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When you live in an apartment, you have some unique considerations regarding security. You'll likely be living in close quarters with other tenants, so it's typical to experience a high degree of foot traffic as people go in and out of their apartments. Shared common spaces may also pose unique security issues that renters should be cognizant of. Apartment security best practices will help you stay safe, also avoiding property damage or loss.

Before Moving In
  • Before you sign a lease on an apartment or condo, research the area, surrounding neighborhoods, and communities. Check local crime rates to learn about statistics to make sure any neighborhood you're considering is relatively safe. Call your local law enforcement to ask about crime rates.
  • Talk to current tenants to learn about daily life in the community. Is it quiet or noisy? How responsive is the landlord to tenant concerns and complaints?
  • Is there an on-site landlord or manager for the community?
  • Explore the walkability of the neighborhood. Can you walk to nearby shops, parks, and restaurants? Does the neighborhood feel safe? Is it well-lit and adequately maintained?
  • Check the general entrances and common areas of the apartment buildings. Are they locked at all times? Is there a doorman? Explore elevators, laundry rooms, mail areas, storage areas, and parking lots. Are they well-lit and secured to prevent access to everyone?
  • Are there motion detectors installed around the community that will detect movement and illuminate areas during the nighttime hours?
  • Look for the presence of security cameras in common areas such as parking lots and hallways.
  • Check for adequate and working smoke alarms.
  • Observe the overall maintenance and upkeep of the community. Check for issues such as broken windows and water stains on ceilings. Examine the maintenance of lawns, sidewalks, building exteriors, hallways, pools, community rooms, exercise rooms, and more to make sure the landlord performs basic upkeep of the community.
  • Confirm that apartment locks have been changed since the previous tenant vacated. Try the peephole on your door to make sure it works. Check window locks to make sure they work.
  • Find out how packages are delivered to keep them secure until tenants retrieve them.
  • Do tenants park on the street or in a parking lot? Is underground parking available? Is there a place to park and lock bicycles?


Daily Living
  • Keep your doors and windows locked whenever possible. If you have a sliding patio door, keep it secure with an inside bar lock or by placing a sturdy pole on the track. Even if you don't live on the ground floor, be aware of window and patio door security. Burglars have been known to access upper apartments through windows and patios.
  • Always use your intercom system (if available) before allowing visitors access to your apartment building. Use your peephole and always ask for ID before opening your apartment door.
  • Watch your windows. Install privacy blinds and keep them closed to prevent outsiders from looking in your windows. Blackout shades are another helpful item to consider purchasing for your windows. Blinds and shades help keep people from peering into your apartment to see the possessions you own.
  • Notice where the fire escapes are located so you can find them easily in an emergency. Fire escapes should be stored properly above the ground for tenants to use in an emergency but to prevent intruders from using them to gain access to apartments.
  • Buy a fireproof safe, and use it to hold your valuables such as important documents, passports, jewelry, and more. For the most security, your safe should be bolted to the floor. Check with your landlord about this.
  • Introduce yourself to your neighbors and get to know them, if possible. This will enable you to recognize strangers, if they appear.
  • If you notice strangers, cautiously observe them. Be ready to call the police regarding suspicious strangers.
  • Avoid using your laundry room alone and at off hours.
  • Consider a security system designed for renters. Some security systems are especially designed for apartments and condominiums.
  • If you go on vacation, use an automatic timer to make your lights go on during the evenings so people think you're home.


Insurance
  • Check with your landlord to find out how you might be covered by an existing insurance policy in place. Be aware that your landlord's policy might just cover the apartment building and not tenants' belongings, though.
  • Ask if you can add a renter's insurance policy to your rental agreement.
  • If your landlord can't provide a renter's insurance policy, buy your own policy to protect yourself against property damage and loss.
Article written by Lexi Westingate
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