Violent crimes can occur at any location. Do not think that if you live in a so-called safe neighborhood it means you are immune to crime. Many neighborhoods that are low crime areas are that way because of adequate security features. Before renting an apartment or visiting a friend at their apartment in any neighborhood, you should take a moment to notice these following features listed.
- Lighting – How well-lit is the environment?You might have to visit the apartment at night to inspect lighting but many apartment complexes have roofed garages and closed corridors that are lit all day. Notice if the front entrance way is properly lit. This is the area you will be using your code or key to enter, as well as, having guests and delivery services wait for you while you come to get them or buzz them up. Next, examine the lighting in the hallways as you traverse from the entrance to the door of your unit. This includes stairways and elevators as well. Then check the lighting in front of your unit. If you have a parking lot, then inspect that area. Make sure that it is well-lit with no dark areas where someone can lurk unseen while you get into your car. Finally, check the emergency exits. Due to fire codes, every building must have an alternate exit. Many of those exitsoften direct you out into an alleyway. Proper maintenance and lighting in these areas are often minimal. These alleyways are often where a violent offender can be waiting or hiding out. Proper lighting means that you can be seen and you can see your surrounding area.
- Windows – Check all the windows and sliding glass doors in the unit. See if you can lift and slide them open or remove the glass in any way that does not include breaking it. If the apartment is in a high crime neighborhood, then make sure it has bars on the windows, especially if you are on the first floor.
- Security Cameras – Many apartments have a closed loop security camera at the front and rear entrances, as well as, the parking areas. In some less expensive apartment complexes, the feed is not monitored and erases after 24 hours. Try to stay within the sight of the cameras for safety reasons.
- Staff – See if the apartment has security guards and what their qualifications are. Sometimes, security guards only come on duty at night. Find out how easy they allow guests to enter. Also, examine the maintenance staff. If you feel like a maintenance staff member may have a dangerous past, you should make sure that the proper background checks were performed prior to hiring that person. People do deserve a second chance in life, but entrusting these people to have keys to your residence is not always a wise choice.
- Communication – When you bring these concerns up to the manager, notice how they respond. A safe building will provide you with the information easily. This also applies to requests for repairs and the overall cleanup of the building. If you notice there are issues lacking in security or maintenance then it could be a larger issue of poor organization in the operation of the building and could lead to security problems.
While many people rent what they can afford based on location and price, the issue of safety should be the foremost concern. You can perform these checks before renting and let the manager know these are important features for you.