Tips for Renting a Safer Place to Live

Make safety a priority when looking for the perfect apartment.

Signing a lease legally locks you into paying rent for a specific time, so make sure to search for a place that’s safe, secure and somewhere you’d enjoy living long-term. Follow these tips to ensure your safety:

Go with a friend. Have someone accompany you to tours or showings — especially if you found the apartment online.

Find the right neighborhood. Research online to get an idea of incidents in the area. You also can contact local police to inquire about the number and nature of calls in the neighborhood they’ve responded to.

Look for upper-floor units. Ground-floor apartments are easier targets for thieves. Other things to look for include operable screened windows that lock, and a fire escape that can be pulled off the ground when not in use.

Check for safety devices. Your apartment should have a solid wood or steel exterior door, with a keyless deadbolt and a peephole. (The landlord should have locks changed or rekeyed with each new renter.) The apartment also should have working smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and a carbon monoxide alarm — this is particularly important if gas appliances are installed.

Consider the apartment complex. In addition to the individual apartment, it’s important to look at safety measures in place throughout the entire community. Are main entry doors kept locked? Does the intercom work? Are there security cameras? Are common areas, including the parking lot, well-lit?

Pick a trustworthy landlord. Don’t be shy about asking questions. Landlords can tell you how long other tenants lived in the apartment, and other renters can provide insight about building management. It’s also a good sign if the landlord conducts a background check when you submit your application. That means other tenants have probably been just as carefully considered.

Make sure you’re covered. Your landlord’s insurance doesn’t protect your personal property, so invest in renters insurance. You can get loss and liability protection — including insurance coverage on items in your car.

Ready to move in? Follow these tips to avoid moving day nightmares