Security options for a rented house? Strict landlords!

This is a discussion on Security options for a rented house? Strict landlords! within the Home (And Away From Home) Defense Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; So here's a run down of my situation. My wife and I currently live in a rented townhouse, and they have (what I consider) a ...

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Thread: Security options for a rented house? Strict landlords!

  1. #1
    Member Array Neocount's Avatar
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    Security options for a rented house? Strict landlords!

    So here's a run down of my situation. My wife and I currently live in a rented townhouse, and they have (what I consider) a strict code as far as what we can install and what we can't. We both very much want a full on home security system installed, but they will not allow it. They say that the installation will put holes in the walls, and that if something were to happen when we weren't home, they couldn't get in. They don't want me to install a katy bar on the doors, because they are worried it will damage the door. They really don't want us to do anything that would damage any walls or doors, so I'm at a loss. We have firearms to help protect ourselves should things go that far, but we really don't know what to do to stop it from getting to that point.

    As far as externals of the place go, we really only have a front porch light and a back porch light. Doors and dead bolts are locked every day, no exceptions, but the back door has typical glass panels on it. On the front of our house, we have one window about 6' off the ground, the front door, and a small 12" window that opens into the basement. The basement window is covered, but its nothing fancy, and would be very simple to shatter if someone tried. The back of the house has the back door, and a double wide window leading into the dining room. The back also has a very small window into the basement, just like the front. We have second story windows, but they aren't a concern. Without a large ladder, they are inaccessible.

    My wife had bought some of those small mountable alarms that go off whenever they are separated (Just eBay "door alarms" and you will get an idea of what they were), and we thought they were great. Mounted well the first day, were loud and annoying when they went off, and cheap. They only lasted a few days before they started going off on their own, or falling apart. Has anyone had any great experience with these? I'm hoping there is a high quality version out there somewhere, for people unable to install actual systems in their homes.

    My main question is really regarding the portable alarms, as that's the only option I see as being able to do. I know that there is film you can put on windows to make them shatterproof, but it seems like a very large investment to put into a rented home, if they'll even allow it. Anyone have any thoughts as to what we can do? I'm more than willing to spend some money for peace of mind about security, I just don't know where to turn. Anything that can be installed with a minimal footprint would be best.

    Thank you so much in advance! I love the area but can't help but feel vulnerable, I just wanna make this place as safe as possible.
    Last edited by Neocount; November 10th, 2010 at 02:51 AM. Reason: Spelling issues...

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  3. #2
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    Array msgt/ret's Avatar
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    A wireless system such as this might do for a start.

    http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...ductId=3509936
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    VIP Member Array SIGguy229's Avatar
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    I would talk to the landlord again regarding the home alarm system....and use it as a selling feature for future renters. Holes in the walls??? No more than hanging a mirror, IMO.

    Also, what could they possibly need to get into the house without your knowledge? There are systems that allow for multiple codes, that is, one for you and one for the landlords, so the alarm company will know who turned off/turned on the alarm. If access is what they are really worried about, then an alarm system with different codes should work.
    Last edited by SIGguy229; November 10th, 2010 at 04:22 AM.
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    Ex Member Array EB31's Avatar
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    There are many options for slide plates, wedges, bars etc that are floor mounted that can help prevent doors from being kicked in. It avoids drilling into walls.....just into the floor. Might be something you can get away with. Just a thought.

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    Your landlord/owner makes the rules, and you should check in the lease that you signed...what does it say? Both you and the landlord have to abide by the 'print'.
    You are experiencing one of the downfalls of renting.
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    Standard leases generally allow for the landlord/association to adopt new "rules" and enforce compliance. The landlord can tell you to remove something, or pay for damages, etc, and evict you for non-compliance.

    That's not to say they will. However, if you're landlord refuses to give permission to install a wireless system, your choices are to move or risk eviction. The same for any modification you make. You can put the ball back in your landlord's court, and tell them you'll move if they don't allow you to make modifications.

    Sure, it's a pain, but what is your security and peace of mind worth?

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    Talk to the landlord about what actual modifications would occur. Then discuss what costs would be incurred to return the place to origional condition when you leave. They may be willing to let you do it if you can come to a written agreement ahead of time about what can stay, what has to go, and what you have to pay for at the time you turn the place back over. You may need some written agreement about access, e.g. they get pins/passwords for entry (assuming you lease already has something in it allowing them entry when you are not home). They might be more comfortable once they realise they won't be out any money when you leave. I'd also focus the discussion on how you are protecting their investment in the property. Suppose you and the wife travel for a week and someone breaks in and vandalizes the place, etc. An alarms sytem would let someone know immediately, instead of a week later, and might prevent it in the first place.
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    I have el-cheapo window alarms on all my 15 windows. They cost 2.50 each at Harbour Freight, batteries included and stick to the glass very well. They sense vibration make lots of noise, and will provide at least a second or two extra if someone does something to break in while you are asleep. They aren't much, nothing fancy, but they do make a loud noise.

    Similarly, Harbour Freight sells very inexpensive driveway alarms (11 bucks on sale) which are basically motion detectors. I don't know the layout of your home, but if you just set the detector (tiny and takes one 9 volt) on a table and the receiver unit on your night stand, you'll get a second or two heads up on an intruder who somehow got past the doors and windows.

    As others have said, there are good and inexpensive wedge alarms and bar alarms which you can place on your door while sleeping.

    If you want more protection than that you need a monitored system and those tend to be costly.

    As for door alarms, other than the wedges and bars, if they rely on glue they'll fail. Since your landlord won't allow
    holes in the wall or frame, and who can blame him really, you are probably out of luck as far as the magnet door alarms.

    Now, lots depends on your budget. There are moderately sophisticated alarm system which are wireless, and which allow the sensors to be buried in the door frame itself. They end up completely out of sight because they are sitting between the top of your door itself and sunk into the frame above. If you want to chance it, you're landlord probably would never know, and not even see it on the final move out inspection because they are too busy looking elsewhere.

    You can also suggest to your landlord --gently-- that by preventing you from putting in alarms he is accepting some responsibility and LIABILITY for your well being and safety. Be clear that you want to be a good tenant and that you want to be careful about his property, but that you think he needs to help you be careful about your own safety. He can't evict you for saying that, and it might get him thinking. There have been plenty of hotels and landlords sued over intrusions which they facilitated through negligence.

    Oh, this place has all sorts of gadgets and gizmos and alarms in all price ranges. Browse around and you might find stuff you can use that won't break the bank or annoy your landlord. http://www.homesecuritystore.com/

    (I have no business relationship with them. Never even bought stuff from them. I have just extensively browsed their rather interesting site.)

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    Member Array Neocount's Avatar
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    @msqt/ret - I will stop by a Shack and take a look at those. I'm always wary of any that look like that though, they all seem to be made so cheaply. Any personal experience with em? Thanks if it works out though!

    @SIGguy229 - Here's how they explained it to me. If you aren't home, and a pipe bursts that is connecting to your neighbors house, they will have to get in. Maybe they just aren't aware that you can do multiple code systems? The landlord and the maintenance guy would have to have their own codes, and I worry about the opsec of that, but at least if something happened I'd know who's code it was that got in. I will research it more, and see if I can come up with a convincing proposal. Traditional systems like ADT or Brinks have wireless systems don't they? Less "damage" to the walls!

    I think there's a Harbour Freight down the road from me, if I'm remembering correctly. I'll make that a stop on my travels today, thanks. Will let you know how it goes.

    It's a pretty long and involved story, but long/short is my wife signed a lease here before I even knew about the place, so moving isn't really an option. I never got a chance to review anything in advance, only after I was already stuck adhering to the rules. She's in love with this area, and this house, but at night when I'm up I can't help but always worry. Thanks everyone for the encouragement, I'll see if I can maybe change their minds.

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    VIP Member Array tkruf's Avatar
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    If you are renting there, it is your domain. The landlord shouldn't be going in there when you are not home (period). As someone else mentioned, an installed security system is a good selling point for the next person who rents it. The landlord should have had security systems already installed to begin with anyway. What did you pay a security deposit for? Damages such as holes?

    Sounds like landlord is a jerk.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neocount View Post
    @SIGguy229 - Here's how they explained it to me. If you aren't home, and a pipe bursts that is connecting to your neighbors house, they will have to get in. Maybe they just aren't aware that you can do multiple code systems? The landlord and the maintenance guy would have to have their own codes, and I worry about the opsec of that, but at least if something happened I'd know who's code it was that got in. I will research it more, and see if I can come up with a convincing proposal. Traditional systems like ADT or Brinks have wireless systems don't they? Less "damage" to the walls!
    I don't buy that as a valid excuse. Are the shut offs to each unit not in a common area? There should be two shut offs, one in your unit and one in a utility closet either separate from the units or in a public/shared space. I know thats how it is in several of the townhouse/condos places I've looked at and live in.

    The last people who owned my condo had their water heater burst when they were on vacation. Maintenance shut off all water to their unit from the maintenance closet and they dealt with the damage upon their return. Granted they weren't renters but the water can be shut off outside of the unit. Same goes for electric.

    In any place I have rented the landlord couldn't enter the residence without my express permission, I think that's a standard clause in the lease?

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    Ex Member Array azchevy's Avatar
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    Go wireless. This is what i use on my home and it is great.

    http://www.homesecuritystore.com/p-7...alarm-kit.aspx

    Easy to install and configure. Will call different phone numbers you preset, and will leave the smallest footprint on the home. just some screw holes or double sided tape for the sensors.

    This way if they do come in you can set it to silent alarm and contact you or set a maintenance code with notification to your cell that someone entered it.

    very good system.

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    I have wireless and cellular from ADT. The only holes required were to mount the control panel. It just plugs into a wall outlet for power with battery backup
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    Quote Originally Posted by azchevy View Post
    Go wireless. This is what i use on my home and it is great.

    http://www.homesecuritystore.com/p-7...alarm-kit.aspx

    Easy to install and configure. Will call different phone numbers you preset, and will leave the smallest footprint on the home. just some screw holes or double sided tape for the sensors.

    This way if they do come in you can set it to silent alarm and contact you or set a maintenance code with notification to your cell that someone entered it.

    very good system.
    Don't those door alarms require the transmitter and the magnet to be screwed down into the frame and door. I bet the landlord won't like that at all.

    Also, if all you want is a noise maker, they sell el -cheapo wireless systems at Walmart from GE. I think they run around 30 bucks and come with a couple door sensors and one motion detector.

    To the OP, the reason I've been looking at wireless door detectors which get buried in the door frame instead of getting screwed down onto the frame is that I have steel doors and they would be hard to patch if the sensor was removed. If I bury the detector in the door frame it will never be visible.

    You need to decide what you really need and want. If all you really are concerned with is getting something that makes enough noise to wake you up, that's inexpensive. If you want something that makes lots of noise and wakes the neighbors, that's more. And if you want to get a phone call if there is an intrusion during the day, that costs yet more money.

    Oh, and on Harbour Freight's Driveway alarms which will double as an inexpensive alert to wake you, the regular price is about 30 bucks. NEVER EVER buy anything at the regular price there. They always have coupons and deals on stuff. Just be patient. E.g., I put a moisture detector in a closet with a hot water heater. The regular price was 12 bucks. On sale, I got it for 7. If I can find the unit at that price again I'll buy one for the laundry room and one for under the kitchen sink where there is some plastic tubing running to an RO unit.

    There have been huge improvements in all sorts of detectors and the pricing has dropped dramatically lately. This is a good time to get everything from CO and Smoke detectors to water leak detectors and intrusion alarms.

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    Ex Member Array azchevy's Avatar
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    No, you can use double sided tape if you need to.

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