The Development Services Department’s Alarm Administration division administers the City of Austin’s Alarm Ordinance, issues alarm permits, and strives to improve public safety through education and awareness initiatives aimed at eliminating false alarms.

 

Alarm Administration Portal

 Apply for an alarm permit, pay fees, and more. 

Apply for an Alarm Permit

The City of Austin requires an alarm permit for each alarm system activated within a residence  or commercial space within the Austin Police Department’s jurisdiction. 

Apply online through the Alarm Administration Portal, complete an Alarm Permit Application Form (PDF), or call 512-974-5730 to register by phone.  

Mail your completed application to City of Austin Development Services Department, Attn: Alarm Administration, P.O. Box 1088, Austin, TX 78767, or email it to dsdalarm@austintexas.gov

Cancel an Alarm Permit

An alarm permit can be canceled when the system no longer meets the criteria for a permitted alarm system per the ordinance or the permit holder moves from the address. Outstanding fees and penalties, not including renewal fees, must be paid, and written notice is required for cancellation. 

Complete an Alarm Permit Cancellation Form (PDF), or send a message to Alarm Administration at dsdalarm@austintexas.gov or P.O. Box 1088, Austin, TX 78767.

False Alarms

Police respond to thousands of false alarm calls every year. These unnecessary responses are costly and dangerous because they divert police, fire, and EMS resources from actual emergencies. There are easy steps you and your alarm dealer can take to prevent false alarms.

Know the common causes of false alarms:

  • User error
     
  • Unlocked or loose doors
     
  • Children, neighbors, maintenance/repair workers, or cleaning crews
     
  • Balloons, plants, or curtains caught in drafts
     
  • Pets or other wildlife
     
  • Equipment malfunction

Before you activate your alarm system:

  • Make sure anyone who uses the system is fully educated on its proper operation. This may include domestic/cleaning crews, children, neighbors, caretakers, and temporary staff.
     
  • Make sure you securely close and lock all protected doors and windows.
     
  • Keep pets, balloons, fans, heaters, etc. away from motion sensor areas.
     
  • Know and rehearse the process to cancel an accidental alarm. Anyone with your key should know this process.
     
  • Know how much time you have after you arm your system to leave and to disarm your system when you enter.

What to do if you set off your alarm accidentally:

  • Don’t panic. Carefully enter your disarm code to reset your system.
     
  • Wait for your alarm company or central monitoring station to call and give your password or ID card number.
     
  • Do not leave your home or business until you have talked with your monitoring station. Post the number by your control panel. If you don’t hear from them, call and cancel the police dispatch.
     
  • Do not call 911 to cancel alarm activations. You must call your monitoring station.

More false alarm prevention tips:

  • Train anyone with a key or access to monitored areas on complete system operation, including children, neighbors, employees, maintenance and repair workers, and cleaning crews.
     
  • Always keep doors and windows locked when the alarm is in an “on” mode to reduce the chance that friends, neighbors or customers enter and cause the alarm to activate.
     
  • If you have pets, take special care to purchase an alarm system that is tolerant of pets. You may not want to purchase motion detectors if your pets have free run of the house when the alarm is on. Also, sometimes barking dogs can activate glass break detectors.
     
  • Be aware of common triggers that can set off motion detectors in your home or business, such as balloons: banners or signs; plants or curtains caught in drafts; stacked items, such as boxes, that may fall.
     
  • Review with your alarm company the procedures that you expect them to follow when your alarm activates, including any special instructions like (e.g., attempt to contact more than one person before requesting emergency dispatch, or only notify police if both exterior and interior zones are activated). Put your instructions in writing.
     
  • Have a maintenance contract with a licensed alarm company and have your alarm system checked every year.
     
  • Notify your alarm company if you:
     
    • Plan any home improvements or renovation projects, such as changing phone systems, the configuration of a room, adding a wall, rearranging cubicles, installing skylights or ceiling fans, or even fumigating;
       
    • Plan to change your alarm system batteries causing an interruption in your systems power supply; or
       
    • Acquire a pet or will have guests or workers in your home.
How to Appeal a False Alarm Charge

Please read these instructions and guidelines in their entirety before you complete an Appeal Request Form (PDF). NOTE: Appeals are only granted to alarm users with existing permits. Non-permitted users are not eligible.

Request an Appeal Hearing

  1. Gather facts, documents, and/or records to prove the alarm was generated by a permitted alarm system (e.g., copy of the active permit for the alarm site) and one or more of the following:
     
    • Alarm was true and not false (e.g., copy of the police report confirming a break-in or robbery); 
       
    • Alarm did not occur at your location (e.g., copy of a police report, alarm company activity report showing no alarms occurred on the incident date, and/or letter from your alarm company indicating no request was issued to dispatch Austin Police Department); 
       
    • You were not the owner of the property at the time of the false alarm; or
       
    • Site is not within the Austin Police Department jurisdiction and, therefore, the City of Austin's Alarm Ordinance does not apply to the site.
       
  2. Complete an Appeal Request Form (PDF) and send it, along with all supporting documentation, to City of Austin Development Services Department, Attn: Alarm Administration, P.O. Box 1088, Austin, TX 78767, or email it to dsdalarm@austintexas.gov. NOTE: Submit the completed form and supporting documentation before the 10th day following the mailing date of the notice.

What Comes Next

  1. Alarm Administration will review the Appeal Hearing Request and supporting documentation.
     
    • If a hearing is granted, a hearing date and time will be selected for you. Alarm Administration will notify you by email.
       
    • If a hearing is not granted, Alarm Administration will notify you by mail and/or email and provide an explanation.
       
    • If you are unable to appear on the designated date and time, Alarm Administration must be notified in writing. To reschedule for the next available day, send an email to dsdalarm@austintexas.gov or a letter to P.O. Box 1088, Austin, TX 78767. Notice must be received at least five (5) business days prior to the scheduled hearing date. 
       
    • If you do not send notice within the specified timeframe, you will lose the opportunity to reschedule and be responsible for the assessed fee(s).
       
  2. At the appeal hearing, you will be allotted 15-20 minutes for the hearing at which time you may present any relevant information specific to the status of the alarm incident. 
     
  3. A written decision will be mailed to you within 60 days of the appeal filing date. The decision of the hearing officer is final.
     
  4. Any fee(s) associated with the hearing officer’s decision must be paid within 21 days following the date the final decision is mailed or emailed to you.

An appeal hearing will not be granted if the alarm was activated due to any of the following reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Caretakers who watch homes or businesses when owners are away
     
  • An occurrence where no evidence of criminal activity is present
     
  • Alarm activation which occurs while alarm technicians are repairing or servicing the alarm system
     
  • Glass break detectors which activate due to noise/sound other than actual glass breakage
     
  • Door and/or windows that become loose and cause a break in the contacts which activate the alarm
     
  • Alarms caused by apartment management employees
     
  • Faulty, defective or malfunctioning equipment supplied by the alarm business
     
  • Improper installation or maintenance by the alarm business
     
  • Improper monitoring by the alarm business
     
  • Improper use by the alarm user
     
  • Mistake made by private contractors, housekeeper, cleaning crew, etc.
     
  • Items within the home or business which move causing motion detectors to activate (e.g., curtains, signs, balloons, etc.)
     
  • Pets, rodents, and/or wildlife
Fees and Penalties

Alarm Permit Fees

Type of Permit FY 2021-2022 Term
Residential (New or Renewal) $50 12 months
Business (New or Renewal) $110 12 months

False Alarm Fees

 

Burglary Calls

Up to 3 Calls in 12 Consecutive Months 4-5 Calls in 12 Consecutive Months 6-7 Calls in 12 Consecutive Months 8 or More Calls in 12 Consecutive Months
No Charge $50 each $75 each $100 each

Robbery/Panic Calls

Up to 2 Calls in 12 Consecutive Months 3 or More Calls in 12 Consecutive Months
No Charge $100 each

Late Payment Fee

$5 per month

Penalties for Operating an Alarm Without a Permit

  • $220 for each response to a non-permitted location 
     
  • Operator is subject to Class C misdemeanor charges
Forms and Applications

Alarm Permit Application Form (PDF)

Alarm Permit Cancellation Form (PDF)

Appeal Request Form (PDF)

Other Questions?

Check out our frequently asked questions. If you need additional support, call us at 512-974-5730 or email dsdalarm@austintexas.gov.