How to secure your rental property so tenants feel safe

Apartments.com recently reported that 57 percent of people surveyed said that safety plays a significant role in how they choose an apartment. Safety, in fact, ranked only second in importance to affordability.1

Many security precautions are common sense, but it pays to consider going the extra mile for your tenants by installing extra layers of security, including home security systems for apartments.

The following are tips for making your properties as secure as possible, and keeping your tenants safe and sound.

 

Apartment security basics

To start, doors should be solid core and have a locking doorknob, a deadbolt (with at least one-inch throws, if not longer) and a wide-angle peephole. Sliding entry doors should include a security bar. Make sure all entrances to the building's common areas are kept locked.2 Install latches on all usable windows so residents can lock them from the inside. Consider whether it makes sense to put security bars on accessible windows, as well.

It's also important to note that many newer apartments have inside entrances and utilize newer types of locks that don't require a key.

Security outside the building

It's a good idea to install outside lighting (timed lights will save you money on the electric bill) and consider motion detectors. Not only can these deter vandals and other criminals but lighting up walkways and common areas may also help prevent risk to your residents and their guests. It can also help beautify your building and improve "curb appeal."2 Be sure to keep fixtures clean and establish a schedule for inspecting exterior lighting so you can immediately repair anything broken or replace any burned out lights.

If your rental property is in an area that requires increased security, consider limiting access to your complex by putting up a fence with gates at all entrances that only residents and their guests can enter.2

Be sure to trim shrubs regularly so they don't provide hiding places for criminals nor conceal criminal activity. Restrict access to unused outdoor areas for the same reason.2

Make sure, too, that the street address is visible on all your building's entry doors, and that each apartment door is marked with its apartment number.2

 

Hiring outside security personnel

In some situations, you may want to consider hiring security personnel to monitor your property. This could be a standing guard service that provides protection around-the-clock, a part-time guard working on a staggered (and unpredictable) schedule, an off-duty law enforcement officer who offers security services or a property lock-up service that makes random checks every evening.2

At move-in, be sure to have residents confirm that all security devices are operative, and that they know to contact you immediately if any locks or other security devices are not working.

 

Home security systems for apartments

You may want to consider installing the same type of security systems that you may already use in your own home. A security system can be an attractive amenity in a rental property and can help protect your investment. It may also allow tenants to feel safer knowing that there's a device that helps deter burglars and vandals. First responders receive faster alerts from security systems, which may reduce the risk of damage to your property.

You may also want to consider a wireless alarm system, which is less expensive and can potentially be installed yourself. Generally, you determine how many sensors and alarms you need in a wireless alarm network. Many include automation features so you can monitor the system from anywhere, on or off the property.

Most landlords require tenants to let them know the alarm system access code so that they can enter the property without triggering the alarm. Some tenants don't mind this, as it's no different from a landlord accessing the property with a key. Others feel a landlord should not enter the building without their permission, and they may put up some resistance. Most states have clear rules about when a landlord can enter a property, so make sure you understand those and are compliant with your state's laws.3

Be sure, too, that you go over the alarm system with the tenant and perhaps create a document clearly outlining how to set and disarm it. Too many false alarms can disrupt neighbors, violate noise ordinances, and bring fines or other penalties from the municipality sending out emergency responders. Your lease agreement, or a lease addendum, should include rules about the access code, who is responsible for false alarms, and information regarding damaging or dismantling the system.4

Improving apartment security measures at your property not only helps your tenants but also contributes to a safer neighborhood——and may even enhance your property value.

1. "Apartments.com Survey Reveals What Matters Most To Renters In 2014." PR Newswire: News Distribution, Targeting and Monitoring. October 21, 2014. Accessed June 13, 2018. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/apartmentscom-survey-reveals-what-matters-most-to-renters-in-2014-848938637.html.
2. Griswold, Robert S. and Harmon, Laurence. "Tips for Landlords: Practical Security Measures." Dummies. Accessed June 13, 2018. http://www.dummies.com/personal-finance/real-estate/home-buying/tips-for-landlords-practical-security-measures/.
3. Stewart, Marcia. "State Laws on Landlord's Access to Rental Property." Nolo. November 2017. Accessed June 13, 2018. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/chart-notice-requirements-enter-rental-29033.html.
4. White, Stephen Michael. "Should Landlords Install a Security System in Their Rental Property?" RentPrep. March 20, 2018. Accessed June 13, 2018. https://www.rentprep.com/property-maintenance/install-security-system-rental-property/.