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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

Apartment Security: 12 Easy Ways To Improve The Protection Of Your Apartment

by Ralph July 17, 2017
Apartment Complex Exterior

The security of a house has different considerations than something like apartment security. There is surely some level of overlap, but if you are looking to improve the overall quality of your apartment complex security, you need to know some of the easy ways to protect your apartment.

1. Use High-Security Locks

Security Door Lock

One of the easiest ways to improve apartment security is to use the best door locks available on the market. You are likely to have a lock from one of the trusted lock manufacturers, but just because it is a name you know, it does not mean that what is on your door is the best choice for your needs. It is important to know if the basic apartment complex security is using the wrong locks. This does not just mean that the lock is poorly made. The type of lock being used on a door can be wrong for many different reasons.

Different types of apartment layouts can have specific threats they are likely to face, but kicking attacks are often the most common form of forced entry. So when you are looking for a door lock to improve your apartment security, it is best to look into how much force a deadbolt can withstand. The benefit of apartment complex security is that living so close to your neighbors increases the chance of third-party intervention, so if forced entry takes too long or is too loud, it is likely to garner some attention.

The desire on the part of criminals for more covert entry may force you to consider the cost to change existing locks to something with more picking resistance. However, it is more advantageous to invest in locks that will prevent lock bumping. All locks can be picked, but it is extremely rare to encounter this method of covert entry. Bump key protection, and getting locks, which are effectively bump proof will increase picking resistance as well as protect against a more prevalent threat. You will need to consult with the building supervisor for information on how lock changes can be handled, as there may be restrictions.

Key Takeaways:

  • The locks already installed on your apartment may not be ideal, let alone high-security.
  • Locks should use solid metal construction to prevent the success of bludgeoning attacks.
  • A lock that prevents lock bumping will also offer pick resistance.
  • This type of upgrade may be restricted depending on the rules of your apartment building.

2. Secure Windows

Not every apartment will need to worry about the security of their windows. If there are no fire escapes and the unit is several stories off the ground, access to the window will be treacherous. But apartments come in all types of styles, some of which even position front windows next to doors. Windows that face the street on the first few stories of an apartment complex can also be extremely vulnerable to exploitation and weaken your apartment security. If your windows are vulnerable, it is important to secure them.

Something as extreme as putting bars over your window is rarely preferable to occupants or landlords. It has the potential to send a negative message about the overall apartment complex security and can detract from an otherwise pleasing visual aesthetic. To achieve a similar level of protection, you can invest in window security film that applies to the glass with no overtly visible trace. A number of companies make this kind of film, with a range of strength differentials. The highest quality products will keep the glass from shattering after several impacts. Even punctures made to the glass will not fully compromise the rest of the pane. The sound of an impact that would allow someone access through a window secured like this would surely alert neighbors that your apartment security is under siege.

A more standard type of window protection are window locks. These devices are rarely well maintained, so if the apartment security has not been updated in awhile, you might need to undergo some level of window lock repair. If the locks on your windows have simple bypasses due to the use of insecure latching mechanisms, it might be best to upgrade them. Window security that is subtle is often not an issue when you bring up with building management.

Key Takeaways:

  • Not every unit’s windows are vulnerable to being used as entry points for burglars.
  • Security film is a more subtle protection than metal bars.
  • Window locks should be in good working order and protect against common bypass methods.

3. Strengthen Your Door

There are several easy ways to strengthen your doors without spending a lot of money, and without changing the appearance of your doors. Strengthening an existing front door is a very effective and subtle way to improve apartment security. Your front door plays a huge role in your security, as it is often the last boundary between the outside world and your property. A tremendous amount of security can be added to this indispensable part of your security with just a few screws. It is that easy, and then there is always more you can do after that.

With three-inch screws replacing the standard half-inch screws that secure your strike plate and hinges, you will be relatively well protected. Basic kicking attacks will take much longer to compromise the door. In fact, the door might break before it truly opens. So, of course, you need a strong solid core door to start with, but it is often illegal, or severely frowned upon, for apartments to use hollow-core doors (intended for interior use). Make sure your door is up to the basic level of apartment security.

Some apartment complex security already includes security screens that add an additional door in front of your wooden door. It is important to make sure that this security screen is up to the task of preventing a forced entry attack. If you do not have a security screen, you can inquire about your ability to have one installed. Due to the look of these screens, property managers may have similar reservations to allow them as they would have to bar windows. It is important that your apartment security is not restricted by the building management.

Key Takeaways:

  • Use three-inch screws to secure your door hinges and strike plates.
  • Make sure that the front door has a solid core.
  • Consider installing a security screen along with your existing front door.

4. Report Observed Vulnerabilities

Apartment security does not begin at your unit’s front door. In a complex, the weakest link in the chain affects your security. It is not just about getting your apartment security up to date, but also about improving the entire apartment complex security. When you are aware of the break-in statistics, you can better understand the risks confronting all properties. However, in an apartment complex, the homes are connected, so it is important to keep an eye out for issues with the parameter security of your building.

Good gate security is invaluable to making sure that unauthorized persons do not ever gain access to your front door. Often apartment security is purposefully neglected by the residents as it is commonly seen as a hindrance to social gatherings. It is a pain to keep letting people through the apartment complex security when that security is too effective. It is also seen as a hassle to open door after door when you are bringing up groceries, shopping bags, etc. Often renters will begin working to find holes that they can exploit for the sake of convenience.

When you see how the apartment security is being ignored or bypassed, you have to bring it to the attention of the building supervisor. Because people inside and outside are looking to undermine apartment security, you need to report anything you see or experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Keeping strangers out of the apartment complex is the first step towards better apartment security.
  • Gates and other barriers to entry may be inconvenient at times, but if undermined they will weaken overall apartment security.
  • Report every bypass you see being used and any breakdowns in the apartment complex security.

5. Proper Parking

Parking Lot Safety

When you are living in an apartment, finding a place to park can be hard enough without considering how parking plays a role in your overall apartment security. Not every automobile has the security of a Tesla, so you need to take the necessary precautions against theft. The first thing that you can do is make sure no bags or valuables are left in the car. Even if there is nothing in the bag, criminals have been known to break a window just to check. A shortcoming of most apartment security is that many no longer have protected parking lots, so street parking is a necessity.

In the case of motorcycles, this kind of predicament can be devastating. Motorcycle security is very vulnerable if you are reliably placing the vehicle in less than ideal situations. To a similar degree, bicycle security is best handled by bringing the bike in with you to the apartment itself. This is not an option with your motorcycle or your car. And in the case of a motorcycle, the ignition and wiring are on full display, and due to the unreliable parking, having a good anchor point for your chain may not be possible. A simple brake lock for consistent overnight parking is not recommended.

The best thing that you can do to get the most out of your apartment security is to park your vehicle in a well-lit area with a fair amount of foot traffic. You do not want to park in an abandoned area. The fewer pedestrians, the more it will encourage a criminal to take the chance of stealing your automobile, or even something in it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Visible items stored in cars can lead to your vehicle being targeted.
  • Motorcycles and bicycles can be stolen much easier than cars.
  • Park where people can see your vehicle, and let public visibility discourage theft.

6. Have A Conversation With Key Holders

It is not just your landlord and/or property manager that can have a key to your apartment. Many people these days are sharing their apartment with one or more roommates. And if you are living alone, your super, and other people that hold a key in a professional capacity, may still not be the only ones with access. You may give a neighbor, a friend, or a family member a spare key in case you ever find yourself locked out of your apartment.

In the case of roommates, your co-inhabitants could be your very own children. There are many ways your kids might be compromising your home security, but their handling of their key is a major factor. Apartment security is only as reliable as the people that have control over it. This can be even more difficult if the keys are not physical. In the case of electronic locks, codes are difficult to control and almost impossible to track. A physical key has to be made and then can be returned. But once a code is given once, it is out and whoever knows it can tell anyone. Codes are the easiest keys to lose control over. But something like a smart lock might work better if you need digital locks instead of traditional locks.

Key Takeaways:

  • Everyone with a key to your apartment needs to be on the same page about the security you are hoping to maintain.
  • People with keys could be roommates, apartment management, children, and anyone trusted with a spare.
  • Codes are the easiest keys to lose track of.

7. Use a Safe

As mentioned above, there are many people that may have access to your apartment simply by circumstance. You may want greater security for your most valuable items, so a safe can be a great addition to your apartment security. If you would just like to signal to people that they should not have access to something, you could opt for a lockbox and not a safe. However, if you are hoping to prevent burglary and get some level of fire protection, you will want to look into getting one of the best safes on the market.

There are also some additional steps you can take to protect your safe once you have it. Bolting your safe down is a great first step in maximizing apartment security, but that may not be an option in your complex. It may also be impossible to install the safe inside a wall or floor. These are great methods to obscure and secure the safe, but they require an amount of structural change that can be understandably undesired by the property owners.

Key Takeaways:

  • Safes can be used to protect valuables from people that may have legal or illegal access to your unit.
  • Lockboxes are a suitable choice for signaling the desire for controlled access but does not add much to physical apartment security.
  • Methods for protecting a safe can be restricted by the property owner’s desires or even the physical construction of the complex/unit.

8. Installing an Alarm

Security alarms have become incredibly popular in recent decades for various types of residential buildings. And for most renters, they will not be able to even consider if they should get a dog or an alarm, as pets are commonly restricted. By that same token of commonality, there may already be an alarm installed to assist with apartment security. In cases where there an alarm is currently functioning, or even if you are looking to get a brand new set up, it is good to know some of the particulars about it.

One of the first things to find out is whether or not it is a monitored alarm. The main reason to have an alarm in this day and age is so that it can contact the relevant parties to thwart a criminal. You might also want to receive alarm trigger notifications to your smartphone, as your response time could, in some cases, be faster than a private security company or even the police. There may be some restrictions on the types alarms you can use do to issues of close cohabitation, but a loud alarm is great for apartment security (if you can use one). Even if someone is coming to your door angry about the noise, they are still coming to the door.

Key Takeaways:

  • Find out about any existing alarms used for apartment complex security.
  • Monitored alarms are ideal as they assure someone will be notified when your apartment security is compromised.
  • A loud alarm ensures that someone will respond to an incident.

9. Effectively Placing Security Cameras

It is unlikely that you will be able to place security cameras all around the perimeter of your unit, but there are still ways use surveillance equipment for improved apartment security. The main focus will be in documenting existing threats and not in discouragement of crime through signage of obvious camera placement. Of course, there are certain things you need to know before buying a security camera, in regards to certain restrictions you should be aware of.

In terms of properly placing your camera, it is important to understand the restrictions of the camera you are using. Make sure that you are using the best security cameras possible. Good, cost-effective, options range from the Nest Cam to the Piper. Conceal the existence of the camera. Check the footage regularly. Use any footage beyond trying to prosecute criminal behavior, and try to understand how to prevent the same type of crime from affecting you. Use cameras to monitor all possible entrances, and also place them to show the faces of anyone interacting with the areas of the apartment that hold the items with the value.

Key Takeaways:

  • Security cameras are intended for documentation and not preventative apartment security.
  • Check footage regularly and make changes when a vulnerability is discovered.
  • Place cameras to monitor entrances and valuables.

10. Utilizing Proper Lighting

Lights in and around the property can be used in several ways for apartment security. One such use is for exposure. Exterior lighting is a great way to show everyone around the building what is going on. It helps to make any suspicious activity more obvious to other residents and pedestrians. Criminals love to hide behind cover and in shadows. How foliage and exterior design is handled may not be up for debate with your apartment complex, but more adequate lighting could be negotiated.

Items like motion sensor lights are usually recommended because they draw the eye with their sudden illumination, but chances are they are not a good fit for your apartment security. Chances are the foot traffic for your building is relatively sporadic, in terms of the times of day people are coming and going, so motion activated lights are likely to create security fatigue and provide temporary darkness between the lights cycling off and on again.

Interior lighting will be a much more important factor. With new smart devices, you can remotely control the lights in your apartment. You can also set timers that keep lights on and then shut them off. This all creates the illusion that someone is home when you might still be out. A space that unoccupied is often preferred by criminals to one that is, so this will discourage burglars. In terms of apartment security, nothing much beats the illusion that someone is home.

Key Takeaways:

  • Criminals seek darkness and cover to keep their illegal acts from being seen.
  • Motion sensor lights are rarely effective for apartment complex security.
  • Interior lighting for your apartment unit can discourage criminals by making it seem as though someone is home.

11. Perform Regular Maintenance

One of the biggest threats to your apartment security is having the current safety measures in place breaking down due to natural wear and tear. Nothing lasts forever, but that does not mean that you cannot extend the lifespan of your apartment security devices. Also, these things deteriorate before they stop working outright. When your apartment security is not functioning at its highest capacity your protection cannot be relied upon, but you might also be placing yourself at unnecessary risk.

Doors that stick, or locks that need irregular force applied to engage, increase the chance that someone (perhaps even you) will not secure the door properly. Anytime things start to get buggy, you start to become complacent with less than ideal apartment security. This apathy can easily leave you vulnerable, and generally, increase the risk your apartment unit and even complex are at. Be sure to perform maintenance regularly so that you do not slip into the easy default position of procrastination.

Key Takeaways:

  • All security naturally deteriorates, so you must take steps to maintain them.
  • When the devices you have for apartment security stop working perfectly, it increases the chance that they will be exploited or misused.
  • Unless maintenance is planned to be completed regularly, it increases the chance that the problem will not be solved in a timely fashion.

12. Safely See Who Is At Your Door

Door Peep Hole

Knowing when to keep your door closed is extremely important for apartment security. Because of the nature of an apartment, it is easy to walk unwittingly into hairy situations. Confrontations and all manner of dangerous alterations can be happening right outside your door, and opening your door is an easy way to open yourself up to danger. And if your apartment complex security has failed, and someone has gained unauthorized access to the units, even a seemingly harmless knock on the door could be a threat.

All of this makes it invaluable to be able to safely see who is at your door. Peepholes are the most popular solution to this issue, but criminals can cover them and generally anticipate their use. There are some great smart doorbells that can offer a wider angle of observation and even allow you to see who is at your door even when you are not inside the unit. The Ring video doorbell and the Skybell are common examples of these smart doorbells. Do not open your door without knowing what is waiting for you on the other side.

Key Takeaways:

  • Unauthorized visitors and dangerous conflicts, can be hard to gauge without a way to monitor who is outside your door.
  • A peephole or high-tech doorbell can allow you to get a sense of what is going on outside your apartment without opening yourself up to danger.

How To Get The Security You Need

Many people do not know how to ask for the things they need. And in the case of trying to get building managers, supervisors, landlords, etc., to solve an issue, it can be even more difficult. These individuals have a lot of things on their plate, which should not be an excuse for wrongful treatment, but it is something you need to understand. Often the people you will be able to communicate to about your apartment security will not act simply because they are overwhelmed. This is different from malicious neglect. If a person is simply busy, there is still a way to get them to take apartment complex security seriously.

The first thing to remember is that you are not talking to them about problems, you are bringing them solutions. Tell them how things can be done, and the way they can be done with as little effort as possible. If you are handy, a great way to encourage property managers to act on necessary upgrades and repairs is to offer to do the work if they will simply pay for the materials. This will not always work, but it helps to strengthen your case. In the most extreme cases, where you need this done, you can simply ask for permission to have the work done and take on the financial investment yourself.

Whatever the request, there is sure to be some type of negotiation. If there is no negotiation, you have a much larger issue than just apartment security. Chances are there will be some issue that the person with decision power has with your proposed solution. That is why you need to have your arguments straight and well thought out. If you think you can compromise, have that strategy prepared by knowing what you cannot give up. Be ready to defend your position vehemently. If you cannot live without the change, then you need to make your case for why it benefits them to take on more work and expend other resources.


Don’t be one of the people who do not take their home security seriously. It might not be a property you own, but your security is still important. Take the steps that will keep yourself, and the contents of your apartment, safe from harm and theft. Apartment security does not end with this list. There are limitless ways to keep your apartment safe. Don’t limit yourself, and be sure to combine the various methods on this list. By taking your apartment security seriously, you will make yourself and your complex more protected.

Category: How To's, Residential, Safety & Security

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