When you’re looking for a place to call home, one of the most important factors to consider is safety. Apartment living can offer a number of safety features, but there are some things that are easy to overlook when touring potential new places to call home. Here is a new apartment checklist to help you settle in and be safe and sound.
1. Get Renter’s Insurance
It’s no coincidence this is listed first in our apartment living safety checklist, because it’s the most important! The cost depends on the state you live in, your deductible, the amount of coverage and type of coverage you choose, but for about the cost of a meal at a restaurant (or a coffee at Starbucks), you’ll be paying a lot less then if all of your belongings were stolen or destroyed. It’s also a good idea to keep a list of your most valuable items, like your computer, TV or expensive jewelry. Make sure to keep receipts of your most valuable items by writing down a description of the item(s), the serial number(s), and take a photo of the item(s) as well. Keep a copy online or in a safe deposit box at a bank.
2. Make Sure Door Locks Were Changed
Each time a new tenant moves in, the door locks should be changed on any doors leading into the apartment. Even though it’s usually against management’s policy to copy keys, the previous tenant might have done so, and then who knows who could access your stuff. Side note: the front door should also have a peep-hole viewer. You can ask your manager to install one if you don’t have one. We know it’s common sense, but we’re going to say it anyway - lock your doors and windows when you are at home and when you’re away. Unlocked doors and windows are the easiest way for criminals to get inside your apartment.
3. Talk to Other Residents
It’s a good idea to start getting to know the people that live around you. The great thing about living in an apartment is that the complex is like a small community. Whenever you see a neighbor, smile and say hello. If you get to know them, even just on a neighborly level, you’ll be more inclined to look out for each other. You’ll also start to recognize patterns - like when they come and go, how often they have visitors, if they receive a lot of packages – and they’ll start to recognize yours. So when something seems out of the ordinary, they can let you know. Even if you are still deciding on where to live, ask other residents about their experience living in the apartment complex.
4. Check That Smoke Alarms Are Working Properly
It’s up to the landlord to do routine maintenance checks on smoke alarms as well as provide fire extinguishers. Make sure you ask when the last time the batteries were changed in the smoke detector, and find out the location of the nearest fire extinguisher. If you smell or see smoke at anytime, get out of the apartment and call 9-1-1. Have an emergency evacuation plan ready too, just in case you leave that candle burning or forget the cookies in the oven.
5. Report Bad Lighting
If you’re getting home late at night you want to be safe walking from the parking lot or bus stop to your apartment. Make sure the parking lot and corridors of the apartment complex are well lit. If you see any lights out, report them to the landlord. It’s also not a bad idea to have a lighting timer inside your apartment to come on when you’re away in the evening, or to come on and light the apartment as soon as you walk in the door. Be aware of your surroundings. It’s easy to not notice that something is amiss when you’re talking on your cell phone, juggling grocery bags, or listening to your iPod. You don’t want to appear as a weak target if criminals are lurking in the shadows.
If you follow these 5 basic apartment living safety tips, we have no doubt that each item on your new apartment checklist will have a big fat check mark next to it and you’ll feel safer than ever.