While many people think of home security measures as being necessary only for single-family dwellings, it’s critical to take precautions that will keep your family and your possessions safe from harm no matter what kind of structure you call home. If you live in an apartment or condo, you can actually take many of the same security measures as those who live in single-family homes. Of course, there are special considerations you need to make since you’re in such close quarters with your neighbors, and there are even more factors to keep in mind if you’re a renter. Our guide offers information on the most effective home security options for your apartment or condo.

Install a wireless DIY home security system

Contrary to what some believe, you can have a security system in your apartment or condo even if you rent — you just need to choose a brand that doesn’t permanently attach any hardware to the property. For example, most DIY wireless systems use a portable keypad or home base rather than wall-based versions. Many of the highest-rated options, including SimpliSafe and FrontPoint, also have apps that you can connect to when you’re not home, making them just as comprehensive as home security systems that require professional installation.

However, there are some features of home security systems you should avoid whether you own or rent your condo or apartment. For example, exterior motion-sensored floodlights are a great way to illuminate the outside of your home, and outdoor alarms can thwart a would-be intruder’s plans of breaking into your home. But because both can be extremely disruptive to neighbors living in close proximity — especially if they’re activated by mistake or when you’re not home — these are better left out of home security systems in multi-family units.

Use a video doorbell

Video doorbells have surged in popularity over the last few years. It’s no wonder: they add a great layer of security and come in a variety of price ranges to meet every consumer’s needs. It’s important to note that these devices are designed to replace an existing doorbell. While they can be installed in homes that don’t have a doorbell, doing so requires drilling into the exterior of the home, which isn’t an option for most people who rent apartments.

Similarly, you may be restricted from using cameras in common areas of apartment and condo communities, so be sure to talk to your management organization before adding one. If they approve, it’s courteous for apartment owners to notify their neighbor living directly across the hall that they’ll be using a video doorbell. The odds are that they’ll appreciate the security measure that they’ll ultimately benefit from, but if they don’t, have a letter of approval from your community leader ready.   

Get to know your neighbors

When you have a relationship with those who live around you, you create a natural support system of people who will keep an eye out for any suspicious behavior. Asking a trusted neighbor to pick up your packages and grab your mail is also a great way to keep your apartment or condo secure when you go out of town, since accumulated mail or boxes by the door is a quick way to let thieves know that no one’s home.

Cover your windows

Add blinds or window shades for extra privacy, especially if you live in a condo or a lower-level apartment. In addition to not letting passersby see inside, you ideally also don’t want to make it obvious as to whether or not your interior lights are on; burglars often target properties that look uninhabited, so making it impossible to tell if the inside of your home is dark can make the idea of intruding into your home seem risky.

Put door stop alarms at every exterior entrance

A door stop alarm is an inexpensive device that wedges under your door and activates an alarm when someone attempts to open it. Putting one at every entrance before you go to bed at night is a great way to scare off unwelcome visitors without the need to install permanent fixtures.

Talk to your management office, landlord, homeowners association, or co-op board

If there are home security measures you feel are necessary but that you’re not currently authorized to put in place, talk to the powers at be in your building or community to see if they’re willing to let you add more permanent fixtures. Better yet, gather a few neighbors who have the same concerns so you can all present your case together.

Some of the modest changes you might consider proposing include: 

  • Installing deadbolts and chain locks on doors
  • Adding peepholes to front doors
  • Upgrading windows to versions that lock
  • Moving door hinges that are on the exterior of your home to the inside
  • Landscaping to remove tall shrubs from the front of the home where intruders can hide 

Whether you have an apartment in the city or a condo in the suburbs, you need more than a great renters or homeowners insurance policy to protect your home and family. Consider investing in a home security system that meets the needs of your living situation, making a few DIY privacy upgrades, and creating a coalition of advocates. If you’re barred from adding essential safety features per your rental agreement or HOA rules, discuss the matter with your residence’s authority. It’s in everyone’s best interest to keep your community safe, and speaking up can be an important first step in establishing a more secure building and neighborhood.