Whether you’re renting an apartment or own one and are looking to get tenants in, one common question faced by both groups is how to make your apartment more secure. Apartments are not the same as houses and come with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. This article will take a thorough look at apartment security for both renters and owners covering what to look for, what you can do to improve security, and how to go about it.
Security aspects to look for when apartment hunting
For a renter the most important time to consider the security of an apartment is before you move in. You should keep security top of mind when viewing an apartment and be sure to ask the owner or rental agent about any issues you may foresee. Once you have signed the lease and taken occupancy it becomes a lot harder to get the security upgraded. Don’t be afraid to raise issues, landlords understand that tenants need to feel safe and any security upgrades they make will ultimately improve the marketability of their property.
Security cameras aren’t just there to find out what happened after a break in. They also act as a deterrent for thieves. Burglars are on the lookout for easy targets and clearly visible security cameras might be enough to ensure they don’t see your property as a soft target.
Having security guards or a doorman in an apartment complex, greatly reduces the chance of a break in. These individuals often know all the tenants of the block, so they are able to spot someone who doesn’t belong before they can commit a crime.
Upkeep of apartment complex
This is usually the domain of the body corporate, but it is important to see if the grounds are well maintained. If you see signs of neglect in the building it is a red flag that other maintenance might not be done and this could lead to security issues.
Whether it is a doorman as mentioned above, or an electronic access control system, it is important to ensure the apartment block only allows people in who have a right to be there.
A well lit space is a safer space. Make sure the apartment has adequate lighting and no dark areas that could conceal a criminal. This refers to lights on the exterior of the property as well as hallways, stairwells or other shared spaces.
Crime statistics of the area
Do your homework. Take some time to do some research on the area. Is it known for criminal activity? What are the socio-economics of the area? You can look at official law enforcement crime statistics or ask on local Facebook groups, but always make sure you know what type of area you are moving into.
Up your apartment security after moving in
So, what if you’ve already moved in and have realized that you have some security concerns? While it is true that this does make upgrading security more complicated, all is not lost. There are a number of ways you can upgrade your security without having to rely on the kindness of your landlord. Please just note that if your upgrade involves any permanent change to the condition of the apartment that you should seek your landlord’s permission before installing it.
Upgrade locks on doors
Statistically, most home invaders enter through a door, so upgrading the locks is a good way to make an apartment more secure. There are a number of ways you can do this including changing the lock to a more robust design, or installing complementary locks such as chains or deadbolts. Another option is to get a lockable door latch, such as LockLatch or PetLatch. These devices have the added bonus of securing your door while allowing you to keep it slightly open so that fresh air can enter your apartment. A device like LockLatch is ideal for apartments that struggle with adequate ventilation.
Upgrade locks on windows
After doors, windows are the next most vulnerable entry point in your apartment. While windows on higher floors are generally safer than those on the ground floor, this isn’t always the case. Criminals have been known to climb over from adjacent balconies or in some instances scale the side of a building so it is imperative that you don’t leave these windows unlocked. If your window can’t be locked it may be worthwhile to invest in a window lock. Once again LockLatch or its sister product MiniLatch is a really great product as they are designed to be easily fitted onto apartment windows and give you the option of leaving your window slightly open to let fresh air in.
Security locks for balcony doors
As we mentioned above balconies are one area where a burglar may gain access to your apartment. In spite of this, these doors often don’t have adequate security as owners are lulled into a false sense of security thinking the balcony can’t be reached. No matter if your balcony has a traditional hinged door or a sliding door LockLatch can ensure that it is secure. The C-304 stainless steel arm means the size of the opening can be adjusted for ventilation, and closed completely if the weather is bad.
Invest in a safe
A safe is a great way to ensure your most valuable items are secure even if someone does gain entry into your apartment. While a safe that is secured to a wall or floor is the safest option, you will need to get permission from your landlord. Alternatively, a standalone safe also provides a neat option, by making it harder for a burglar to remove it from your property.
Get renters insurance
In the unfortunate instance that someone does break into your apartment and steals some of your belongings, renters insurance can go a long way to softening the blow. It will obviously not be able to replace anything of sentimental value, but most burglars are looking for things such as electronics and these can always be replaced.
Get to know your neighbors
This is one of the best pieces of advice we can give you. Having a trusted neighbor who can keep an eye on your property and will contact you if anything is amiss can give you real peace of mind. It is important to get to know your neighbors, so introduce yourself when you move in.
Permission required when installing apartment security products
As we mentioned a few times above, tenants should seek their landlord’s permission (preferably in writing) before installing any security upgrades, this also applies to devices such as LockLatch. This is to ensure that you don’t lose part of your deposit when moving out. Most landlords will be open to these suggestions as they want their tenants to feel secure, and lease for a long time, rather than having to find new occupants regularly. They might even offer to pay for or contribute to the upgrades although they aren’t obligated to. Security upgrades, if done right, can also increase the value of the property which is to the benefit of the owner.
Who is responsible for apartment security?
Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure a safe living environment for their tenants, what this constitutes will vary from state to state and even city to city. As either a landlord or a tenant it is important that you familiarise yourself with the local laws, in some areas it is required for a landlord to install deadbolts, lighting and window locks to make the property more secure. It is the tenants responsibility to report any issues to the landlord and these may relate to security -, things such as broken windows or faulty locks need to be reported so the landlord can take measures to have them repaired.
What responsibility to security does a property owner have?
A landlord has the responsibility of ensuring the apartment is safe for their tenants. This extends to maintenance and repair of the property, if a break in occurs and a landlord has not fulfilled their obligations they may be held criminally liable. It is also the landlord’s responsibility to adequately screen all tenants including background and criminal history checks.
Who is liable for repairs should a home invasion occur?
If you are the victim of a break in or burglary, the next question you may ask is who is responsible for repairs. The short answer is “it depends on the nature of the damages.” Let’s take a deeper look.
Property owner liability
As a general rule of thumb, you can assume property owners are liable for damages to the property, however the rental agreement should outline any exceptions to this rule. For the most part exterior issues such as broken windows would be the landlord’s responsibility as well as any structural problems inside the house. In an apartment complex damage to public areas will fall under the responsibilities of the body corporate. The big exception to this is if the landlord can prove that the tenants themselves are responsible for the damages, once again this needs to be outlined in the rental contract.
Tenants will only be held responsible for damages if they caused them, either intentionally or through negligence. This will still need to be proved by the landlord. In some cases insurance policies will stipulate that all windows and doors need to be locked and if a tenant fails to do so, they will be liable for the loss.
CTA to up your apartment security and buy LockLatch today
Rental apartments pose a unique case when it comes to safety and security and many of the facts will depend on the nature of the property and the points stipulated in the rental contract. If you are a tenant or a landlord looking to make your apartment more secure then LockLatch or MiniLatch provide a great “one size fits all” solution that is ideal for apartment living. Just remember if you are a tenant to always ensure that you seek permission before installation.