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5 Simple ways to make your neighborhood safer
How to stay safe in your neighborhood
We don’t all have the luxury of being able to afford apartments in nice neighborhoods. Which is why we pulled together some really easy things you can do to make your neighborhood and your apartment safer so you can rest easier at night.
Cheap rent in bad neighborhoods might be a fact of life for some of us but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it better.
Before you even move there
First, it’s important to understand how crime affects the rent within a given area. The higher the crime rate, the lower the rent. When looking at a place where the rent is “too good to be true,” check the crime rate in that area.
Landlords lower the rent in high-crime areas as a way to lure renters to the property. That being said, be sure to set aside time to research the area and apartments to evaluate and decide your risk tolerance.
- Visit the neighborhood at different days of the week and different times (9pm vs 9 am for instance)
- Talk to some of your would-be neighbors and ask them how safe they feel living there (their thoughts/opinions etc)
- Look at lighting in around sidewalks and the apartment complex you are considering
- Do you see a lot of rundown or abandoned homes
- Isolated apartments and homes — ideally you want neighbors nearby as extra eyes deter criminals.
Online tools to check out neighborhood safety
Searching online is a good place to start to find out your neighborhood’s trouble issues, but make sure you actually go out and look in person.
- Check out online reviews (Google and Yelp) to see what other people have said about the landlord.
- Facebook groups — keep you connected to your community and what kind of crime is going on around you.
- Crime reports — this map-based site shows you up-to-date data on crimes that have recently occurred in your area.
- AreaVibes — provides a livability score for your ZIP code which ranks your area on factors such as housing, amenities, education, and crime. AreaVibes makes it easy to discover your neighborhood’s top safety issues by showing you crime trends and how those trends compare to national crime statistics.
- Family Watchdog — helps you narrow your focus by pinpointing registered sex offenders’ addresses in your neighborhood. Their easy-to-navigate map uses color-coded pins to identify specific sex crimes like sexual battery, rape, and crimes against children.
- Nextdoor — for this app, you sign up as a member, and it allows you to participate in real-time conversations between you and your neighbors — it’s the most personal alert system there is.
5 Simple ways to make your neighborhood safer
If you’ve found a great new place with cheap rent in a bad neighborhood, here are a number of solutions to improving your apartment’s safety. Read our article 5 ways to make your apartment more secure for details and product recommendations.
- Meet your neighbors. Being on friendly terms with your neighbors is one of the best ways to build a safer neighborhood. They’ll be looking out for you and you for them.
- Encourage your neighbors to use an app such as Nextdoor these are great resources where people in your area post about crime, lost animals, you name it.
- Insist on good lighting from your landlord – if bulbs are out or there is no good lighting petition your landlord to make these improvements.
- Encourage your landlord to cut back unwieldy hedges or bushes that make easy hiding places.
- Install a doorbell camera for your added protection. Doorbells will monitor anyone who comes up to your apartment door or and will help deter people with ill intentions.
Consider getting renters insurance
Renters insurance policies cover your stuff if it is stolen from your apartment or your car. The average policy is about $10-$15 a month and can also protect you in the event of damage to your things in the event of a fire or other disaster.
What is your landlord responsible for?
Landlords are required by law to provide a clean, livable, and safe apartment/home. It’s called a “warranty of habitability” and is an inherent right afforded to tenants regardless of the lease.
Every rental varies in what safety codes are required. States and cities may also have different regulations. Find out what your state and city require here.
Along with lead paint warnings and fire alarms, landlords must protect you from reasonably predictable criminal harm. You may be asking yourself what does ‘reasonably predictable criminal harm’ cover or mean?
In short, it covers things that are your first line of defense against like fixing broken locks on doors and windows. Keeping common areas safe includes replacing dead light bulbs in the laundry, hallways, and garages.
Keeping you and your apartment safe
Living in a higher crime area is manageable, and sometimes the only affordable route to go. Use the right precautions — know what you’re getting into and be aware of your surroundings by checking out the neighborhood and using online tools to get the details. You have rights to a clean, safe livable home along with basic protection from preventable crime. Your landlord has a responsibility to maintain this. In addition, you can add other solutions to your apartment to further enhance safety and living comfort.
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