Updated: Feb 26, 2019
According to an article written by Laura Mueller on moving.com here are 10 tips on how to keep yourself safe when renting.
1) Ask your landlord to install locks on any first floor windows
My Lincoln Park apartment had its own entrance from the outside, with a small hallway that led to my front door. There was a transom window above my front door, as well as a larger window in the hallway that led to my landlord’s carport. One morning I woke to the transom window open, a clear set of fingerprints in the dust. The window to the outside was open as well.
Fortunately, unless the person who had broken into the front hallway was child-size, they weren’t getting through the transom window. But this did nothing to allay my deep terror that someone might break into my apartment. So I asked my landlord to nail both of those windows shut indefinitely-which, thankfully, he did.
For more practical windows, like the ones you may actually want to open at some point in time, a simple lock is easy for your landlord to install and can grant you not just safety, but a whole lot of peace of mind. Locks should be placed on any first floor windows, as well as windows that are accessible from the outside, such as those overlooking a balcony or stairway.
2) Ask for a new lock on the front door
When you move in, request that any doors leading to the outside be fitted with new locks. You likely don’t know the previous tenant, nor who they gave copies of the keys to. It’s possible that you may have to cover the cost if your landlord won’t do it him or herself, but it’s a small price to pay for assurance that you know exactly who can enter your living space. You may want to request a deadbolt or chain lock as well if there isn’t one in place already.
3)Get a dog
The night my transom window was opened, my own dog, a small but mighty Beagle/Terrier mix, was sleeping at my sister’s since I was heading out of town the next day. Had she been there though, I have great confidence that any movement near the front door would have sent her into a frenzy. A dog is similar to an alarm system in that they’ll alert you to someone trying to get in. They’ll also deter intruders who are just looking for an easy job.
4) Install a streaming camera
One of the best purchases I’ve made for rental security was a small, circular camera that I put on the mantel in my living room. The camera enabled me to see what was going on in my apartment when I wasn’t home simply by streaming through an app on my phone. It also recorded any instances of movement so I could look back on them later. Cameras like this will set you back a couple hundred dollars, but they’re incredibly useful for keeping track of what’s going on when you’re not home. And if something happens, you’ll have easily accessible footage of the incident right on your phone.
5) Explore rental-focused home security systems
While you can’t install a wired security system, you do have other alarm options specially designed for apartment security and the like. Consider a door stop alarm, an inexpensive, battery-powered device that is activated when a door is opened. In addition, some major security companies, such as ADT, offer home security for renters with wireless systems. They’re transportable so you can bring them with you when you leave, though like wired systems, they do require a contract.
6) Don’t let anyone in who you don’t know or aren’t expecting
In the modern world, when strangers may be coming by to deliver everything from your Amazon packages to your groceries to that smoothie you ordered from the shop down the street because you were too lazy to go pick it up, there are a lot of unknown people that may be showing up at your door. And while your first instinct may be to welcome them into the foyer as you grab your wallet for a tip, be more precautionary and interact with them outside only. It’s okay to be a little impolite sometimes if it means keeping yourself safe.
The same logic applies to handymen. If your landlord hasn’t expressly told you that a certain person is coming by and when, don’t let someone in just because they claim they were sent to fix something.
7) Install outdoor lights
Make sure your rental property is well-lit leading up to your front door. At my own apartment, I wrapped outdoor string lights around the banister leading up the staircase to the entrance. You can also look into battery-powered pathway lights or lanterns. You can choose to have the lights on all the time, or, if you’re trying to conserve energy, for them to come on with motion activation.
8) Make it look like you have more security than you really do
Some white lies are truly for the greater good. You can easily give any potential intruders the impression that your rental is well-secured with a fake security company sign affixed to your front door or window or a fake security camera (with blinked red light, for added measure) mounted above your front door. Most burglars won’t have any idea that what they’re looking at is a fake, or they simply won’t want to take the risk.
9) Out for the night? Give the illusion that you’re home
A home sitting dark is a much easier target for a burglar than one where there appears to be activity going on. If you know you’ll be gone for a while-and especially if you’re heading out of town-you may want to install a simple mechanical outlet timer. These can turn on everything from lights to music to TVs at automated times. It’s a super simple way to give the appearance that someone is home and alert, even if you happen to be thousands of miles away. Just be sure to keep the blinds closed, lest the potential intruder tries to get a better look.
10) Get renter’s insurance
While it’s not a security measure, renter’s insurance will at least cover the costs if something does happen in your home. And at a relatively nominal price per month, it’s worth looking into just as a back-up plan. In addition to covering costs in the event of a home burglary, most renter’s insurance plans also cover other catastrophes, like water damage, fire damage, and vandalism. Some plans even cover any thefts that take place in your car, provided it’s parked at your rental property.
Safety precautions are important no matter where you’re living. Follow a few-or all-of these tips to be more secure in your rental property, and if you do feel something is off, never hesitate to call the police for assistance.
Credit goes to moving.com written by Laura Mueller.