I can only imagine a few things worse than waking up in the morning and discovering the unexpected – you've been robbed! You may feel violated, and then angry…and then confused. You might think, "Who would do this, and how did it slip right under my nose?"
If this has ever happened to you, don't feel bad; it can happen to anyone – at any time. According to the FBI's most recent property crime report, nearly 8 million homes reported property crime offenses in the U.S. in 2016 alone, and that includes neighborhoods where the crime rate is very low.
I've rented since college and haven't had an issue with my safety, or experienced a burglary in any of my apartments. I am always careful to lock the front and patio door before going to bed. But, I did slip up recently. I was so exhausted I fell asleep on the couch and forgot to lock the door! Luckily, I woke up in the middle of the night to get water and noticed the door was unlocked. Since I've never lived alone before now, I felt scared and anxious - and immediately locked the door. I couldn't believe I had put myself at risk like that, especially because I consider myself very cautious and aware of my surroundings.
After my personal safety lapse, I began to wonder what additional security measures I am allowed to take at my apartment complex. I don't technically own the place, so what can I do besides lock my door? I found out there are security measures I can implement in and outside of my apartment to help ensure my safety – and I wanted to share them with all the fellow renters!
Get to know your neighbors and landlord.
Being familiar with your surroundings is very important. By knowing who your neighbors are and what they look like, you'll be able to identify someone who shouldn't be near your property.
Add extra locks to your doors and windows.
Always secure all points of entry into your home when you arrive, and before you leave. If you are not comfortable with the current locks on your door, install additional hardware on your doors and windows after receiving permission from your landlord. If you have a sliding door, keep a solid bar in place that will prevent the door from opening.
Install an apartment-friendly security system.
When I think of a security system, I only consider those active in single family homes, not apartments. But there are actually security systems made specifically for apartments! These cameras and motion detectors do not require drilling holes, so your security deposit will be safe. Like most security systems, you can control them on your smart phone or computer to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior.
Practice intercom security.
If your apartment has an intercom system, be cautious if you get a buzz, and weren't expecting company. Experts say it's better to leave your name off the intercom system because then, burglars won't have as much information to work with. Never buzz someone in without talking to them first. If you don't know them – don't allow them to enter the building!
Use a security checklist before signing the lease.
Write up a checklist and go through the apartment to make sure it's up to your standards. Be sure all the locks and windows are functioning properly. If you have a storage unit outside or connected to the unit, make sure it's secure and ask your landlord if they will provide a new lock for you. Also confirm that the landlord has changed the locks since the previous tenants. For an official checklist you can print off, use this one provided by the National Crime Prevention Council.
Don't leave anything exposed on your property.
If you have a porch and a patio, do not leave any valuables outside. This provides easy access to burglars, who can quickly take the valuable and run. I suggest also shutting blinds on your windows while you're away – you don't want to expose valuables you have inside your home, either!
Purchase renter's insurance.
Help ensure your items are protected with renters insurance! If you do have the misfortune of experiencing a burglary in your apartment, a renter's insurance policy can cover possessions that were stolen after paying a deductible.
I hope you feel a little more confident knowing there are extra precautions you can take when it comes to your apartment and security. If you live in a single family home, read our blog on how to keep your home safe from break-ins.