How to Improve the Security of Your Apartment

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Whether you own or rent, it is important to feel secure in your home. Renters, however, are restricted to safety measures that do not permanently alter the building or bar the landlord from entry. Ideally, you and your landlord will work together to create a safe environment. Fortunately, there are also many safety steps you can take on your own if your landlord and you don’t agree on what constitutes a safe apartment.

Locks and Deadbolts

  • When apartment shopping, talk to the landlord and verify that he changes the locks after each tenant. This prevents previous tenants form re-entering the apartment as well as anyone they may have given keys to. Keep your door locked even when you are home, and lock it whenever you leave -- even if you are just going to check the mail. If there is no deadbolt on the door, ask your landlord to install one for you. Chain locks are not adequate.

Meet the Neighbors

  • Be friendly with your neighbors and establish as much of a relationship with them as you can without being intrusive. A sense of friendship and camaraderie among neighbors makes them far more likely to notice and report suspicious activity in or around your apartment. Knowing you neighbors also helps you know who should be in the apartment building and whose presence is potentially suspicious.

The Classics

  • Some nuggets of home safety advice seem to appear everywhere, and with good reason; although they are simple and effective, they are often overlooked. Never hide a spare key outside your apartment. The bad guys know where to look, and that fake plastic rock isn’t fooling anyone. Put indoor lights on a timer when you aren’t going to be home or to avoid coming home to a dark apartment. Slide a broomstick or other sturdy pole into the track of sliding doors and windows to keep intruders out and never place expensive items where they can easily be seen through doors and windows. And never, ever leave the door unlocked with a note telling a friend -- and anyone else who walks by -- that your door is open and you will back later.

Common Area Safety

  • It is important to stay safe while moving to and from your apartment as well as when you are in it. Be alert when traveling through common areas in your apartment building. Take a buddy to the laundry room with you, and avoid doing your wash late at night. Don’t get into an elevator with anyone who looks suspicious or makes you feel uncomfortable, and get out of the elevator before the doors close if someone who gets in after you makes you nervous. Report burned-out light bulbs and other hazards to your landlord or maintenance department promptly.

Storage Area

  • Some apartments offer tenants a small storage area in the basement or another common area of the building. These storage areas are often built from wooden slats or chain-link fencing and are easily seen into. Always cover the items you store so no one but you knows what is in your storage locker and avoid storing expensive or irreplaceable items.

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