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Find cheap rent in a bad neighborhood
How to stay safe in a cheap rental in a bad neighborhood
Apartments you can afford to rent are not always the safest — you already know this. But, you can save money by finding cheap rent in a bad neighborhood by living in a higher-crime area if you take the right precautions.
It can feel overwhelming, but there are tips and safeguards to protect yourself. Fortunately, we’ve been around the block (hah!) a few times and have pulled together a few nuggets to help you manage your safety.
Cheap rent in a bad neighborhood: The higher the crime, the lower the rent
It is 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 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.
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.
Once you have a feel for the stats and decide if you are comfortable with the rent you can afford and risk, make sure to visit the location at different times during the day to see the neighborhood for yourself. Here are some things to be on the lookout for:
- Places that are dimly lit or look abandoned are easy targets for criminals.
- Homes run-down and not in good shape.
- Isolated apartments and homes — ideally you want neighbors nearby as extra eyes deter criminals.
- Abandoned homes — often a prime target for juveniles inexperienced in crime who reason, “the house is already in bad shape, what does it matter?”
How to make your apartment 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.
- The cheapest solution is to keep doors locked and make break-ins harder with a low-cost deadbolt and door jammer.
- Keep your valuables out of sight — even consider buying a safe.
- Know your neighbors — that includes which ones to avoid and which ones are potential friends. Keeping up with a neighborhood watch group, Facebook group, or Nextdoor is another great way to know the people who live nearby.
- Make sure you have good lighting. If the criminal can be seen, a passerby could identify them later on. It’s a quick and simple deterrent. Your landlord is responsible for maintaining lights at all times in common areas (see below).
- You can always install home security cameras and a video doorbell too.
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, and in addition, you can add other solutions to your apartment to further enhance safety and living comfort.
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