4 Ways to Add Home Security When You're a Renter
By Kristin Wong
When you're a homeowner, you can hardwire your house with an entire security monitoring system that keeps tabs on your home and alerts you and the authorities if there’s a break-in. When you rent your house or apartment, however, things get a little complicated: You’re not always allowed to install these wired systems in your unit.
Even if you don’t own your home, you still want to feel safe in it and make sure you’re protected. Thankfully, there are plenty of solid and affordable security options for renters, too.
1. PICK A WIRELESS MONITORING SERVICE.
Traditional security systems that require wiring the entire home may not work for renters, but some of the larger security companies do provide renters with options. For example, ADT offers wireless security products that are aimed at renters. They’re simple enough to install (they don’t require any drilling or hardwiring) and you can conveniently monitor your system from an app on your phone.
Frontpoint Security is another company that offers wireless option for renters. Frontpoint's system of cameras and sensors are connected via a cellular network, so you don't have to depend on your landline for protection (as you do with most traditional systems). And you install the system yourself (it claims to take about 30 minutes), then control it from a panel or an app on your phone.
SimpliSafe will also get the job done, and it works similarly. It doesn’t require any wiring or drilling, and you can take the device and sensors with you when you move.
2. INSTALL A SMARTHOME SECURITY SYSTEM.
If you don’t want to pay for monthly monitoring, you might consider a product like iSmartAlarm. It’s like any other security system in that it uses sensors, door monitors, and cameras to register any potential break-ins. It will notify you when something is amiss, but unlike a traditional home security system, it won’t alert a third party or the authorities.
However, you can connect the product to a web service called IFTTT, which allows you to customize the use of your iSmartAlarm by activating certain "recipes," or rules. For example, you could set up a rule to call a neighbor or friend whenever your iSmartAlarm goes off. You could also set up a rule to automatically activate your alarm at a certain time of day. It’s a pretty neat tool if you’re tech savvy and prefer flexibility and customization.
Canary works in much the same way as iSmartAlarm. It’s an all-in-one device that monitors your home using a camera and motion sensor, then alerts you or sets off an alarm when it senses a break-in.
Doberman isn’t quite as “smart” as iSmart or Canary, but it’s an affordable addition. You stick it on your windows or doors, and if it detects any huge vibrations, it sounds an alarm. Its adhesive backing is also a security sticker, which may be an effective theft deterrent.
3. BEEF UP YOUR HARDWARE.
Beyond buying a new device, there are some extra security precautions you can (and probably should) take as a renter, simply because so many people may have presumably lived in your unit. For one, you might ask your landlord to replace the deadbolt and lock, since anyone who has lived in your apartment potentially has the keys. You might even ask if you can do it yourself, then give your landlord the spare key.
Thieves also often target door hinges. If your apartment door hinges are facing outside, use setscrews to secure those hinges. To do this, you simply drill the screw through the middle of the hinge. State Farm offers further instruction here. You may also consider replacing your strike plate, the metal plate on your door frame that secures your lock. Many of them are old and worn, and it’s a cheap enough piece of hardware to replace.
4. GET RENTERS INSURANCE.
If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times: Get renters insurance. Not only does renters insurance have you covered should a thief make off with your laptop, but it can protect your belongings in the event of vandalism, fire, smoke, or water damage. The right renters insurance plan can even protect your belongings outside of your apartment, like your bicycle or engagement ring. And best of all, most renters insurance plans will only cost you a couple hundred bucks a year.