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Published: Jun 12, 2024 8 min read

From installing a comprehensive home security system to reinforcing windows and doors, there are numerous strategies to enhance your apartment's security — even if you're renting the place.

Read on for practical apartment safety tips to keep your home secure.

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1. Set up a doorbell camera

Wireless doorbell cameras are easy to install and are often the first line of defense against apartment burglars. You can attach a camera to an existing peephole, and if the apartment has a wired doorbell, you can hook up the camera to the doorbell's wiring and forget about replacing batteries or keeping the camera charged.

Most modern security cameras have wireless connectivity and app support, so you can check the camera from your phone no matter where you are. Some also come equipped with a two-way microphone that allows you to talk to whoever's knocking—be it a delivery person or a guest who showed up before you got home.

2. Upgrade door locks

Consider upgrading the locks of your new apartment when you move in. If you rent, you'll need to check your lease agreement or consult with the property manager before making any changes.

A deadbolt lock is considered the most secure lock option and the hardest to break into. To select the best lock for your home, you can research how it's graded (on a scale from one to three) in terms of functionality and integrity. The Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) publishes a directory of certified products where you see the rating of your preferred lock and how it compares to competitors.

Take care to check that the lock's strike plates (the metal plate that's affixed to the doorjamb and door frame and houses the lock bolt) are installed with long, three-inch screws. Screws this size resist brute force much more than their short counterparts.

If your apartment complex doesn't allow you to change the locks, you can reinforce the existing lock without making permanent changes by adding a doorjamb, chain lock, smart lock or portable door lock (these are often used by travelers staying in hotels, hostels, or Airbnbs).

3. Install a door security bar

A door security bar acts as a physical barrier, making it difficult for intruders to force the apartment door open. It's easy to install and ideal for apartment renters, as it can be moved and used on different doors, including hinged and sliding doors.

Door security bars are placed on the floor, leaning against the door handle, creating a strong diagonal brace that resists pressure. In the case of sliding doors, the bar typically sits in the track and prevents the door from being slid open.

However, apartment dwellers should keep in mind that door security bars aren't as permanent or robust as other security measures like deadbolts. They may also become cumbersome to use, as homeowners must remove and reposition the bar each time the door is used.

4. Reinforce sliding doors

Sliding doors enhance your home, allowing more light in and creating a seamless transition to the external areas. But these structures are particularly vulnerable to break-ins for two reasons: they're usually hidden away in the back or side of the home, and burglars can jimmy the door out of the track and break the lock.

For added peace of mind, you can reinforce a sliding door as follows:

  • Install a security camera and light that points directly to the sliding door
  • Install a security bar or rod in the door track to prevent it from being forced open
  • Install latch sensors and glass shatter alarms that will sound off if an intruder tries to lift the door or break the glass
  • Hire a professional to install a secondary deadbolt lock (or do it yourself if you have the tools and the knowledge)
  • Install security film or special laminated glass that resists breakage

5. Improve window security

First-floor and fire escape windows are common entry points for burglars: they're relatively easy to access and may not draw as much attention as attempting to enter through the front door.

You can secure the windows to your apartment using a combination of physical barriers, reinforcements and smart technology:

  • Window locks: Windows generally have simple flip locks. For added security, upgrade to turnbuckle locks, key-operated locks, locking pins, or a sash lock.
  • Glass reinforcement: Apply shatterproof security film to existing glass or use laminated or tempered glass in the initial installation.
  • Alarm sensor, security camera and flood lights: These security devices serve as deterrents. Flood lights illuminate the recorded area brightly, and an alarm will sound if the window is open or the glass breaks.

6. Get to know your neighbors

The best apartment security gadgets—though useful—are no replacement for community. Building a relationship with your neighbors and knowing each other's routines can help you care for each other and watch out for any suspicious activity. You can stay apprised of what's going on in your apartment building and keep each other in the loop. And if you're going to be out of town, a trusted neighbor can keep an eye on your apartment and let you know if anything unusual comes up.

7. Install a security system

For a one-stop-shop solution, consider installing a security alarm system. You can contact a professional company for a package that best suits your apartment or purchase a DIY home security kit to install yourself.

Companies like Ring Alarm, Simplisafe, and ADT sell wireless security systems that include window and door sensors, smoke detectors, security cameras and carbon monoxide monitoring.

These systems are typically compatible with smart home technology hubs like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple Home so you can synchronize each device and manage the entire system from your phone.

8. Get renters insurance

Home security solutions are excellent at deterring break-ins, but if these security measures fail, a renters insurance policy can help you recoup the value of any stolen belongings.

For roughly the same monthly cost as a streaming service, you can get insurance coverage for personal property, including your clothes, furniture, cooking equipment and other valuables found in an apartment. Most renters policies also include liability coverage —for cases when, for example, someone gets injured in your home and sues you — as well as temporary living expenses if you need to stay elsewhere for a short amount of time.

Check out our selection of the best renters insurance to learn more.

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Tips for Apartment Security FAQs

How to stay safe living alone in an apartment?

Living alone in an apartment can be stressful, especially in cities with high crime rates. You can keep yourself safe by changing some habits and making a few upgrades to the home. Invest in home security devices like a doorbell camera, a camera to record common areas and secure door and window locks. Other apartment safety tips include: leaving the lights on when you leave (smart lights are great for this purpose), keeping the curtains closed at night, and — if you're on holiday — posting vacation pics to social media only after you return, not before. Another useful habit is to always check in with the property manager before letting any maintenance employee in the apartment. Lastly, build a friendly relationship with your neighbors — they can keep an eye out for you should you need any help, and call you if they notice anything suspicious around the building.

How much does it cost to change locks in an apartment?

Changing a lock in an apartment can cost anywhere between $40 and $200, depending on the complexity of the project and the level of security you desire. Consider rekeying if you need to keep the existing locks but still want to upgrade them. Instead of replacing the entire lock, rekeying involves changing the springs and pins inside a lock so that it's compatible with a new key.

Summary of Money's Tips for Apartment Security

Whether you rent or own, there are countless apartment security solutions to secure your home from break-ins. Take note of the following tips to stay safe:

  • Set up a doorbell camera
  • Upgrade and reinforce your door locks
  • Install a door security bar
  • Reinforce sliding doors and windows
  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Install a security system for apartments
  • Get renters insurance