A Renter’s Guide to Protecting Your Home
Attention all renters!
There’s no doubt that moving into a new space can be overwhelming.
Between searching through rental listings and packing up your belongings, it’s easy to forget about things like inspecting the property for potential hazards or changing the batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Whether you’re planning to move next week or next year, we’ve rounded up 9 great safety tips for renters. Let’s get started!
Safety Tips for Renters #1: Inspect Your Home Carefully
First thing first: before moving into your new rental home, it’s important to carefully inspect the space for any potential hazards.
This includes appliances, windows and doors, ceilings, walls, and floors (keep an eye out for water stains!), safety equipment like smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and other odds and ends.
If you’re renting in a hot market with lots of competition, it can be tempting to skip this step – but it’s so important! The last thing you want is to be all moved in and then find something unsafe like a faulty electrical outlet or broken thermostat.
If you’re renting a basement apartment, make sure it complies with local zoning, fire, building and electric codes.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary, like a missing safety feature, bring it up with the landlord immediately.
Here are a few things to look out for:
- Locks (and peephole if applicable)
- Appliances (refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, etc.)
- Toilets and showers
- Mold and water damage
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Safety Tips for Renters #2: Get New Locks for Your Door
Before you move in, it’s also a good idea to change the locks in your rental.
It’s pretty common for previous tenants to make copies of keys and either hold on to them or give copies to family or friends.
Rather than worrying about whether or not someone has a copy of your keys, it’s better to get them changed and eliminate any risks.
But don’t change the lock on your own – this could violate your lease agreement as most include a clause stating that the landlord can enter the property with cause (i.e. in an emergency).
Instead, discuss your options with your landlord. According to Home Advisor, the average cost of new door locks is $40 to $100 plus labor charges – this is a really small cost for your peace of mind!
Safety Tips for Renters #3: Change Smoke & CO Alarm Batteries
As we mentioned above, if you’re moving into a new apartment or home, it’s very important to check on the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
But even if they appear to be working properly (learn how to test your smoke detectors here!), it’s still a good idea to replace the batteries, especially since the U.S. Fire Administration recommends changing the batteries twice a year.
If you’ve never changed the smoke and carbon monoxide batteries before, it’s very simple! All you need to get up on a ladder (if you don’t feel comfortable with this, ask a family/friend) and remove the cover.
Next, replace the batteries in the appropriate positions and test the alarm to make sure that it’s working properly.
To ensure optimal safety, we recommend installing Notion sensors next to your alarms. That way, you’ll receive an alert on your smartphone when the alarm sounds so you can take action!
Safety Tips for Renters #4: Familiarize Yourself With Fire Exits
While there are many things you can do to prevent fires, accidents do happen and it’s important to be prepared in the event of an emergency.
So as part of your moving in process, it’s a great idea to scope out the best exits and escape routes from your home.
This includes doors, hallways, and windows. In some older homes, windows can be painted closed, so make sure to double-check that they are working properly.
If you live with roommates or family members, we recommend creating an emergency plan to improve your preparedness in the event of an emergency.
This involves coming up with a communication plan, mapping evacuation routes and meeting places, and even making an emergency supply kit.
Safety Tips for Renters #5: Insure Your Apartment or Home
Before you move into a new apartment or home, many landlords will require you to get renters insurance – otherwise known as tenant insurance.
Even if your landlord doesn’t ask you to get insurance, it’s still a good thing to have.
Tenant insurance will protect your belongings against theft and natural disasters, but it can also protect you against potential lawsuits where you are deemed responsible for the damage of the property.
The good news is that it’s relatively inexpensive (around $15-30/month) and is definitely worth it, even if you don’t think you own much stuff.
You’ll live worry-free and know that your belongings are in good hands!
Safety Tips for Renters #6: Buy and Utilize a Safe
If you own any irreplaceable or valuable items, it could be very helpful to invest in a fireproof safe!
Safes come in a ton of different sizes, styles, and prices. They can cost as little as $100 or they can be thousands of dollars – it really depends on which type of safe fits your lifestyle and budget.
If you end up going with a safe that needs to be mounted to the wall, make sure to check-in with your landlord to get their approval.
Keep in mind that owning and using a safe won’t discourage people from breaking and entering, but it could minimize the chances of them getting access to your valuables.
Safety Tips for Renters #7: Install Notion Sensors Around the Home
In order to keep tabs on and minimize any damage to your home (and belongings!), it’s a really good idea to install Notion Sensors around your rental home.
The Notion Starter Kit is a great place to start. For $149 you get 3 sensors, 1 bridge, and 1 magnet accessory. This way you can place one near the smoke detector, one on your front door, and you have two more to place anywhere you’d like.
Some popular choices are windows, near water sources (washing machines, dishwashers, sinks), cabinets, and even by your thermostat.
They’re also really easy to install (it takes less than 15 minutes!). All you have to do is peel-and-stick the sensors to the surface of your choice, connect your bridge, and get set up with the Notion smartphone app.
The best part is that if you decide to move, you can easily take them with you and reinstall them in your new home!
Safety Tips for Renters #8: Familiarize Yourself With the Neighborhood
Before you move into a new rental, it’s important to spend some time reviewing the neighborhood for its safety.
This means everything from researching crime stats to speaking with your landlord and local police. It’s important to ask any questions or concerns you may have!
This can give you peace of mind and help you understand what risks in your neighborhood you should be most aware of and how to avoid them.
Then, once you’re moved in, you can familiarize yourself with the more exciting parts of the neighborhood, like your new favorite coffee shop, local deli, and library.
Safety Tips for Renters #9: Introduce Yourself to Your Neighbors
Last but not least, introduce yourself to your neighbors!
Not only is this a friendly thing to do, but it can be very helpful to know your neighbors if you run into an emergency or have any questions.
All it requires is a simple introduction to let them know that you live next door.
If you have any pets, it’s important to introduce them as well! Just in case they run out the front door or end up wandering the neighborhood.
This can also be helpful if you’re going away on vacation and need someone to keep an eye on your home or water your plants. There’s nothing better than having an extra helping hand!
Thanks for reading! We hope that you learned a few new ways to keep your home safe!