Searching for a new apartment can be an exciting process, but there’s a lot of things to keep in mind. You want your new place to feel safe and inviting. But how can you tell if your new apartment is the right one for you? Aside from the obvious location, price, and amenities people first consider, it’s important to recognize the safety of a potential apartment as well. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind before, and after, you find a new apartment.

Landlord Credentials

One of the most important things to do before renting an apartment is to check your landlord’s credentials. A legitimate rental company will have a professional website and licenses for all their properties. It is easy to find out if your landlord has these credentials online by Googling their name. It is also a good idea to ask residents about the landlord.

Entrance to the Complex

A gated entrance can be an excellent deterrent for thieves, but they aren’t all created equal. Check the hours, if any, that the gates are open during the day. Gates that use a clicker are often more secure than a passcode entry, since only the residents can have access.  Check out the apartment public areas, like the pool and gym. These should also require a key or access code. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the complex’s security features.

General Maintenance

Apartment grounds that are well maintained are a good sign of safety and a better experience overall. Take a look at fences on the property to make sure they’re not broken or missing boards. Overgrown landscaping, peeling paint, and broken lights are a dead giveaway for neglected apartment spaces.

Local Crime Rates

When touring a new apartment complex, research what crime rates are like in the area. Ask your landlord about the noise level and nightlife. If you’re an active person who likes to stay out late, make sure it’s a safe neighborhood for you to walk around in.  Avoid apartment complexes near abandoned buildings or factories, since they will often attract unwanted activity. 

Now that you’ve decided where you want to live, there are some steps to take toward making your own apartment safer.

Purchase Renter’s Insurance

​​Though landlords have rental insurance to cover the building you live in, this will not cover your personal property. Most landlords require their tenants to have renter’s insurance, but you should invest in it regardless. Renter’s insurance is an inexpensive policy that covers theft, damage, and loss of personal belongings. Don’t wait until you have a horror story about pipes bursting and flooding your apartment. Have renter’s insurance ready the day you move in.

Make Sure Doors and Windows Are Secure

Make sure all your windows and doors are sealed tightly. Make sure all locks work properly. Bolt locks work best on windows, while deadbolts are better for doors. Consider getting a door chain (with your landlord’s permission) to put across the door when you’re home alone, or at night to prevent any unwanted visitors. 

Make sure you have blinds on all your windows, and keep them shut at night and early in the morning when it’s still dark. Be mindful of what can be seen when your blinds are open. It’s not uncommon for thieves to “window shop” before robbing an apartment. Don’t leave valuable items in the window’s line of sight. 

Don’t Forget to Lock Up

There’s no use checking the locks on your apartment if you don’t use them. If you’re leaving your apartment for any period of time, even just to walk the dog outside, make sure all doors and windows are locked. Just because it is daytime outside, doesn’t mean thieves aren’t out there waiting to take advantage of busy citizens.

Meet Your Neighbors

Get to know the people living around you and exchange numbers in case of an emergency. Make sure you stay connected to the neighborhood by getting to know your neighbors and looking out for each other. If something seems off, report suspicious activity right away. You can also encourage crime awareness among others through social media or handing out flyers letting people know how to prevent theft.

Keep Your Balcony Clean

Your balcony is a place to get fresh air, not a storage unit. If you have a lot of personal items on your balcony, consider moving items inside, or asking the landlord about a storage room. Thieves will often climb balconies to gain access to open windows and unlocked doors. Your balcony acts as a preview of what you may have in your home. Keep it clean and well lit at night.

Consider Investing in a Safe

If you have valuable items that you keep in your rented apartment, it might be worth investing in a safe. A small safe (under 10 pounds) should suffice, but this will vary from person to person. A safe will also protect personal paperwork from fires. If this is your first time purchasing a safe, here are some helpful things to consider.

It is important to consider the safety of your apartment before, and after, you move in. By scoping out a potential apartment complex and analyzing the security and maintenance, you’ll be one step ahead in securing your rented space. After moving in, be sure to keep doors locked, windows closed, and valuables stored away. Create a community by getting to know your neighbors, and make sure you’re all prepared with these top safety tips.