The Renters Guide to Home Security
In 1996, it’s estimated that more than 90% of young adults aged 25-35 would have been able to purchase a home. Today, even with a significant deposit, that number is below 50%. More people are renting homes than ever before, and for young adults the prospects of home ownership continues to diminish while private landlords pick up larger and larger portions of the housing market: As of 2018, the total amount of rent paid to private landlords was double the amount of mortgage payments paid by homeowners.
As the number of renters has increased, crime statistics have shown the startlingly higher rates at which renters are victims of burglaries or home invasion. Figures gathered by the FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics, indicate that renters in the U.S. are victimized at over twice the rate of homeowners. In the UK, a 2015 study commissioned by the Police Foundation found that renters were a staggering 85% more likely to the victims of crime at home. Even more tellingly, the think tank found that crime was more closely linked to rented properties than any other indicators, including social deprivation, overcrowding, and unemployment. However, only a mere 12% of renters have any form of security system in their homes.
Before going any further, it’s important to qualify these statistics with the encouraging disclaimer that crime rates, on the whole continue to steadily decrease, and most increases in incidents of violent crime and burglary are more often than not down to a host of interrelated factors, including continued population growth, our increased awareness of crime through media consumption, as well as improvements in the process for reporting crimes. The intention of this article is neither to fear-monger or frighten young renters into buying a security system, but rather to draw attention to the ways in which renters are more vulnerable, and provide a straightforward, affordable blueprint to making wherever you live safe, secure, and home.
Know Your Rights
The bad news about your rights as a tenant is that, depending upon where you live, you probably don’t have many. That being said, landlords are legally obliged to provide tenants with a secure, non-hazardous living environment, and while this probably won’t result in your landlord footing the bill for a security system, there are some improvements and safety measures that are often neglected, but that technically fall under the landlord’s responsibilities, and may provide tenants with some degree of leverage. The archetype of the stingy landlord is a stereotype for good reason, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has rented for any length of time and not experienced the unwillingness of landlords and property managers to do anything for tenants beyond the minimum required. Beyond protecting the home itself, landlords are unlikely to be overly concerned with the renter’s personal security and belongings, so the onus of safety and security falls almost entirely on the individual.
There are a host of factors that contribute to the heightened vulnerability of rented accommodation to crime, but more often than not, opportunistic burglars are exploiting outdated or neglected security features in order to easily gain easy access to a property. This is an aspect of the home, that does fall under the landlords obligations but is almost always neglected unless tenants push the issue. When moving into a new flat or house, tenants can (and absolutely should) ask that the landlord change all door locks. Again, this falls within the landlord’s responsibilities as the property owner, and when neglected, will leave your home incredibly susceptible to crime, and your landlord incredibly susceptible to litigation. Many rented properties will have had countless previous occupiers, and it is impossible to know how many individuals may still have access to your front door without your knowledge. Landlords are supposed to change all locks at the beginning of a new tenancy, but predictably this rarely happens unless someone makes a fuss and forces their hand.
Similarly, windows are another massive source of vulnerability as they are so often overlooked. Particularly in older homes and flats, window locks are often outdated and vulnerable, so this is an especially important security measure to look into, particularly for any windows at ground level. As with door locks, this is one of the few security measures that landlords are unlikely to get away with neglecting if tenants are proactive and draw attention to any vulnerabilities.
Security in Your Hands
Unless you are among the fortunate minority of renters with a benevolently inclined landlord, you are probably not going to get much from your landlord beyond physical measures like locks. Homes without a security system are 300% more likely to be burgled, and it is estimated that only 12% of rented properties have any form of security system, and this is likely why non-owner occupied properties are much more likely to be targeted by opportunistic crime.
This is the problem our founders set out to solve, with a home alarm that was in reach for all the people who would never have thought about having one. Our alarm is simple in design, but powerful in protection, combining everything you need for a secure, healthy home environment into a single device. This is an alarm, designed by four young, non-homeowners who recognised that shifting the ownership of security from the home to the individual was a critical condition for changing the demographics of home security.
There is no drilling or wall defacing required, so your landlord will have to find another reason to keep your security deposit. The alarm simply sticks to the wall or ceiling, is fully up and running in minutes, and comes with you when you move. Minut places your home’s security in your hands, removing the barrier of costly monitoring fees, and providing everyone the opportunity for security. Small but mighty, Minut replaces the sensors, keypads, wires and other alarm paraphernalia with machine learning to provide simple, but powerful security and home health monitoring. This holistic aspect of the alarm can also help you identify potential health risks in your home, such as elevated humidity and mold risk. If your landlord hasn’t replaced door locks, it’s safe to assume that he or she isn’t overly concerned about the black mould in a property that hasn’t been renovated in three decades.
Know Your Neighbours
A final potential source of vulnerability for tenants, is the understandable tendency amongst renters to remain unfamiliar with their neighbours. Obviously, home owners are much more likely to be well acquainted with the people living around them, while renters may see themselves as more of a temporary visitor than a member of the community. This anonymity among neighbours is particularly insidious in apartment buildings, where the lack of familiarity makes it incredibly easy for opportunities to survey the area for potentially vulnerable properties, usually unnoticed by residents who assume the mysterious lurker is just another neighbour they haven’t met.
Acquainting yourself with the people who live around you is arguably the most effective home security measure at your disposal. Before home alarms and security systems, neighbours were one of the only security resources available, and our communities were unquestionably safer for it. No alarm can replace the security of a neighbour keeping an eye out for anything unusual, so rather than attempting to supplement this human component with a security system, we incorporated it within our system in the form of our smart neighbourhood watch feature. This will allow you to incorporate friends, family, and neighbours into your security network, where they will be notified if Minut detects anything out of the ordinary in your home and you are unable to respond. This simple act of introducing yourself to the people around you, can have a huge effect not only for the security of your own home but for the safety of your community as a whole.
Security for Every Home
Until the day that we are able to secure the comprehensive reforms needed to ensure that all tenants have access to adequate, safe, and affordable housing, it will remain up to renters to ensure their own safety at home. Until then, we will continue with our vision for reinventing home security, and providing an accessible path to safer and healthier homes for everyone and every kind of home.