As a renter, your safety concerns are unique. You live in an apartment building or complex that is owned by a landlord or property manager. Naturally, you might assume that building security is taken care of. But when it comes to your own safety, don’t.
Living in close quarters to other tenants means you see a higher volume of foot traffic around you. We spoke to a Metro Atlanta Crime Prevention Officer who has spent time sharing with and helping communities implement safety best practices.
Here are 11 safety tips just for apartment renters from a Metro Atlanta Crime Prevention Officer.1. Close your blinds
Windows are more than a way for you to appreciate the view from inside. They also provide opportunities for unwanted guests to look in.
Many burglars spend time staking out their target before striking, and this act includes watching and waiting. If you like to leave your blinds open when you’re not home, this provides an opportunity for potential burglars to figure out where you keep your valuables and when you’re away.
Make sure you do your part to protect your home and valuables by closing the blinds when you leave for the day and when you turn in at night.2. Make sure all windows close fully and locks work
Good window locks keep intruders from gaining easy access to your home. This is especially true for windows on the ground level, but all windows should be checked.
Treat all windows as potential entry points, and make sure locks work properly and cannot be manipulated from the outside.
Consider secondary window lock features or install window security pins to the frame of your windows. If a burglar were to force door open, it’s not the deadbolt that breaks but the wooden door frame that fractures.
Fortify your wood frame with steel molds. Steel frames fortify the wood frame and make it very difficult to kick in. These steel or metal devices simply mold to your door frame and can be installed with 3-inch steel screws.3. Lock up after yourself
It’s no use checking that all the locks work if you don’t make use of them. Always make sure to lock your front door and all windows before you leave your apartment—even if you’re only taking out the trash or checking the mail.
Check to make sure your deadbolt reaches at least one inch into the door frame’s strike plate. If not you can fortify your strike plate with 3-inch stainless steel screws.4. Be mindful of common areas
Apartment common areas like the pool, storage rooms, workout area, and laundry facility should only be accessible to residents. When touring the apartment before you sign the lease, watch the entrances and exits to the common areas. Ideally, they should only be accessible with a resident’s key, card, or fob.
Also check for loiterers during the day. Many burglaries occur during day time hours when residents are away for the day.
If you see any areas of concern, speak to your landlord or property manager about securing the area.5. Look for security cameras in the parking area
Almost every apartment complex has a designated parking area for residents. When touring the complex, check for security cameras.
The ideal location for cameras in parking lots or parking decks would be at the entrances and exits. If an incident happens, the perpetrator most likely had to enter and exit the same way residents normally do.
If a complex provides a parking garage, check to make sure it is gated and pedestrian doors are secured. It can be common for vehicle break-ins to occur in apartment complex parking garages, so it’s worth taking the time to inspect your new parking area.
6. Check for good lighting
Some areas to look out for when considering an apartment are the entrances, hallways, walkways, parking areas, elevators, stairways, mail areas, and laundry rooms. Make sure these areas have enough lighting not only during the day, but also at night.
If not, talk to your landlord about getting more lights installed. Burglars are less likely to target well-lit areas.
LED lighting is the preferred light source for crime deterrence. If the light source presents a gold or bronze hue, they are high-pressure sodium lights. This type of light source distorts color and creates shadows. The ideal lighting would be uniform LED lighting that won’t create shadows7. Note fire escapes
In apartment complexes, exterior fire escapes can be lifesavers during an emergency. But they also provide easy access to windows and doors. This can attract potential burglars. If your apartment has a fire escape, make sure it is stored properly off the ground so potential burglars can’t reach your apartment.8. Your balcony is not a storage area
Your balcony is what most people see first from the outside. Don’t use your balcony as storage for valuable items like your bicycle. Lower floor balconies are easy and fast targets for burglars to grab things.
If you do prefer to keep your bicycle on the balcony, make sure to lock it up with a secure bike lock.9. Watch out for sliding glass doors
Many apartment sliding glass doors typically have weaker locks than regular doors. When walking through your apartment, take a little bit of extra time to check the glass door. Most of these doors need extra reinforcement.
Look into security bars for your glass door, even if you are not on the ground floor.
Check to see if your sliding glass door lifts off its track. If it does, there’s a simple fix to remove any extra space. Drill a screw into the top frame to eliminate the space between the sliding glass door and its top frame. This will make it more difficult to lift the door off its track.10. Check out the apartment during the day but drive back at night
A place can look completely different after you move in and all the lights are out. Is it well-lit? Do you feel comfortable? It’s worth driving past the apartment at night to see how it looks after the sun sets.
You can also check crimereports.com or visit your local police department’s webpage for current crime trends in your area.
10 b. We know we said we had 11 tips, but we’re throwing in an extra tip from the pros:
Consider keeping music or the television on during the day as an extra mode of caution. Some smart home speakers even come with features that play dog barking sounds when you’re away.11. Ask your landlord or property manager to install a security camera
It’s worth looking into a security camera for apartments. Today, there are several security camera options for renters that don’t require drilling into walls. Many apartment dwellers have indoor security cameras, but keep in mind these only protect a single unit.Flock Safety provides security cameras that keep the whole complex (and everyone living there) safe when installed at the entrances or exits. Thanks to motion-sensor cameras, Flock captures all the details police need to pursue a case.