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How Safe Is Your Rental Property? Security Tips If You Don’t Own a Single-Family Home


It’s estimated that about 2 million home burglaries are reported in the United States each year. That’s about one every 13 seconds, and it doesn’t matter if residents own the property or are renting it.

About one-third of all burglaries aren’t forced entry, but rather thieves accessing the property via an unlocked door or window. However, the other two-thirds of annual burglaries are considered forced entry.

Securing a home that you own is one thing, but due to a variety of factors more and more people are opting for the renting route rather than the ownership one. But those who rent apartments, townhomes and condominiums have different security risks simply due to the shared nature of these types of complexes.

While the break-in rewards are generally less lucrative in an apartment unit compared to a single-family home, there’s also potentially less risk for thieves, especially if they too are complex residents.

This is especially true when you consider the fact that most burglaries are committed by those who live nearby. With this in mind, a would-be thief is likely familiar with the property, knows how to access it and knows when to access it.

So whether it’s an apartment, condo or townhouse, what can you do as a resident to keep your complex residence secure? We examine:

Securing Today’s Rental Properties

First things first, there are certain things you should look for in a property before you sign the lease. For instance, is the complex in a high crime area? How well lit are parking lots and common areas? What’s the general upkeep like of the complex? Is there an intercom system to limit the individuals that have access to the property?

After you’ve assessed the property and signed the lease, it’s important to know what you can and cannot do to the property regarding the terms of the lease that you agreed to with the landlord. For instance, can you install a security system? Can you alter the door to include a peephole?

After learning what you can and cannot do, make sure that you follow up with the landlord about what they have agreed to do via terms of the lease. For example, most landlords agree to change out locks when tenants change to improve security. Make sure they do this.

After you’ve taken up residency, there are various other things that you should be doing to keep your belongings safe. Here’s a look:

Lock Basics

Minimally, there are a few basics that every property should have, regardless of whether it’s a rental or owned property. These are deadbolt locks on entry doors (go with a 1-inch bolt and heavy-duty strike plate for best security), window locks and back door bars (in addition to back door locks, pending the rental property has an additional point of entry) to make rear entry more difficult.

Chain locks can also be helpful, and can add another element of security. If your rental only has a basic door look on entrances, inquire about maintenance installing a deadbolt lock or ask if you can hire a locksmith to install one.

Consider Smart Locks

Locks are getting smarter and smarter, integrating with mobile devices and some even come equipped with built-in cameras to help homeowners and renters see who is at the door before answering or capture footage of potential criminals around the property.

These types of locks are also ideal for when you’re on vacation to keep tabs on your property, as burglars tend to strike when they know that nobody is home. If your landlord allows you to switch out the property’s locks, consider consulting a locksmith to help you select the best smart lock for your situation.

Buy a Safe

It’s better to be safe than sorry – no pun intended. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to purchase a safe to keep in your rental unit as a means of protecting your most valuable items. You can even up the ante a little bit with your safe and secure it to the floor or into a wall so it’s not easily removed for later manipulation.

While we recommend purchasing a safe in rental properties, we also recommend placing or securing it in a closet or location that’s not in plain sight to double down on the security it can offer.

Other Tips

There are a variety of other suggestions that tenants should consider when it comes to safeguarding their rental property. For instance, purchase renter’s insurance. This is affordable and will protect your possessions if they’re stolen or damaged.

Also, try to be in the residence during maintenance appointments or inspections that a landlord may arrange. This way, you can rest assured that nobody is snooping through your items that shouldn’t be. If you can’t be present at the time of a maintenance appointment or inspection, consider placing valuables in the safe or storing them in areas of the property that are more subtle.

Finally, don’t forget about your car. If you aren’t afforded a garage with your rental property, make sure to park in well lit areas of the parking lot and always keep your vehicle locked. Avoid placing valuables in the vehicle, as well as any spare keys to your unit just in case if becomes vandalized.

Burglaries are the most common regular threat to any property, whether it’s rented or owned. That said, it makes sense to take the necessary measures to protect it to the fullest extent, especially in residential complexes where tenant units are close together and there’s a high volume of foot traffic throughout the facility. For more information on how to best safeguard your residential property, contact the experienced professionals at Great Valley Lockshop today by calling 610-644-5334 or request a free estimate!

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