The Complete Apartment Security Guide

While renting an apartment often comes with a lot of perks, it also comes with a higher risk of break-ins and home intrusions. Often the security in apartment communities is not sufficient to keep you and your family safe. That is why looking into adding your own security system is crucial.

There are some great advantages when you live in an apartment community. You can get access to amenities like gyms and pools, which are nice features when you are renting. But you also need to make sure that you have all of the security you need to keep you and your family safe.

There are things you should consider when you are looking for a new apartment to move into. While you may be focused on the number of bathrooms, it is also important that you don’t overlook security. By following these steps you can better assess the level of security you need before you sign a lease.

The first and most important thing you can do to make sure that the location you are interested is safe is to observe everything. While you may like the look and the location of the apartment, you should make sure that you are reviewing everything.

You should always check your surroundings, that includes the grounds, stairways, walkways, parking lots, building entrances or apartment entrances. You want to make sure that the property is well lit and that elevators and stairs are easy to access.

It is also a good idea to check areas where an intruder could hide, like laundry facilities. If you see something that concerns you, you may want to continue your search. You should never feel like your personal safety is at risk in your apartment or in the community.

Here are some additional tips that can help you evaluate the apartment community before you move in.

Assess Your Surroundings

When you are asking about an apartment you are interested in, most good sales people aren’t going to quote crime statistics. That is why you need to do the research yourself.  You can research online at sites like Crimemaping.com, Spotcrime.com, and CrimeReports.com to see if any robberies or other crimes have been committed on the property or in the area.

You can also talk to the local police department. Or ask tenants who currently live near the apartment that you want to rent.

Check to Make Sure The Property is Well Kept

While your new place may look great when you do the walkthrough there are some things you should look for before you move in. If you see things like water stains, broken windows or damaged drywall, you may want to reconsider. You will also want to make sure that basic maintenance to the landscaping and walkways is taking place regularly.

How the landlord or property manager takes care of the community will give you insight into how seriously they take the security of all of their tenants. If you don’t think they care about the property, it may be a sign that you need to keep on looking.

You will also want to make sure that your new place is well lit. Typically someone that means to do harm to you won’t want hide in plain sight. So if you have areas of your community like hallways and entrance ways that aren’t well lit you should address immediately that with the landlord or property manager.

If they aren’t willing to repair or add new lights in places like your stairways or laundry facilities you may want to consider looking for another place to live.

When you take a tour of the apartment there are some things you should be looking for:

  • Does the main door have a peephole that you can see out of clearly? If not you should ask if one can be added. Opening the door without knowing who is outside presents a clear a security risk.
  • Make sure that entry to your building is secure. You should ask if there is a key code or key to the exterior doors.
  • Request that the locks in your new apartment be replaced if they haven’t been already. And while many apartment communities may rotate locks, you should ask for a new lock. If someone trying to break-in or rob an apartment knows that locks are rotated, they could use a key that could open your lock.
  • Check all of the window locks to ensure that they are secure and cannot be compromised. People who want to break-in will find a way, it is your job to make sure that you don’t it is not easy to do so.

Check for Ways to Escape in the Event of an Emergency

There are two reasons you want to check on emergency exits, the first is pretty obvious, you need a way to get to safety in the event of a fire or other emergency. The second reason you want to check on how your emergency exits operate is to make sure that no one can use your way out to safety as a way in to rob your apartment or worse.

If you have fire escapes make sure that the ladders aren’t accessible by someone trying to break in. Once you feel confident that the community you live in is safe there are still a few things that you will want to do after moving in.

  • Make sure that all of the sliding doors are secure: one of the most tempting options for someone trying to break-in is a sliding door. Most of these doors don’t have locks that are sufficient enough to keep an intruder out. In addition to always keeping the doors locked, you should also place a pole into the track. There are also stick on locks that can prevent the door from being opened.
  • Buy better blinds: most of the time the blinds provided by your landlord or property manager aren’t the most secure. If you are at street level investing in blinds that can block out any view from the outside. This can keep your home safe by closing off access to someone who is trying to see what is in your apartment.
  • Add a few locks: while you most likely have a deadbolt on your door, you can also look at adding a few more locks. Adding a chain lock will keep someone who is trying to force your door open from being successful. If for some reason you main door doesn’t have a deadbolt, you should add one as soon as possible.
  • Buy renters insurance: while the property you live in may be protected by insurance your valuables are not. You can usually get a decent renters insurance policy for less than $20 per month. This policy will protect your personal belongings and replace them at full value. Renters insurance can also protect you should any damage occur in your apartment.
  • Purchase a safe: adding a safe can help you keep items of value safe from an intruder who has broken into your apartment. You can buy a decent safe for around $100. But buying a safe isn’t enough, you will need to place the safe in a location where someone cannot find it. You can also talk to your property manager about securing it to the floor or wall which can make it harder for someone who is trying to steal it.
  • Add a home security system: apartments are at a higher risk for a break-in, which means even if you do everything on this list you may still find yourself coming home to find your valuables are gone. There are some solid options when it comes to adding a home security system for your apartment that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Don’t share your vacation plans or photos until you are home

Social media is awesome, and I get the need to make all of your friends jelly by forcing them to look at you on a jet ski or kite surfing. But you can do all of that when you get home. Sharing your pictures while you are away will let anyone and everyone that follows you know that you aren’t home.

So unless you want to put up a giant virtual billboard that lets people know you aren’t at home, just wait a bit and share them from your apartment. You want to come home to an apartment that hasn’t been broken into.

Our Top Security Picks For Renters

Frontpoint – Our #1 Pick

If you are looking for great customer service, Frontpoint is a great way to protect your apartment. If you commit to a 36-month agreement you will get $300 off the price of the system and they have some of the best monitoring systems around.

As long as you keep your agreement you can move the system to a new location should you need to move. Because FrontPoint is 100% wireless, it is easy to set up and requires no tools or skills. Which if you are me, is awesome. I love technology but I am not the handiest of girls.

In addition to being completely wireless, Frontpoint also provides their monitoring services using a cellular connection. Which means you will never lose service, even if your wireless connection or power goes out.

When it comes to equipment, you own it. And as the owner of your equipment, you can pack it up and move it whenever and to wherever you want. You also don’t have to pay a fee to get your security system delivered, it will arrive within days of you signing your purchase agreement and making payment.

And should you hate everything you were sent, you have 30 days to return it and get all of your money back, Frontpoint will even pay for you to ship it back to them. But should you want to stay, there are some other pretty sweet benefits that you can take advantage of for the price of on the house.

Yep, you get some free things. You will get fire, carbon monoxide, flood and life safety monitoring and you won’t have to pay anything additional to get it. Yay for free things!

What we would like to see them do better…

While there is a lot to like about Frontpoint there are a few things that we think they could improve upon. Like their three-year equipment warranty, we are seeing more and more lifetime warranties on equipment even when you purchase it outright. It would be nice to see Frontpoint extend their warranty period.

Another thing we like is more than one contract option. While you can take the system with you wherever you go, what if you just don’t like it. If you are outside of the 30 day period you will find yourself paying a pretty hefty amount to end your contract.

Simplisafe – Our #2 Pick

Another system that we like for renters is SimpliSafe, it is a fully wireless DIY home security system that has a professional monitoring option. They are also free of any contractual obligations. So you can end your service at any time without the fear of a large cancellation fee.

If you fear a system that is DIY because the last time you tried to install something it ended up with you getting a concussion (which happened to me), I can tell you that even I could put together my SimpliSafe package. And if I can do it, you can absolutely do it.

There are several packages that you can choose from, which is great if you are currently living in a smaller apartment. Each package will provide you with the equipment you need to keep you and your belongings safe.

One of the things that used to be missing from SimpliSafe’s equipment lineup was a camera. SimpliSafe recently addressed that by adding a night vision camera that comes with a built-in motion detector. It is currently in Beta Release, but to know that you can add it is something to look forward to.

SimpliSafe has two options when it comes to their professional monitoring service. Both provide 24-hour protection and a cellular connection, and neither one requires a contract. The contract thing is kind of a big deal, as it is not often that you can find a professional monitoring option that doesn’t tie you in for at least twelve months.

What we would like to see them do better…

One thing that hasn’t seemed to change, outside of the addition of a new security camera, is the way SimpliSafes devices look. They continue to look cheap and plastic. While most of the devices we use are plastic, there is something dated about the way most of their devices look.

We also wish that SimpliSafe’s devices would integrate with other third party devices to allow users to build a home automation system that includes their devices. And we wouldn’t mind one bit if they improved their mobile apps.

Some suggestions for your new apartment

Having lived in an apartment for a while, I am happy to share with you.

  1. Make sure that you always secure your patio doors, and never leave anything on the patio that you don’t want to be stolen. But if have some things that you want to get rid of, by all means, leave them out.
  2. If you meet someone who lives in your building, no matter how attractive they are, don’t date them. Should your relationship end, you will see them all the time. And worse you may see them with someone else. So my advice is to save yourself the heartache and just be friends.
  3. Add a stronger lock to your patio. Especially if you are on the ground floor.
  4. You should get to know the people who manage and maintenance the property that you live on. This allows you to know when someone unfamiliar may be at your door so you can contact the rental office to confirm they work there.
  5. Check every exterior door to make sure its locked before you leave your apartment.
  6. If you don’t already have one, create a social media site where you can connect with your neighbors and share things that may be suspicious.
  7. Buy sensors that allow you to turn your lights on and off from a smartphone app to make it look like you are home when you are away.
  8. Check everything, and then check it again before you move in, you don’t want to miss something that you may regret later.

Moving into a new apartment, especially when it’s your first home is an exciting time. And while it is easy to get excited about buying furniture for your new place, you should also take the time to evaluate the level of security in your apartment. You need to know that the property is well kept and secure. You should never rent a place that you don’t feel safe living in.

You should look for surveillance cameras, and check the lighting on walkways and building entrances. You should also make sure that there are cameras and proper lighting in laundry rooms and other common areas where you could be at risk.

And last but not least you should add a security system, you can find options that are affordable and apartment friendly. Apartments are one of the first targets for intruders, which makes adding additional security a must.

Jennifer Kelley is an author and technology blogger. She feels weird writing about herself in the third person, but does so when asked. A graduate of The Ohio State University she is a dedicated football fan and a total dork who loves all things written. You can follow her on twitter @theonlyjen

Home Security List