Home Security Mistakes that Renters Make

As a tenant, home security is often overlooked because you’re likely living there temporarily. However, it’s a large mistake to overlook your safety. In this article, we’ll show you how to avoid the most common security mistakes (the biggest mistake is #11!):

#1 You’ve Never Checked a Crime Map

As you’re searching for a rental, and once you live in one, you should be aware of local crime. Some rental listing sites, such as Trulia, offer crime maps. As you’re looking at a listing, you’ll see if crime is listed as low, medium, or high in that location.

In the map (shown below) from Trulia.com, you can see low crime areas are green and high crime areas are shown in red:

Crime Map on Trulia

A great resource for staying up-to-date is Spot Crime. You enter your zip code and receive email updates if there’s a crime in a five mile radius of your zipcode.

Receiving updates about crimes can help you stay informed and keep your home more secure. It’s also helpful to be educated about the safety of a neighborhood as you’re searching for an apartment.

#2 You Don’t Have Outdoor Lighting On at Night

Studies show that less crimes occur on well-lit streets.

However, outdoor lighting is often not enough on its own. Outdoor security lighting is effective if there are people to witness suspicious activity.

We also recommend keeping your outdoor lighting on a timer. You should re-set the timer for longer hours if you’re planning on coming home late. Walking up to your front door with lights on is safer than coming home in the dark.

And last, we recommend having motion sensor lights around the perimeter of your rental property. This will alert you if someone walks near your property at night. You can purchase these at home maintenance stores, such as Home Depot.

Just remember, outdoor lighting is helpful, but it’s best when paired with a complete home security system.

#3 You Don’t Make Sure the Exterior of the Building is Well-Maintained 

Burglars tend to scope properties for weeks before intruding and they tend to pick properties that are not well-maintained. If a building isn’t well-maintained then there’s a low chance of the property having a home security system.

Submit maintenance requests to your landlord right away for problems like broken windows, so that your building doesn’t attract burglar attention. And in general, make sure the outside of the building is clean and well-kept.

#4 You Don’t Have a Peephole or an Intercom System 

If you’re expecting a guest, you should ensure you’re opening the door for the right person. Being able to check a peephole or talk to someone through an intercom system decreases your chance of opening the door for a stranger.

If someone knocks on your door unexpectedly, it’s better to be able to talk to them through an intercom system, rather than opening the door right away.

If your rental property doesn’t have a peephole or an intercom system, we recommend asking your landlord if he or she is willing to invest in it. A good landlord will be interested in keeping the tenants and property safe from vandalism, theft, and violent crimes.

#5 You Didn’t Ask for New Keys

When you move into a new rental, you should request that the locks are changed. Not every landlord re-keys between tenants, so it’s best to ask. Having new locks is helpful for a few reasons.

First, it eliminates the chance of prior tenants having access to your unit. Even though tenants typically return their keys, it’s possible they have copies they didn’t return.

And second, brand new locks and keys are usually more secure than older locks.

#6 You’ve Never Checked Your Window Locks 

Windows are a common entry point for intruders. You should make sure that they are locked at all times. Having a rental with newer windows is also more secure. If your landlord hasn’t updated the windows in 25+ years, then it’s likely time for new windows.

#7 Your Sliding Doors Aren’t Bolstered 

If your rental has sliding doors, you should make sure they’re securely locked. Having a security bar, or any additional locks, will make your home more secure.

#8 You Don’t Have Blinds or Curtains

Blinds and curtains ensure that people outside your home can’t look in, especially at night. This helps for a few reasons. Intruders may try to watch and learn your routine if they can see in. Similarly, intruders may be more likely to choose your property if they see expensive belongings, such as a nice TV, inside of your house.

#9 You Don’t Lock Your Doors Every Time You Leave Your Apartment

It’s common for tenants to leave their unit doors unlocked, especially if the building has a locked front door. However, it’s crucial to always lock your door.

It’s often overlooked that a neighbor in your building could potentially rob your apartment.

Consistently locking your doors is your safest bet to avoid an intruder.

#10 You Don’t Have Renters Insurance

Not having renters insurance is a security mistake. After all, it covers damage caused by home burglaries and vandalism, but also fire damage and water damage. It also may cover if someone is injured in your home.

It provides a lot of value at a very low cost, as low as less than $1 per day. Learn why we recommend State Farm Renters Insurance.

#11 You Don’t Have a Home Security System 

The last and most dangerous mistake you can make is not having a home security system. The best option for tenants is Canary– they’re the leading brand for home security and their system is portable so you can take it with you from rental to rental.

Next Steps

The most impactful way to secure your home is to buy a home security system. Learn more about how to pick a home security system.


Also published on Medium.

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