits – it comes back to public resources required to respond to incidents.
Having police race out to a home security alarm costs time and taxpayer money – especially if it turns out to be a false alarm. Excessive false alarms also pose public safety issues if they delay real emergencies.
To limit waste and misuse of emergency services, many counties now track false alarms and may charge fees or escalating fines per incident. Common thresholds are:
- First 2-3 false alarms: No penalty or just a warning
- Subsequent incidents: Fines between $50 to $200+ per false alarm
By requiring permits, tracking incidents and charging fines, municipalities essentially enforce responsible security system use. It encourages homeowners and monitoring companies to prevent false alarms as much as possible.
Can You Avoid Needing A Permit?
If you discover permits are mandatory for home security systems in your jurisdiction, there typically isn’t much way around obtaining one – unless you’re willing to take some risks.
But a few options that may allow avoiding permits in some areas include:
- Using a self-monitored security system with no professional monitoring. Some areas only require permits when monitoring services are involved that can dispatch emergency responders automatically.
- Not enabling certain alarm triggers like police dispatch, fire or medical alerts. You frequently only need permits if enabling features that require emergency responses.
- Claiming it’s not primarily functioning as a security system. For example maybe cameras, sensors and smart home devices help monitor deliveries or pets while also providing some security benefits.
However we recommend consulting local regulations first and likely obtaining a permit if required in your region. The relatively small permit fees and potential fines just aren’t worth the risks if your home security devices require an emergency dispatch.
And keep in mind if you ever add professional monitoring services down the road, permits may become mandatory at that point in time. Thinking ahead about potential upgrades or relocations can influence decisions too.
We know permits, applications and fees sound like frustrating red tape when you just want to install some cameras and smart locks around your home. And regulations forcing responsible use of emergency services can feel overbearing at times.
But look at the bright side – permitting and enforcement ultimately aims to ensure security systems function smoothly and safely for both homeowners as well as the larger community. And once you have that permit on file, you can use and upgrade your system as needed without hassle.
Checking whether your local city, township or county requires home security permits takes little effort up front. And obtaining one through your police department, if needed in your area, is usually a straightforward process resulting in years of seamless security system use.
We recommend calling your non-emergency police line or checking county and national home security websites to find out about requirements. It just might save major frustrations if you ever need emergency aid and they have no permit on file. Staying on good terms with local authorities is also smart practice when installing home security systems intended to dispatch police if intruders ever strike.
Contact Callaway Security to learn more about home security system permits in Atlanta and surrounding areas.