Chicago–Renters seek a safe haven when searching for an apartment. According to a national Apartments.com survey—conducted during national crime prevention month—96 percent of respondents said neighborhood crime rate influences where they choose to live. More than 750 renter survey respondents stated violent crimes including assault and battery followed by theft and burglary concern them most. To protect themselves, renters are acting responsibly including keeping strangers out of the apartment community and are even willing to pay more in rent to live where they feel secure.
Survey results also reveal renters do not feel as safe as they have in previous years. While more than 66 percent of renters said they feel extremely to moderately safe living in their current neighborhood, a 2006 Apartments.com survey on apartment safety and security shows this figure has dropped by 12 percent and the number of renters who said they do not feel safe has increased by 8 percent.
Renters are looking out for themselves by keeping a pulse on the neighborhood. A quarter of respondents who have been living in the same neighborhood for more than a year said there has been an increase in crime-related activity compared to the previous year. To safeguard themselves in their apartments, renters are taking preventative measures including never buzzing in strangers or allowing anyone they do not recognize inside the apartment community when coming and going. Renters are also installing deadbolts, owning dogs and using timers for lighting, radios and the television when they are not at home.
In addition to taking safety matters into their own hands, renters are looking—and willing—to pay more in rent for specific safety features. The top five safety features renters said they would pay more to have, when asked to choose all that apply, are:
- In-unit security alarm system: 49%
- 24/7 building security patrol guards and a doorman: 45%
- Security cameras on the apartment community property: 42%
- Mandatory background screening for all residents: 30%
- Cylinder deadbolt locks on windows and doors: 29%
To answer the apartment safety needs of their residents, many professionally managed apartment communities and private landlords are doing their part to keep renters’ minds at easy by providing peepholes on apartment doors, securing windows and doors with locks and running background checks on potential residents.
For those who do not have an alarm system in their apartment or security guards patrolling the grounds, there are cost-effective ways renters can secure their apartment. Many break-ins can be prevented with mini-entry alarms, wireless door chimes, sensors and motion detectors. Decals that read “Beware of Dog” or announce the apartment has an alarm system or a neighborhood watch in effect can raise doubt among intruders, turning them away from the apartment building.