We’ve all heard the saying “our home is our castle” and castles were built to protect the things inside them. In most cases, that’s going to be our families, and the possessions we’ve worked to obtain. Unfortunately, not everyone sees things the way we do. They figure that it’s easier to take those possessions from us, rather than work for them themselves. However, installing security systems for rental homes helps ensure your home’s safety, even if you don’t own it.
Security Systems for Rental Homes
Taking measures to secure your residence is always prudent, regardless of what kind of neighborhood you live in. What measures those are may depend on whether you own your own property or are renting.
Renters are going to have a lot more limitations than a homeowner, as they’ll be limited in what, if any, permanent modifications they can make to their rental home. If it’s an apartment you may be further limited to only being able to secure your particular apartment. Not the outside space, doorways, or hallways of the building.
We’ll take a look at some noninvasive resources that you can get as a renter. But let’s look at some background on burglaries first.
The Truth About Burglary
Let me preface this section by saying that I’ve been in law enforcement and the criminal justice field for over 25 years. For over a decade I was a detective in a county agency, and probably handled hundreds of burglaries in that time. I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I can give you some insight into what I experienced.
I know a lot of folks are confident in their abilities to handle a burglar with their trusty 12 gauge or tricked out M4, and pack of Rottweilers. That’s great if you’re home during the burglary, but the fact is, most of the time you aren’t.
Burglars know this is America and their chances of running into an armed homeowner are pretty good. So, they tend to hit residences when no one is home, like in the middle of the afternoon, while you’re at work and your kids are at school.
Businesses are just the opposite; they will hit those at night after closing, so they don’t get plugged by a clerk with a .38. True home invasions are rare in most places and usually involve drug dealers or drug debt. Sometimes it’s just despicable folks who prey on old people assuming they’ll be less likely to resist.
So, your body armor, NVGs, and battle buddy attack dog may not be as useful as you’d hoped? Now what? Let’s take a look at some things, such as security systems for rental homes, you can do to harden your home and make it a more difficult target.
Before I do that though, I’m not saying don’t have a home defense plan or don’t be armed. There are always exceptions to the general rule, and it pays to be prepared.
Do it Yourself Deterrents
A good place to start is simple, do it yourself deterrents. Although they do not provide actual security or defense, they may be enough to scare away would-be intruders. And they are typically on the less expensive side, for those on a tight budget.
First Alert Motion-Sensing Light Socket
A really inexpensive and easy setup is something like the First Alert Motion Sensing Lights socket. Just screw it into an existing socket, use the bulb of your choice, and you’re done with the setup. This product only lights up the room when it detects movement, but it may give pause to someone coming through the window.
Check out First Alert for where to buy, but the price is generally only $20-$25.
For more information, please visit FirstAlert.com.
Sabre Door Handle Alarm
The Sabre Door Handle Alarm is another very inexpensive security product that’s easy to use. Just slip it over your doorknob and set the alarm. If the door opens it sets off a 110dB siren audible up to 600 feet away. As a result, it will startle any would-be burglar and let anyone else in the area know something is up. These are designed for travel but would work just fine in small apartments or areas with limited access points.
They only cost $11.99 each, too.
For more information, please visit SabreRed.com.
GE Door and Window Sensor (4-Pack)
Another really easy setup is the GE Door and Window sensor kits. They come in a variety of options but the basic apartment one is a 4 pack that includes three window/door sensors and a deluxe door sensor with control pad. They are battery-operated and come with all the mounting hardware. So, it’s an easy, wire-free installation.
They have a control with a 4-digit code that you can set, and you have three settings available: off, chime, and a 120-decibel alarm. Any time a door or window opens with one of the sensors attached and armed, it will set off the alarm. These are available from a variety of sources online and at local hardware stores.
The price for the 4 pack is about $30.
For more information, please visit Lowes.com.
Honeywell C1 Wireless Smart Indoor Security Camera
There are a lot of camera systems available now but the Honeywell C1 has a nice mix of features for a reasonable price. It’s a 720p high def camera with a wide-angle lens and night vision capability. It uses Wi-Fi and connects with your phone to let you know if it detects motion. You can monitor the camera manually using the Honeywell Home App on your phone, as well. It can be placed on a table/shelf or mounted on a wall. The system will work with multiple cameras, should you want to cover more than one room.
The C1 uses Wi-Fi to connect to your phone and the free cloud storage that stores the last 24 hours of video. But in the event that Wi-Fi is down, it comes with an 8gb SD card for local storage.
The cost of a single C1 is around $100 and they can be found at local brick and mortar stores or online.
For more information, please visit HoneywellHome.com.
Monitored Security Systems
The last category is the most expensive one. But it ensures someone is always tracking your alarms and can dispatch the police directly if needed. The nice thing about these systems is that someone else is monitoring them even if you’re otherwise occupied. Some of these also incorporate smoke detectors and CO2 detectors as well, so you’re getting protections beyond just break-ins.
Typically, these systems have more extensive installation but there are still many options available that don’t require hardwiring and can be done by the renter themselves.
If you do some research on security companies, especially ones geared towards renters, you’ll see the same names pop up over and over. Cove, Ring, SimpliSafe, Frontpoint, and Wyze are the ones that people are talking about.
There are absolutely other options as well, but these are probably good places to start. Initial equipment cost tends to run from around $100 to $400, depending on the company and the number of sensors and cameras you pick.
Monthly ministering fees can run from $15 to $60 per month, again depending on the company and exact coverage. Some companies allow you to go on a month-to-month plan where you can cancel at any time, while others require yearly plans. It may be worth matching a plan up with your rental lease so that you don’t end up paying for coverage that you don’t need.
Since these systems don’t require permanent installation, you can pack them up and take them with you when you move. Whether it’s to a new apartment or a home that you purchase.
Cove Indoor Camera Home Security System
Cove has a variety of home security systems available, but their basic kit comes with 1 Cove Touch Alarm Panel, 4 Door Sensors, 4 Window Sensors, 2 Motion Detectors, 2 Security Key Remotes, 1 Flood Sensor, and 1 Free HD Indoor Camera. This set up is a wireless, easy to install kit that currently goes for around $250 from Cove. Various kits and individual components are available through Cove or from local and online stores as well.
Monitoring costs are around $25 per month for Cove Plus, which monitors alarms and cameras, or $14.99 per month if you just want the alarms monitored. No contract is required with the Cove system.
For more information, please visit CoveSmart.com.
The basic Safehouse kit includes 1 Frontpoint Hub and Keypad, 2 Door/Window Sensors, and 1 Motion Sensor. The system works with the Frontline app, which gives you step by step installation instructions. The Safehouse kit is currently listed at $129, although deciphering how much monitoring plans actually cost isn’t extremely clear on their website.
Other sources list monitoring costs at $49.99 per month and a three-year contract.
For more information, please visit FrontpointSecurity.com.
Ring 5 Piece Alarm Security Kit
Ring is probably one of the more popular home security systems on the market. Their basic 5 piece Alarm Kit consists of a Base Station, a Keypad, a Contact Sensor, a Motion Detector, and a Range Extender. The kit runs $199.99, and you have the option to add on other sensors, cameras and items as needed. Set up is do it yourself, with no tools required and you control and view your system through the Ring App.
You don’t need a monitoring plan with Ring, you can self-monitor through the app. If you do want a professionally monitored plan, they have them, starting at $20 per month.
For more information, please visit Ring.com.
SimpliSafe – the Essentials Kit
A lot of you probably know SimpliSafe from their TV commercials. They have the Essentials Kit which consists of 1 Base Station, 1 Keypad, 3 Entry Sensors, and one 1 Motion Sensor for $219.96, as of this writing. Other kits or custom-built kits are options too, if you need more sensors or other components. SimpliSafe installation doesn’t require any tools or drilling and can be done in a few minutes.
No contract is needed with SimpliSafe, and you can choose between a self-monitoring plan that preserves video for only .33 cents per day and an active monitoring plan for .93 cents per day. You can also self-monitor with the SimpliSafe system.
For more information, please visit SimpliSafe.com.
Wyze Home Monitoring and Wyze Sense v2 Core Starter Kit
The Wyze home security devices are often listed as the most affordable, as they have reasonable up-front cost, and very affordable monthly fees. A starter kit (available through Amazon) runs for only about $100 and includes a Hub, Keypad, Motion sensor, 2 Entry Sensors, and 6 Months of 24/7 Professional Monitoring.
Monthly plans are currently as low as $4.99 per month. No long term contract is required. Installation is simple and tool free, and you can control the app and view any cameras you add from your phone.
For more information, please visit Prod.Services.Wyze.com.
Rental Property Defense 101
Burglaries are hard to solve. The national solve rate according to the FBI is only about 13.5%. That jives with my experience. The big reason why is because these are typically crimes committed when no one is around. Likewise, if the burglar is smart, they take items that aren’t easily traced and that they can turn for a quick profit. Cameras absolutely help in solving crime and I suspect we’ll see slightly higher solve rates as more and more people invest in home security systems, even for rental homes.
Take a look at your apartment or rental home. Do a self-security assessment and look at what you physically can do to harden your home. Check your lease or check with your landlord to see what you’re permitted to do, and then go from there.
Some of these techniques don’t cost any money, or very minimal amounts. Even the full security systems have some very affordable options, so don’t assume you can’t afford it. Do some research, check out some of the security systems for rental homes we talked about, and find a solution that’s right for you and your family.