A Google search for “Apartment Security”, will pull articles with a handful of tips – trim your bushes, change your locks, get to know your neighbors… All valuable, all generic. If you want apartment security, you need to go beyond tips. You need a tactical home security plan.
What’s a home security plan? A home security plan is kind of like a game plan — you vs. burglars. Your goal is to keep them from stealing your stuff. So how can you win? First, know how to reduce your chances of becoming a victim. Second, protect your home from the outside in. Home security should be done in layers. To protect the outside of your home, reinforce your front door. The next layer should be early detection. Third is communication. Your system should be capable of sending alerts to you or to a central monitoring agency. And yes. Renters can have professionally monitored home security systems. Finally, a security camera is your final layer. A camera may not be able to stop a burglary, but it can help you identify a burglar and bring justice.
Executing Your Home Security Plan
Now that you have a security plan, the next phase is implementation. It sounds simple, but looking for the right pieces of equipment can be challenging. Renters have special needs that make it tougher to shop for the right equipment. You have to consider your security deposit, what your landlord has to say about installing equipment, and the length of time you plan to stay in place before moving. But don’t worry, that’s why I’m here.
Keeping The Target Off Of Your Back
Good lighting can go far when it comes to keeping your home safe. And smart connected lighting is ideal.
Smart light bulbs look just like normal bulbs and install like normal light bulbs. The difference is that they connect and can perform automated tasks or even be controlled using a smartphone app. The downside is that they are more expensive than a normal light bulb. But as most are LED, they should last well beyond the terms of your lease.
From a home security perspective, it’s the rules and smartphone control that adds value. Say, when you’re staying late in the office, you can simply launch the companion app on your smartphone and turn on your lights to make it appear like you’re home. You can even schedule the lights to turn themselves on using rules. You might have your lights set to turn on every morning at 6am during the week, turn off while you are at work, and set to turn back on at sunset so that you never have to come home to a dark house again.
Equipment you will need: Phillips Hue Light Bulb
Why Philips Hue:
- One of the innovators in smart lighting.
- Works with Apple Home Kit, Nest, and IFTTT for home automation
- A wide range of bulbs to choose from
- Reliable and tested
You don’t need to replace all light bulbs in your space, one or two will do. Also, you’ll need a Philips Hue bridge to give you the ability to control your Hue bulbs from anywhere. So for you, I’ll recommend Philips Hue A19 Starter Kit which includes 2 smart bulbs and the Philips Hue bridge. This kit sells for $79.
There are other ways of keeping the target off of your back besides using smart lights. These articles about apartment security give some of the best tips.:
Plan B: Build Those Layers
If a burglar is brave enough to attack your place, you should have your plan B ready, and that starts with reinforcing your front door.
You should first look at securing your door lock. Burglars don’t need MacGyver skills to pick a lock. A locksmith, who’s a friend of mine, once told me that any lock can be picked. That said, I’d recommend a smart lock.
Changing out a lock may be a problem for some renters. Most smart door locks require you to replace your whole lock system. However, there are some, like August Smart Lock, that require you to replace only the interior of your door lock while keeping the exterior part intact. This is what I recommend for renters. The upside is that you have more control over who enters and exits, as well as smartphone notifications. The downside is price. But you can take it with you even if you move. Consider it an investment into your security.
Smart locks protect you by giving you access to your door lock anytime, anywhere. You can also give and take away a person’s access to your door, you giveth and you can taketh away. Using the companion app you can monitor who comes in and out, and enjoy the life of keyless entry. No more lost or stolen keys!
Equipment you will need: August Smart Door Lock
- August is one of the most reliable smart door locks.
- It can be installed without totally replacing your apartment’s lock
- Installation is a breeze and moving it is just as easy
- Compatible with most existing door locks
- Apple Home Kit enabled
August Smart Lock costs $199. You’ll also need an August Connect to enjoy remote access and control. An August Connect costs $79. That’s $180. It’s expensive, but think of the benefits. Besides, it is recommended that you replace the door lock after you move into a new apartment. If you’re going to replace your lock, why not go smart?
A good lock isn’t enough, though. While some burglars will try to pick your lock, others will forcefully try to break in. Can they really do that? Hell, yeah! In fact, around 60 percent of burglars use force to gain access to homes. Solution? Door brace.
There are many kinds of door braces. But for renters, there are really just two door braces that would be landlord friendly. Your landlord will likely approve your use of a door brace if it doesn’t involve drilling. That said, I’d recommend the Master Lock 265DCCSEN.
Unlike most door braces, the 265DCCSEN doesn’t require drilling. It works with both sliding and hinged doors. How does it work? Have you ever watched a movie where they barricade a door in home defense? This brace has the same effect. The brace’s padded foot has a pivoting ball joint which assures a full and secure grip on the floor. The other end holds the door lock in place so the door doesn’t give in easily when kicked or forced open.
The pro of using the 265DCCSEN is price and ease of installation. The downside is that it will only protect you from a home invasion, not a burglary, and it doesn’t totally kick-proof your door. In fact, it is far from being the best door brace. I recommend it because of the fact that it doesn’t need drilling, protecting your security deposit. Talk to your landlord about it, and if he’s down, go for a door jamb (or door jam) like the Door Armor (formerly known as EZ Armor). Here’s how to sell him… If your door gets kicked down, who will pay to repair the jam? Probably your landlord. Installing Door Armor will protect you, but also your landlord’s real estate investment.
Equipment you will need: Master Lock 265DCCSEN
Why Master Lock 265DCCSEN:
- Can be used without drilling or scratching floors
- Simple to use
Master Lock 265DCCSEN runs about $27. No other equipment needed and no extra fees.
Discover A Break In Real-Time
So you’ve tried to scare away burglars with smart lighting, given your door its best chance, and implemented some common sense measures. If all of that fails, a reliable home security system is your next layer in protecting your home.
Home security systems use a set of sensors to effectively detect a break in as early as when the burglar opens the door. As for choosing between a self-monitored and professionally monitored system, I recommend a professionally monitored one. That’s because such systems can send the alert not only to you, but to a monitoring center. Monitoring centers have direct contact with the police, fire department, and emergency response units, so you can get help right away.
There are many different home alarm companies today, and of those, I recommend choosing one that is wireless and will allow you to move anywhere in the United States for free. These features are both renter friendly perks. Frontpoint Home Security is one company that offers these perks. It also allows renters to sign a 12 month contract which is shorter than the industry average of 36 months. If you aren’t happy with your system, you can return it within 30 days for a 100% refund. The system is installed using a 3M adhesive, no drilling.
- Frontpoint uses 100% wireless equipment. There’s no drilling of holes during the installation process.
- 30 Day Risk Free Returns and 12 Month Contracts
- They have a friendly moving policy. They will provide you with a free moving kit which includes packaging and new adhesives if you tell them that you’re moving.
Equipment you will need: Frontpoint Security System
The total cost of having a Frontpoint system depends on which pieces of equipment you need. If you have no idea how to create the best system for your place, you can give Frontpoint a call at 855-903-7512 and they will give you buying advice. For most renters I would recommend their $99 equipment package which includes a control panel, motion sensor, 4 door and window sensors, a yard sign, and window decals. Beyond equipment, you need monitoring. Frontpoint’s monitoring plans start at $34.99 a month.
Watching Your Space Anytime, Anywhere
You security plan wouldn’t be complete without a self-monitored security camera. Why? First, you can use your camera to check in on your place anytime, anywhere. That way, you can be confident that everything is going well. Second, security cameras add additional layers of security like motion and sound detection. Added security is always appreciated. And third, it can help you catch the crooks – or even a crooked landlord.
Choosing a security camera is probably the toughest pick to make, and that’s because there are a lot of good cameras. There’s Piper with a 180-degree field of view plus sensors, Nest Cam that plays well with many home automation devices, and many others. My recommendation is Nest Cam.
Nest Cam (formerly Dropcam) is simply one of the most reliable security cameras. It is small, unobtrusive, yet powerful enough to give you a boost in security. It has 1080p resolution, a 130 degrees wide-angle field of view, motion detection, sound detection, and two-way voice. You can optionally opt in to Nest Aware (with monthly fees) to make your Nest Cam even smarter. Or if you want free cloud storage, you can use the iOS and Android app called Camio (with monthly fees). If you don’t want to add another monthly fee to the list, I recommend going with Piper. Piper offers cloud storage for free.
Equipment you will need: Nest Cam
Why Nest Cam:
- Simple yet reliable and smart
- Can play well with other home automation devices
- Can be monitored anytime, anywhere using your smartphone or any web-enabled device
- Can be upgraded with Nest Aware to make it even smarter
Nest Cam is $199. Nest Aware, which gives you 24/7 recording and smart algorithms for personal alerts, starts at $10/month.