Due to the rising costs of on-campus housing, many college students choose to live off campus.

Yet, apartments can be easy targets for intruders. Without proper security, burglars can access the property, your apartment and personal belongings. Safety starts with asking the right questions. Before signing a lease, students should ask prospective landlords about several key factors related to the building’s security.

Here are five essential questions to ask your landlord before securing off-campus housing for the school year.

1. How safe is the neighborhood?

Before signing a lease, it is important to consider the location of the property. Avoid selecting an apartment that is isolated or in an unsafe neighborhood. When considering potential homes, look into the following factors:

  • Distance from campus.
  • Neighborhood crime rate.
  • Past break-ins.

Discuss with the landlord, conduct online research, and walk around to determine the safety of the surrounding area.

2. How secure is the building?

Apartments with enhanced security systems are less likely to be broken into. Ask the landlord what security features are already in place to deter intruders and protect tenants.

When assessing the security of the building, consider asking these questions:

  • Are the entry points to the apartment only accessible to tenants?
  • Are there carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in place?
  • Are there locks on all doors?
  • Do the windows lock?
  • How often are there security maintenance checks?
  • Is the building secured with video surveillance?
  • Is there adequate lighting around the building?

3. Is there nearby parking?

Select an apartment with parking in close proximity. Parking lots should be secured, especially at night. If parking is included, ask the landlord if the lot is secured with any of these features:

  • Lights. Are the lot and the pathways leading to the parking lot well illuminated?
  • Security. Are there security guards monitoring the property?
  • Tenants-only access gate or garage. Can anyone park in the lot or is it for tenants only?

4. What happens in the case of an emergency?

In the case of an emergency, verify how responsive the landlord or building maintenance will be to an issue. For optimal safety, ask questions such as:

  • Is there a 24/7 maintenance service?
  • How close is the nearest police or fire station?

Request contact information for both basic maintenance requests and emergencies to ensure you are covered if any issues arise.

5. How else can I secure my apartment?

The landlord may have advice on additional ways you can secure your apartment. Consider adding these features to better safeguard your space:

  • Home alarm monitoring. 24/7 operators can dispatch first responders in case of emergency.
  • Image sensors. Visually identify the sources of detected movements.
  • Mobile alerts. Receive alerts to your mobile device or computer when detectors or sensors are triggered.
  • Remote lock solutions. Lock or unlock your door remotely using your smartphone, tablet or computer.

Since many security vendors require the property owner to enter into a contract, be sure to discuss with the landlord your desire to install a security system. After determining what is allowed, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision on which property is the safest choice for your needs.

Living on your own is a huge step in life. Ensure your safety and the security of your apartment by asking the right questions before signing a lease.

Are you considering off-campus housing for next year? What questions will you ask to ensure safety in and around your apartment? Share in the comment section below.

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