Security Tips For Apartment Renters

You might not own your home, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve your own security. Most apartment renters overlook security concerns, assuming that the landlord will take care of it, or that they don’t need to worry. But unfortunately, that’s not the case.

In 2010, burglaries of residences cost dwellers $4.6 million, says the FBI, and the average loss was $2,119. And it wasn’t all thief-in-the-night stuff — almost 40 percent of burglaries happened during the day. Burglaries happen. So do robberies (17.3 percent of all robberies happened in a residence). You need more than a flimsy door lock between you and the outside world. And speaking of locks.…

Get The Locks Changed

If the landlord didn’t change the locks, any number of previous tenants could be wandering around with the simplest of access to your stuff and your person. You need new locks, and you need them when you move in, especially if previous tenants didn’t leave under the best of circumstances. If it’s a keycode apartment, make sure the keycode’s changed. And be stingy with both your spare key and your keycode. The only people who should be able to get into your apartment are people sleeping there regularly (like your significant other), and possibly your mom. And, of course, your landlord, who will insist on it.

Put Landlord Visits In The Lease

Landlord/tenant law varies according to state — and you should know yours (here’s a guide from Landlordology) — but most require the landlord to give the tenant 24 hours notice before visiting the property. If your state isn’t one of those, you can ask for a clause that requires a 24-hour notice in the lease, and be sure that the clause applies to pest control, maintenance, or anyone else that may be tromping onto your (leased) territory. This at least gives you the chance to be home when strangers meander through your home and belongings.

[If you’re also keen on staying outdoors, check out our Safety Tips For Campers]

Get A Home Security Camera

Preferably one activated by motion, if you don’t have any pets. Make sure it’s in a location that someone coming into the apartment has to pass through, and if you can, invest in a multiple-room, multiple-camera system. This can come in handy if the shady pest control guy gets itchy fingers, or if the apartment hunter your landlord’s showing around is more interested in the goods than the property.

…Or A Home Security System

Check to be sure it’s not against the lease to install one, but remember: apartment renters are not immune to the burglaries and break-ins that plague one-family dwellings. If someone enters your apartment, you want to know about it — and you want the police to know, too. Apartment dwellers could be more at risk than those in single-family homes, because neighbors may notice suspicious activity at a house. But if they’re used to living in the close quarters of an apartment building or community, they may see such activity as normal.

[Check out our security system reviews and comparisons.]

Get Renter’s Insurance

Most major carriers offer renter’s insurance. Insurance cost varies depending on a variety of factors, including your location, income level, and property value. But it tends not to be expensive: the average cost, says State Farm, is around $12 a month for $30,000 of coverage — far more than the average burglary, but far less than potential total fire damage. Most policies also include around $100,000 in liability insurance in case, say, someone is injured while on your property. Specific policy coverage may vary, but all will include vandalism and theft (burglary or robbery). Shop around for the best policy that offers coverage tailored to you and your budget.

Just because you don’t own your property doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be safe. With some simple precautions, you can bring peace of mind to renting, for both you and your valuable stuff.

Elizabeth Broadbent

Elizabeth Broadbent

Elizabeth Broadbent lives in a medium-sized city in the South with her three children, three dogs, and patient husband. She works as a staff writer for Scary Mommy, and her writing has been featured in The Washington Post and on Time.com.

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