5 Things Tenants Need to Know About Security
Guest article by Ralph Goodman
Whether you are a new tenant or a serial renter, there are several things that you need to know about your security. It does not matter if it is burglary or natural disasters. There are certain dos and don’ts that can make you a whole lot safer.
1. Yard Maintenance Increases Safety
One of the most shocking revelations for most tenants is how much basic yard maintenance will do to improve their home security. The first thing that it does is send a message that you care about the property. Criminals do not want to steal from people that care. People that take steps to improve and maintain their homes also invest in monitored alarms, security cameras, and high-security locks. It begins with this mental warfare, but that is not where it ends.
Trimming trees above the top of the window, and making sure any plants, bushes, and shrubs are trimmed below the bottom of the window will improve your line of sight around the property. You should also be sure that all bushes a flush against walls so there is not an area where a criminal can hide. No criminal wants to be seen, and reducing visual obstacles will do wonders to create an uninviting atmosphere from burglars. These precautions will also decrease fire hazards. By removing dry brush and dead foliage, the chance of a fire spreading or catching will be greatly diminished.
2. You Can Voice Your Concerns to Your Property Manager
When it comes to security, no one has a better interest in maintaining it than your property manager. You may not have an amazing property manager, or you may not think that they care about you, but you can be certain that they care about crime. It reflects poorly on the property and the management if your residence is burgled. A string of criminal activity in the area is also sure to lower the overall property value, which Managers have a vested interest in preventing.
Bring any security threats that you think are relevant to your property manager. They will have sound advice for you. If you are very passionate about your perceived threat, always have a solution to propose. The more actionable your insight is, the quicker your fears can be resolved. Think of your property manager as a member of your team. In order to get what you both want, you need to work together. By this same logic, you should not withhold information from your property manager. Their experience as a property manager may detect flaws in the security that you do not.
3. Clutter is Dangerous
When the interior of a home is difficult to move around in, it is a safety hazard. In the same way that fire marshals will enter an event that has reached its occupational capacity, there is a similar concern for residences. This type of governmental oversight is used to ensure that people are not placed at risk in the event of an emergency. In an overly cluttered house, it is more difficult for residents to evacuate during an emergency. Depending on where you live, this type of material accumulation may also be an earthquake hazard.
It is not just you that is in danger when the house is too full of stuff. You are also endangering any pets or guests that may be over. Thirdly it is a safety risk for any rescue team entering the property. Emergency responders can be injured while trying to navigate blocked pathways. In very extreme circumstances, these individuals can even be trapped, resulting in death. Clutter is not to be taken lightly. Make sure that there is plenty of space inside your home for people to move around and that no walkways, exits, or entry points are blocked.
4. Lights and Curtains Advertise To Burglars
When you close or open your blinds, or turn your lights on and off, you are sending a message to anyone who is viewing your home. It is up to you what that message is. When your lights are on, it does give the appearance that someone is in the home. (Unless it is obvious that no one is.) At night, interior lights act to obscure anything outside the home while projecting the inside of the home perfectly to the rest of the world. Blinds should be closed at night if the effectiveness of interior lights is to be used while no one is in the home.
Make sure that you are consistent about curtain and light usage. If you only close your blinds when you leave your home, then it becomes a dead giveaway to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention that you are gone. The same goes with lights. Make sure they are one and off, in the same way, every day no matter where you are. This can be taken care of with home automation devices or by getting a house sitter. Just make sure that breaking your routine is not a dead giveaway that you are not home.
5. The Front Door Is Most Important
Most burglaries are prevented or assisted by the security of the front door. Most of the time criminals are looking to commit easy break-ins. They do not want to work hard to get in, and they want to be able to get out easily. The most obvious place for them to approach first is the front door. Often burglars will pose as door-to-door salesmen, ringing the doorbell to assess if anyone is home. Then they might simply check to see if the door has been unlocked. The first thing that any tenant can do to increase their safety, is to simply use all of the security measures that are already installed (lock your doors).
After the easy work is shown not to be fruitful, the criminal is going to assess the simplicity of entering by more illicit means. Most often they will try something quick like breaking the door down or breaking a window that will allow them to manipulate the locks. You should make sure that your door has been properly strengthened, and that your door locks are not in arms reach of any glass. To strengthen a door you must use a solid core door, increase the metal content around the lock hardware, and lengthen the screws for both the hinges and strike plates. In cases where you cannot move the door away from glass openings, it is best to install double-sided deadbolts. A double-sided deadbolt cannot be opened with anything other than the key. Do not leave the key in the interior deadbolt, or this will defeat its purpose. Know that installing a double-sided deadbolt will mean that the door can no longer be used as an exit in emergencies. All of this should be done only after you have received the go ahead from your property manager. Ideally, the process should be handled by a locksmith who is proficient at changing locks for houses.
By looking after your front yard, keeping your lighting and curtain habits consistent, decreasing clutter inside your home, talking to your property manager, and taking care of your front door, you will be better protected. Make sure that you take the steps today to ensure that you and everything you care about is as safe as can be.