Renting an apartment presents a unique challenge when it comes to home security. Ultimately, the best way to stay safe when living in an apartment is to rent one located in a safe neighborhood, but remember: low crime doesn’t mean no crime.
Still, there are some important apartment security tactics you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones when you are renting.
As a renter, your options for adding security are limited. But you might be surprised at the number of easy security measures you can implement, even in a large apartment building or complex. We’ve put together a guide to help you understand what apartment security issues you should consider before signing a lease, plus things you can do after you move in to give yourself top-notch apartment security.
Research the Neighborhood
When considering an apartment to rent — it’s no different than buying a home — you will want to start by researching the area thoroughly before you move in. Besides knowing if the immediate area is safe, you want to find out if the neighborhood where the apartment is located borders any parts of the city that are less safe. High crime rates in some parts of a city can spill over into other areas in the warmer months when criminals are more active.
Your realtor is correct; Location, Location, Location! Before you decide on a place to call home, it’s essential to research the area’s crime rates and talk to residents.
Visit the Area
Get your feet on the ground and explore potential neighborhoods as if you live there.
If the apartment you’re considering is in a building with other tenants, try to speak with them about the area and what it’s like to live there.
Take note of what other kinds of buildings and businesses are adjacent to your home and the amount of noise pollution they produce. Visit at different times of the day, at different days of the week. Browse nearby shops or sit down at a couple restaurants. Some areas may seem quiet and peaceful during daytime but turn into bustling hotspots at night.
It’s also important to take note of the type of street where the apartment is located. Is it a busy city street with a lot of pedestrian and vehicular traffic or is it a quiet residential street? There are certainly busy areas that are perfectly safe, but it’s a good idea to be aware.
As you are walking around check for outdoor security cameras that will deter crime and provide an additional layer of security.
Check online sites like SpotCrime to see what’s been happening in the area crime-wise, and talk to neighbors, police, and local business owners to find out more about the neighborhood before you sign on the dotted line.
If at any point you feel uncomfortable walking around, especially at night, you may want to re-evaluate whether this location is a good place to live.
Check the Apartment’s Access Points for Home Security
While you may like the idea of a first-floor apartment for the sake of convenience, ground-floor apartments are much more likely targets for burglaries due to how easy it is to gain entry.
For this reason, try to be at least on the third floor or higher. Be mindful of all access points to the building (including fire escapes) before committing to anything.
Additionally, take notice of the apartment building’s entry and exit points and their security. Many apartment buildings require a separate set of keys, a remote key fob, or electronic door lock with numeric keypad, providing some protection against strangers entering your building.
The first line of defense in apartment security for renters are the entrances, both to your own apartment and to your building or complex. Check all entrances for secure locks and additional safety measures like peepholes, chain locks, key codes, cameras, and remote unlocking. Ask management how often keys and key codes are changed. You don’t want to run the risk of a past tenant having access to your apartment.
Some buildings have multiple layers of locking doors, sophisticated access control systems, or even security guards on watch 24/7. The more “filters” there are between the apartment lobby and the residential units above, the safer you’ll be.
Apartment Security Tips for After You’ve Moved In
Well, you found it. And have moved into your new place. There are important precautions you can take while you live there to help keep you and your family safe.
Get Renter’s Insurance
If you are renting, it is essential to make sure that you get renter’s insurance to protect your belongings. While renter’s insurance is not a requirement like homeowners’ insurance when you have a mortgage, the protection it provides vastly outweighs the cost.
Despite all the safety precautions you might take, unfortunate events still happen, and it’s a good idea to hedge your bets with renters insurance. Unlike your landlord’s insurance that covers only the building you live in, your own renters insurance will cover personal property like furniture, electronics, clothing, and more that could be lost in a burglary or disaster.
You can purchase a renter’s insurance policy relatively inexpensively and it provides an additional layer of protection against loss of property.
Install a Security System
If your apartment does not come with an up-to-date apartment security system already, we recommend that you have one installed. Today, you can find cost-effective wireless security systems designed for cozy living spaces that are easy to install and simple to transfer to a new home if you relocate.
Many security cameras today are Wi-Fi enabled, and you can control them right from your smartphone. Installing a wireless apartment security system is easy and should not concern the landlord as you don’t need to drill into the walls.
The best places to set up security cameras in your apartment are at the main access points, so usually the front door and maybe one for a balcony or window if you’re near the ground floor. Many wireless cameras will eat up your bandwidth so make sure you have a decent internet plan that can handle the influx of data.
Check Exterior Lighting Around the Building
Burglars often target apartment buildings that are poorly lit to increase the likelihood of them escaping unnoticed. Check around your apartment building to see what kind of lighting is installed.
Are the back alleys appropriately lit with motion-sensing floodlights? Are all lights working correctly? If not, contact your landlord right away to get it fixed.
Replace the Door Locks
A good landlord will make sure that the locks are re-keyed or replaced before renting to a new tenant. If your landlord does not provide this service and you want to do it yourself, ask for approval first before contacting your nearest locksmith. (In fact, this is an important question to ask before renting the unit.)
You can also bolster your apartment security by installing a sturdy deadbolt on your doors if they don’t already have them. Be sure to check with your landlord to make sure that you are cleared to install these as some property management companies may have strict requirements regarding add-ons.
Get to Know Your Neighbors
Getting to know the other renters next to you can be beneficial for many reasons. Having a good relationship with your neighbors usually means that they will keep an eye on things for you when you are away and report any suspicious activity. And you’ll be able to do the same for them.
Apartment living offers you the chance to try out different neighborhood in a city. While security varies from building to building, there are some important steps you can take to find the right building in the right neighborhood.
Whether you are moving into an apartment on your own or with the whole family, doing your research is critical. And it doesn’t take much time between asking a few questions, walking the area, and understanding potential vulnerabilities for the building and your particular unit.
Your safety should be a priority so you can truly make your apartment a comfortable home.
Moving into a new place is exciting, and knowing your new home is secure makes the experience even sweeter. Real apartment security is about doing the small things that make a big difference. Check out the related articles below to learn more about how you can be safer in your new place: