Living in an apartment requires taking personal responsibility for one's own safety and well-being. This list provides a general safety/security assessment for the purpose of determining the safety of rental units and may not be all-inclusive. This checklist does not constitute approval or disapproval of rental units.
Download a PDF version of this checklist.
- Is the exterior of the building well lit (parking lots, stairwells, walkways)?
- Is it an upper level unit? Is there ground level access?
- Is there private parking for tenants only?
- Ask: How is this managed?
- Is there motion activated lighting outside/inside the building?
- Is shrubbery/landscaping well maintained and trimmed?
- Look: For places people could hide.
- Are there security cameras on the property?
- Ask: If so, who monitors them? Are they recorded? How long are records kept?
- Is there an on-site security presence?
- Ask: If yes, when and how many guards? What is their role and authority level?
- Are there mirrors around in and around building and in hallways to see around corners?
- Is the location accessible to campus?
- Is the route to campus safe if walking? Is there a safe bus stop near?
- Is there safe access to necessary conveniences (grocery, gas)?
Access to Unit
- Do exterior doors lock and close completely?
- Tip: Doors should not have more than a 1/8" gap between the door and jam.
- Do exterior doors have deadbolt locks?
- Does the apartment manager have an adequate key/lock policy in place?
- Ask: Who has keys to the unit? Can copies be made? Are locks changed for each tenant? Can I install my own locks? What is the lost/stolen key policy? Ask to see work order for lock change for your unit when you move in. Ask about master key policy-has master key set ever been lost? If yes, how was it handled?
- Do exterior doors have additional locking mechanisms (self-closing/self-latching, chain)?
- Do exterior doors have peepholes? Are they wide-angle (160 degree) viewers? If no, can they install one?
- Tip: Keep peephole covered from interior so nobody can see in.
- Is there a doorbell/buzzer/intercom? Do they work? Do delivery services have interior access to building?
- Is there a "no door propping policy" in place? Are there signs reminding tenants to secure doors behind them and to not allow tailgating?
- Ask: How are rules enforced?
- Do interior (bedroom/bathroom) doors have working locks?
- Do the windows close completely and lock?
- Are there screens in all of the windows? Do they have holes or tears?
- Does the sliding glass door lock? Does the screen lock? Is a secondary security device provided for sliding glass door?
- Tip: Insist on secondary lock mechanism for sliding glass doors (Charley bar, pin lock, anti-lift measures)
- Are ground level windows protected by bars that can be opened from the inside?
- Is the laundry/storage area secured?
- Ask: Who has keys to the laundry/storage area? What about prior tenants? Is it well lit 24 hours per day? If there is no on-site laundry, is the facility close by safe?
- Are maintenance workers background checked?
Fire and Life Safety
- Are there working smoke detectors in each building/room? Who is responsible for changing the batteries?
- Is a fire extinguisher provided?
- What type of phone access is there to local 911 services?
- Is each building and unit clearly marked and easy for emergency personnel to find?
- What police/fire department responds in the event of an emergency?
- Is there a window/exit in each bedroom?
- Consider: How would you exit in the event of a fire?
Other Safety Considerations
- Are tenants background checked?
- Ask: What is policy on renting to people with criminal background?
- Are there sufficient blinds/drapes that close completely for privacy?
- Are there neighbors close by that you can contact in the event of an emergency?
- Is there a safety/neighborhood watch program in place?
- Ask: How are safety requests/concerns handled?
- What is the mail/package delivery policy? Are names on the mailboxes?
- Tip: Never list your name or a single name on the mailbox. Use initials.
- Is the dumpster area in plain sight and well-lit?
Things to do before signing a lease:
- What is the crime like in the area. Check crime map, registered sex offenders and statistics.
- Visit the complex/neighborhood multiple times at different times of day to check the environment. Look to see if people regularly prop doors open and what activity level there is.
- Ask for references or talk to other tenants.
- Utilize a utility timer to turn lights on automatically when you are away.
- Purchase additional security products to enhance safety.
The information contained on this website is intended as an informational resource for University students considering off-campus housing and is not intended to endorse any of the facilities, services, publications or linked websites.