All you need to know if you are renting a home and want to install a security system

How can I protect my apartment from burglars?

With a burglary happening every 13 seconds in the US and every 40 seconds in the UK it’s clear that security measures must be taken into account when you want to have peace of mind and feel secure when you are not at home.

We talked in another article called “Why is worth to install a security system in your home” about the importance of having a home security system as studies show that the first thing that will scare a potential thief from entering your home is a security camera. It’s also important to remember that most burglars are not professionals so “having a system security installed in your home will probably deter them to enter your place as they will look up for a better opportunity: a house without a security system”. If a security camera is not present, the following line of defense in your house will be a security system that should include door/window sensors, motion sensors and possible some other security devices since when the alarm is triggered, the burglar will immediately assume that the risk of being caught could be too high making him to decide to get out of your place.

So, to the question “how can I protect my apartment from burglars?” we have a pretty straight forward answer: with a home security system.

You want to check with your landlord about the possibility of installing certain devices such as security cameras or doorbell cameras (we will talk about this later on) but for other home security devices such as door/window sensors and motion sensors, your main concern would be which company can offer you a better deal, not only based on money, but also on the possibility of setting up an apartment security system that you can take with you in case you have to move somewhere else.

How do I secure my apartment door?

Of course a good door lock system can really help you improve your door security. We can basically divide door locks into two main categories, conventional deadbolts and smart locks.

In the first category we find bored cylindrical locks, they are widely used not only in homes but also in armored doors as in theory they offer a high degree of security. Unfortunately they are becoming obsolete because experts have found different ways to force them and thus break the lock, leaving residents exposed.

The second category includes those devices that are definitely more efficient when it comes to secure your apartment door. This type of locks allows a high degree of security and can be with key or without key. They usually have a code that unlocks the lock or a master key in the form of a digital card. A great example of this tech is the Yale Door Lock.

Yale is possible the best manufacturer of smart door locks. They produce an amazing tamper-proof smart keyless lock that can be lock and unlock with just a passcode. You can give the passcode to any person of your trust and you can also revoke the permission. The device is also capable of auto locking and you can configure the Door Lock to open and close also according to your schedule. The company Scout offers this devices as part of their home security devices (it’s usually not included in the standard packages and you need to ask for it as an extra), if you want to know more about Scout be sure to check our “Best home security systems for 2018” article.

Another example of apartment door protection is Nest Hello. This doorbell can transmit live feed 24/7. It has person and motion sensor in order to detect when someone is approaching and you can set it in order to recognize faces so a special alert is sent to your device when a family member is at the door. You can also pre-record quick responses. Of course you can check who’s at the door through your smartphone wherever you are. Offered by Nest, this devices is part of a home security automated system, something more and more top companies are offering to their customers. Of course in this case you will have to check with your landlord and you will need to check the regulations for camera and audio feed in your state as while the device is great, sometimes it may not be the best option for your case.

Of course door/window sensors must be installed as well but we are going to talk about this later.

Can you install a security system in an apartment?

You may want to check with your landlord and, if it’s ok with him, you may want to check with the property management about under which conditions you are allow or not to install a security camera, (we will dig a little bit deeper about this shorty), however when it comes to installing a security system with no camera, and while you want to check with your landlord about the possibility of doing it, nothing stops you to proceed with the installation. The only thing you want to take into account is that you make drills or you damage the property while installing the home security system you may face charges or deductions from your deposit.

Many companies have designed packages for renters. You would like to check the aforementioned article about Best home security systems for 2018 as in that article we analyzed the pros and cons for the top 10 companies in the market.

It is important to consider different things when you want to install a security system in an apartment when you are renting. For example you will always want to go for a wireless system as installation is easy and allows you the possibility of taking the home security devices with you once you move to another house.

Can you install a camera in your apartment?

Truth is that, again, you should check with your landlord when it comes to installing a camera in your house. However, while your landlord may have the authority to decide on cameras in common spaces, he doesn’t have any decision power over private spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms. Is it also true that there is no definite legal framework regarding this topic so it comes down to the rules of the apartment complex where you live.

It’s also important to note here that more and more frequently, there are owners that decide to install security cameras in hallways and common areas in order to surveille their property. This is something you should really check with the owner of the apartment before signing a agreement as you may want to install cameras to prevent burglaries but the idea of having cameras that will surveille you and undermine your privacy is not quite nice.

While on the installation of security cameras there are grey areas that vary from state to state in the US and from country to country worldwide, there is a common pattern when it comes to audio recording. Two-way communications are nowadays a feature that many security cameras offer, however in most of the States, in order to record a conversation both parties need to be aware as recording a conversation without consent is strictly forbidden.

A great camera for your apartment is definitely the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, the ultimate indoor camera with 4K resolution, 12x digital zoom and enhanced Close-up tracking view. It has a 130-degree field of view and has night vision equipment (8 powerful LEDs with IR cut filter). Is equipped with a high quality speaker and mics so you can speak and hear loud and clear. It has really everything you want from an indoor camera.

We can sum this up by stating two things when you want to install a security camera; first check with a lawyer the legality of installing a home security camera in your state, second check with your landlord about the possibility of going for it.

Can you install a camera outside your apartment?

While the quick answer is no, as per privacy reasons, you might want to check with the condominium administrator as there may be some opening in the condominium regulation that may allow you to install a camera pointing at your door or installed in your smart doorbell.

How long do apartment security camera keep footage?

That really depends on your home security plan and relies on the capacity of your camera and its way of transmitting images. Some cameras overwrite images once the storage capacity is full. Other cameras upload the recordings directly to the cloud and you want to check with your provider about how much space in their cloud your are entitled to and the costs of that service.

Who is responsible of the apartment security installation?

When you check the regulations about home security responsibilities for rented properties, you will see that both landlords and tenants have some degree of responsibility. It varies from state to state but in all cases, homeowners are obligated to provide renters, strictly speaking about home security, with basic safety standards such as deadbolt locks that works properly, suitable emergency exits, smoke detectors and locks on windows.

On the other hand tenants are responsible for the maintenance of those safety standards. A tenant will also be responsible for their home security maintenance if they damage something (like a deadbolt lock or a smoke detector).

All this means that if a tenant decide to install a home security system, it will be his responsibility to pay and maintain such systems unless he agrees otherwise with the landlord. Good communication between the two parts is key as it will help to improve the security for the tenant and for the landlord’s property.

Can you install a security system in an apartment?

You may want to check with your landlord and, if it’s ok with him, you may want to check with the property management about under which conditions you are allow or not to install a security camera, (we will dig a little bit deeper about this shorty), however when it comes to installing a security system with no camera, and while you want to check with your landlord about the possibility of doing it, nothing stops you to proceed with the installation. The only thing you want to take into account is that you make drills or you damage the property while installing the home security system you may face charges or deductions from your deposit.

Many companies have designed packages for renters. You would like to check the aforementioned article about Best home security systems for 2018 as in that article we analyzed the pros and cons for the top 10 companies in the market.

It is important to consider different things when you want to install a security system in an apartment when you are renting. For example you will always want to go for a wireless system as installation is easy and allows you the possibility of taking the home security devices with you once you move to another house.

Can you install a camera in your apartment?

Truth is that, again, you should check with your landlord when it comes to installing a camera in your house. However, while your landlord may have the authority to decide on cameras in common spaces, he doesn’t have any decision power over private spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms. Is it also true that there is no definite legal framework regarding this topic so it comes down to the rules of the apartment complex where you live.

It’s also important to note here that more and more frequently, there are owners that decide to install security cameras in hallways and common areas in order to surveille their property. This is something you should really check with the owner of the apartment before signing a agreement as you may want to install cameras to prevent burglaries but the idea of having cameras that will surveille you and undermine your privacy is not quite nice.

While on the installation of security cameras there are grey areas that vary from state to state in the US and from country to country worldwide, there is a common pattern when it comes to audio recording. Two-way communications are nowadays a feature that many security cameras offer, however in most of the States, in order to record a conversation both parties need to be aware as recording a conversation without consent is strictly forbidden.

A great camera for your apartment is definitely the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, the ultimate indoor camera with 4K resolution, 12x digital zoom and enhanced Close-up tracking view. It has a 130-degree field of view and has night vision equipment (8 powerful LEDs with IR cut filter). Is equipped with a high quality speaker and mics so you can speak and hear loud and clear. It has really everything you want from an indoor camera.

We can sum this up by stating two things when you want to install a security camera; first check with a lawyer the legality of installing a home security camera in your state, second check with your landlord about the possibility of going for it.

Can you install a camera outside your apartment?

While the quick answer is no, as per privacy reasons, you might want to check with the condominium administrator as there may be some opening in the condominium regulation that may allow you to install a camera pointing at your door or installed in your smart doorbell.

How long do apartment security camera keep footage?

That really depends on your home security plan and relies on the capacity of your camera and its way of transmitting images. Some cameras overwrite images once the storage capacity is full. Other cameras upload the recordings directly to the cloud and you want to check with your provider about how much space in their cloud your are entitled to and the costs of that service.

Who is responsible of the apartment security installation?

When you check the regulations about home security responsibilities for rented properties, you will see that both landlords and tenants have some degree of responsibility. It varies from state to state but in all cases, homeowners are obligated to provide renters, strictly speaking about home security, with basic safety standards such as deadbolt locks that works properly, suitable emergency exits, smoke detectors and locks on windows.

On the other hand tenants are responsible for the maintenance of those safety standards. A tenant will also be responsible for their home security maintenance if they damage something (like a deadbolt lock or a smoke detector).

All this means that if a tenant decide to install a home security system, it will be his responsibility to pay and maintain such systems unless he agrees otherwise with the landlord. Good communication between the two parts is key as it will help to improve the security for the tenant and for the landlord’s property.

How to make your apartment safety

We talked about the importance of securing your doors, but it’s also important that security in your apartment gets improved by installing some other devices.

What you want to look for in an apartment security system is definitely to secure entry points and common spaces as those are the most trafficked areas from where a burglar could enter and go through in order to steal your valuables.

Assuming you live in a low-floor apartment through whose windows it is possible to somehow access your apartment, you will need to install a window/door sensor for each of those windows and for your entrance door.

What is a window/door sensor? A window/door sensor is a device composed by two pieces, one reed switch and one magnet that together create a closed circuit and that are installed in doors and windows in order to trigger an alarm when the door or window is opened by someone while the alarm system is on. If you want to know more about these type of sensors, where to place them and how to install them be sure to check our blog for the article called “Window and door sensors, a key part of an integral home security system” (please insert here the hyperlink once that article is up on our blog section).

Also you would really like to add one or two motion sensors (depending on how big your apartment is) in the areas with more traffic in your home. As we explained in another article about motion sensors (please insert here the hyperlink once that article is up on our blog section), a motion sensor is a device that detects physical and or kinetic movement within a certain radius and weight. While in many apartments is not allow to have pets, in case in yours is, don’t worry as most of the sensors are usually pet friendly up to a certain weight so that a false positive can be avoided when your pet is home alone.

The technology behind a motion sensor in the home/apartment security industry is usually infrared or microwave. In the case of infrared tech, the motion detector is built so it can detect infrared energy; it works by detecting differences in the temperature of the monitored place, while for microwave motion sensors, the behave is different from infrared ones as they emit a continuous wave of microwave radiation that bounce back from a stationary point at the other end from the device. If someone enters the monitored space, the distance between the device and the person will differ from the distance between the device and the stationary point at the end of the detection range so this will trigger the alarm. Be sure to check the aforementioned article in our blog.

A glass breaking sensor is also a device you may want to check if you have multiple windows in one room from where potential burglars could enter your apartment. Glass breaking sensors are devices that “listen” to a specific acoustical frequency that is generated when a glass breaks. More advanced detectors of this kind have a duel tech that allows to listen both flex and audio frequencies.

All this devices will always be connected to a control panel that is the one receiving the signal from the different sensors and that is the one communicating with the central monitoring station and your smart device.

Some examples of the above mentioned devices are, the Frontpoint door/window sensors that can be placed not only on standard doors or windows, but can be used to secure the door cabinet of the place where you keep your gun so this way, if a child of yours opens something he is not supposed to open you will be immediately alerted.

The basic motion sensor offered by ADT to their customers, a pet friendly sensor (up to 40lbs or 80lbs, depending on the one you get) that is able to cover a large area of your home (35’ x 40’). When it detects movement, it will trigger a high decibel alarm siren and will also send a signal to one of the six monitoring stations ADT has.

The Scout glass break sensor, manufactured by Go Control. a company that does home security devices compatible also with other top firms of the home security business. It’s prepared to detect the sound of breaking glass (360 degrees) and up to a distance of 15 feet (with no interference between the sensor and the glasses). Can be very useful when you need to cover an area with many different windows.

How can you keep burglars out of your apartment

If you make it through this part it means that you already know what is needed in order to make your apartment more secure. We mentioned along this article a couple of companies that offer home security services for renters but later on we’ll talk about the best companies for renters. However is worth mentioning DIY security systems. If you don’t want to sign a contract with a home security provider, you can always buy security devices and build a DIY security system that you will be able to control and monitor through your smartphone or smart device. If you are interested in knowing more about the advantages of DIY vs professional installations you should check out our article about that topic.

Very important, wherever you go for a DIY or professional apartment security system is that you always put your alarm system in the proper state, active, stand by or disabled according to if you are in your home, if you are out out, or if you are in and want to have a certain part of the house with the security system running.

Do security lights deter burglars?

Interviews with former burglars and felons showed a common pattern when it comes to seeing the lights on in an apartment. When a light is on inside an apartment or home, the potential burglar will feel insecure about whether to continue with his bad intentions or to abort his mission.

If you have a light motion sensor that will turn on lights if someone approach your apartment door (you should check with the condominium administrator to see if it’s possible to install light sensors) or breaks in, you will for sure have one more deterrent element in your arsenal.

What happens when someone breaks in

If you have your system active and you are on a monitored contract with a security company, when a burglar breaks in through your door or window (with the window/door sensor properly installed), the alarm will be triggered and the door sensor will send a signal to the control panel which will alert you and, if you have a contract with a security company, the monitoring station. This station will immediately check with you and will notify the authorities if necessary. If for some reason the burglar is able to get through your window/door sensor, you next line of defense will be the motion sensor. If installed properly the thief won’t be able to detect it in time and the device once detects the intrusion will trigger the alarm, alert the control panel that will proceed to immediately alert you and the monitoring station.

A burglar, if decides to go all in despite you having a security system installed, may try to disarm your control panel by crashing it or smashing it. However many companies, in a partnership with alarm.com offer control panel with crash and smash protection. This crash and smash protection is a patented technology by alarm.com that allows for your control panel to send an emergency signal to the monitoring station right when a someone tries to crash/smash/tamper your control panel. Once the signal is sent, if the security system is not disabled the proper way, the central monitoring station will intervene by alerting you on the phone and, if necessary, by notifying the proper authorities.

Of course, in case you are hace a DIY security system, the alerts are not going to be sent to a monitored station but just to your smartphone. If you don’t have a security camera installed it will be hard for you to be sure if a false alarm was triggered for some reason or if your apartment has been compromised. Calling the authorities for a false alarm may have a cost so unless you have a camera we strongly recommend to sign a contract with a home security company.

The best security companies for renters

Nest Secure

If you are looking for a top of the line tech, home automation and the possibility of signing a month to month subscription ($29.99), the subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google, is your first choice. The equipment is not cheap but they are probably the most advanced devices in the security market among the top 10 companies. Being totally wireless, you will be able to move all the devices to a new apartment in case you decide to move elsewhere.
Thanks to the partnership between Nest with MONI, you can get professional monitoring 24/7. MONI is a monitoring company that has been on the market for over 25 years and that uses specific technology in order to quickly communicate with you when the alarm is triggered and to keep the communication until the alarm situation is resolved. MONI handles over 2 million alarms a year and has high Customer Support standards.
Be sure to check our article about Nest where you will find all the information you need regarding equipment, packages and more.

Scout.

The company founded by Mr. Roberts and Mr. Shapiro was ranked number 8 in our “best home security companies of 2018”, but when it comes to offering apartment home security for renters Scout ranks way higher. Their security system is able to integrate with many different devices from different companies, from the Nest Cam IQ Indoor security camera to the Yale Lock door and the Go Control’s glass break detector. Home automation is a priority of this company as well as affordable plans.
As we stated in our annual report, “Scout offers one of the cheapest monthly fees of the market with the self-monitoring plan (Always On) at $9.99 and the monitoring plan (Always On+) at $19.99. We love this as much as we love the no contract policy of the company which allow customers to pay a monthly fee and the possibility of upgrading or downgrading the plans according to their needs. This is an excellent option for renters and for those that like to have self-monitoring on a daily basis but prefer to get a professional monitoring when going on vacation”.
Be sure to check our article about Scout where you will find all the information you need regarding equipment, packages and more.

Frontpoint

Founded in 2007, Frontpoint is among the most straightforward companies in the business when it comes to transparency and confidence in their product. They offer a 30 day risk free trial and three years warranty on their devices. They have probably one of the easiest DIY installation procedures in the home security market and they can count on the best Customer Service for home security companies. Being still administered by the three founders, this company has a touch of family business, something that is very refreshing when it comes to a national company that seeks empathy toward their customers.
The equipment is pretty standard and Z-Wave compatible, thanks to their partnership with alarm.com they offer crash and smash protection and they also offer Geo Fencing among their features. You may want to check their interactive plan at $44.99 as this is quite a complete package. The only big issue here is that you will have to sign a 36-month contract.
Be sure to check our article about Frontpoint where you will find all the information you need regarding equipment, packages and more.

ADT

If what you are looking for is a home security company with large experience, ADT is what you want. Over 8 million customers across the US and Canada, over 140 years of experience and an ongoing collaboration with Google and Amazon.
This company offers 6 month money back guarantee, free installation on most of their plans and 6 top of the line monitoring stations across the United States. As we detailed in our annual report, “ADT is the home security company with more monitoring centers in the country. The main one is located in Aurora, Colorado. The monitoring centers are able to take over 6,000 duress, fire or burglary calls, 7,500 schedule-related alarms and 6,000 customer service calls each day. With an average of 335 call stations in each facility, there’s always trained personnel ready to help you in case of necessity”.
The equipment they can offer you is very complete and home automation compatible. Plans starts at $36.99 but you definitely want to check directly with them about what is the most convenient one for you. ADT offers the right combination of tech, monitoring and pricing.
Be sure to check our article about ADT where you will find all the information you need regarding equipment, packages and more.

Protect America

Thad Paschall, founder of this company, had a goal: “to make home security affordable for all”. Today they still work with that mantra in mind. Compared to other companies in the home security market, their equipment is not very fancy nor extremely technologically advanced. But most of the equipment the company will provide you is made by General Electric and has a lifetime warranty so, we are talking about devices that are made by a company that has over 120 years of experience in the field of technology. Their tech is therefore very solid.
Protect America relies on ADT Monitoring Centers for their monitoring. We think this is a great compromise when you try to sell a good and affordable service. As we mentioned, in recent years, Protect America started to focus on partnerships in order to develop home automation. While other companies might offer more advanced tech in this segment of the market, the Austin based company is making progress with the integration of their system and Z-Wave compatible products from third parties such as Amazon (Protect America offers the possibility to integrate Amazon Alexa devices with the Simon XT touch screen control panel) and Yale (Yale Real Living Touchscreen Z-Wave Smart Locks can be used when you have a broadband or cellular plan with the Texan company).
When it comes to the packages you can choose between landline monitoring (cheaper and starting at $19.99) or cellular monitoring (plans start at $41.99).
Be sure to check our article about Protect America where you will find all the information you need regarding equipment, packages and more.

To recap…

If you want to improve the security of your apartment, installing a home security system is must. Talk to your landlord about your idea and be sure to comply with all the building rules. Always choose a wireless system over a wired one as it will be easier to take with you once you decide to move. Always install a window/door sensor on your door and on vulnerable windows. Install at least a motion detector and ask for permission to your landlord (also check the condominium rules and state laws) if you want to install a camera inside the apartment, something we strongly recommend. Be sure to check the companies we mentioned above if you decided to have a monitored security system instead of a DIY security system. Don’t hesitate to contact with representatives of those companies and ask all the questions you need to ask. If you want to check our top 10 for best home security systems of 2018 just click here.