Checking An Apartment’s Safety: It Starts With The Door

Prior to renting an apartment, no matter how great the space is or ideal the location, it’s worthwhile to check its safety and security. Here are a few things to check, starting with the door.

Close up of locks on a door - latch, deadbolt, chain.

The Apartment Door

If the apartment door doesn’t meet basic safety codes, that’s a red flag. Not only is the door unsafe, but the landlord might be cutting corners elsewhere. NYC code dictates that every apartment door must have:

    1. A heavy duty latch set
    2. A heavy duty dead bolt that locks by hand from the inside, and by key from the outside
    3. A chain/hinging bar to securely crack open the door
    4. A viewing device (for example: a peep hole)

Building Lighting

Is the building well lit? Not just your apartment — but the hallways, elevators, stairways, parking area, and other areas of the building? Remember that the dark is a criminal’s friend, so be on the lookout for dark or poorly-lit areas as it may be a sign of trouble.

Maintenance and Repairs

Although this may not be directly related to security, it does provide insight into how the landlord and building management or owners regard your importance as a resident. If the building appears neglected it may indicate a lack of emphasis on security.

Entrance Security

How secure are the entrances to the apartment building? Does it require a key, pass code, buzz-in? Can visitors, upon entering, access more than one floor of the building? Are there cameras placed around the entrance or in the parking garage? Consider your personal safety; look around and ask questions.

Windows and Fire Escapes

Fire escapes are vital when a fire emergency occurs, but they also offer convenient access to your apartment. Check that the bottom ladder of the fire escape is up and locked, then check the security of any window that is accessible from the exterior of the building.

If everything checks out, great.  If not, consult your broker or speak with the landlord.