Can A Renter Get A Home Security System? 4 Options

by Tim Chesonis | Last Updated:  May 16, 2019

Home security systems seem to be every homeowner’s dream, but what about those who rent? Can a renter get a home security system?

84% of renters do not have a home security system, however, that number is decreasing because companies like SimpliSafe, Vivint, Frontpoint, and LifeShield have developed home security systems with the renter in mind.

This article is designed with the renter in mind.  We will show the difference between the needs of a home-owner, and a renter when it comes to home security systems.  I’ll show you 3 things that a renter should look for in a home security system, and 9 specific features that you will want as well.  Once you understand what to look for, we will cover 4 home security systems designed specifically for renters.  After reading this article, as a renter, you will be well-informed knowing exactly what to look for in a home security system.

Renters Vs. Home Owners: What’s the Difference?

In a Word, Flexibility
The biggest difference between a home security system for a renter and that of a home owner, is the flexibility that one has in determining which home security system they can use. Some home security systems are designed to be installed as a permanent solution, while other home security systems are designed so that you can take it with you when you move.

As a home owner, you can drill holes in walls and run cables within those walls all throughout the house. A renter does not have that flexibility.

A Home Security System Designed For Your Needs

As a home-owner, you can choose a home security system that meets the needs of your family. You can drill holes, mount cameras, and run as much cabling throughout the house as you want. Not so with the renter.

The renter does not have the authority to drill holes wherever they wish, or run cabling throughout the house as desired. A renter can only use the home security system, (if there is one), that already exists in the home, (unless he implements a wireless system which we will get to in a minute).

Just because one renter may choose one home security company that meets their needs, does not mean that home security company will meet the needs of the next tenant.

Because there will be other tenants that reside in that location in the future, one should not assume that they can make permanent modifications to the home. The renter must obtain permission from the Landlord to make any permanent modifications to the house, (more on that later).

When it comes to installing a home security system, clearly, home owners have much more flexibility than renters do, because they can do anything they want to their house.

3 Things a Renter Should Look for in a Home Security System

There is, however, an upside to this for the renter. If the renter installs a wireless home security system, he can easily take that wireless home security system with him when he moves out.

  1. No Contract
    As a renter, the last thing you want to get into is a contract.  Home Security companies would love for you to get into a long-term contract.

Do you really know if you will be living in your current apartment 3 years from now?

Some of these security monitoring services want you to enter into a 5 year contract!  That’s just ridiculous, especially for the renter.If you can avoid a contract, by all means, try to do so.  However, you have to weigh everything out before making a final decision.  If a contract is “required”, try to limit your commitment to 1 year, possible 2 years at the most.Fortunately, new companies are springing up that are targeting the rental property market.  This is long over-due, and the needs of renters are finally becoming a priority.  Security companies that have been around forever are being forced to change their business model and put the need of the individual before their bottom line.

  • Low Monthly Monitoring Fees
    Given the stiff competition, there really is no reason for high monthly monitoring fees, especially when the competition may offer the same security for half the price.  Of course, the rep will try to tell you why you *need* their security system, but if I may, please don’t fall prey to their sales tactics. 
  • First determine what your needs are and write them down.

    . Before speaking to ANYONE from any home security company, first determine what your needs are and write them down.  There is nothing worse than being pitched something you don’t need, and in some cases, don’t even want.  Anything offered above and beyond your needs, might be convenient, but not necessary.Just because a security company offers a low monthly monitoring fee, does not necessarily mean that it’s a cheap company.  Look at the reputation and read reviews and watch YouTube videos on the company that you are considering partnering with.

  • Do It Yourself (DIY)
    I briefly touched on this already, but understand that there are home security systems that are ridiculously simple to set up right out of the box.  Don’t be deceived, just because it’s a DIY home security system, does not mean that it’s not as good as the home security systems installed by professionals.If you simply follow the instructions provided by the DIY home security systems, you can’t go wrong.  Just make certain that you follow every step of the instructions without skipping any steps, (even if you think you already know how to do it).
  • Why should you look for a DIY home security system?

    9 Features Renters Should Look For in a Home Security System

    The Control Panel
    The Control Panel serves to arm and disarm your security system.  It is what the sensors report to.  The Control Panel will then report to the monitoring station what the sensor has reported to it.

    Wireless Home Security System
    Wireless home security systems require no drilling or running cables through your walls.  For this reason, wireless home security systems are a HUGE win for rental properties.

    Because wireless home security systems are not dependent on network cables that run throughout the house, you can easily pack up a wireless home security system and take with you when you move.

    As a renter, other than not entering into a contract, this is, in my opinion, the most attractive aspect of a home security system.  I definitely think that this is something that you should consider as a renter looking to secure your home.

    There are 3 GREAT reasons to purchase a wireless home security systems:

    Mobile Alerts
    Getting mobile alerts any time a sensor is triggered give one a feeling of being in complete control.  If you are at work, and the UPS delivery man drops off a package, you will be notified via a text alert on your smart phone.

    Remote Control
    This feature allows you to control your home security system from anywhere on the planet.  You can be home, at work, or on vacation.

    Glass Break Sensors
    If your apartment is on the ground floor, you will want to place glass break sensors on your windows.  If a glass window is broken, the sensor will sound an alarm, and the Control Panel will alert the monitoring station, which in turn, notifies the Police.

    Entryway Sensors
    These sensors are placed on doors that lead into your house, and of course, on windows.  When triggered, they chirp, and report to the Control Panel every time, even if you have disarmed the system.  Not to worry, the Control Panel won’t report to the monitoring station unless it is “armed”.

    Motion Detectors
    A motion detector is triggered whenever it senses movement.  These are great for hallways or large rooms.  When triggered, they will sound an alarm in an attempt to scare off the intruder, and at the same time, report its findings to the Control Panel.

    24/7 Professional Monitoring
    It may be tempting not to pay for professional monitoring in order to save paying a monthly monitoring fee, but a professional monitoring service will alert the authorities even when you cannot.  It offers a peace of mind that you would not otherwise have.

    Expandable Security System
    When looking for a home security system, do your best to find one that is expandable, one that will change with the needs of your family.  For example, if you have more children, you may want to add a motion sensor to their bedroom window.

    Home Security Systems for Renters

    If you live in a rental home, there is a higher probability of being burglarized than if you lived in a single-family home.

    Did you know that just 12% of renters have an alarm system?

    Even though home security systems have become increasingly popular over the last several years, 84% of renters still do not have a home security system. But that gap is closing.

    A home security system used to be very expensive and would require a professional to install the system. Obviously, this was a big turn-off. The industry saw this gap and as a result, they have created home security systems that are perfect for renters.

    The home security system designed for the renter will not require the renter to drill any holes, run cabling, or modifying the house or apartment in any way.

    The following home security systems were built with the renter in mind. To begin, let’s take a look at SimpliSafe.

    SimpliSafe

    SimpliSafe has been in business since 2012.  I called SimpliSafe and spoke with “Kyle” (at ext. 399), who spent the better part of 10 minutes explaining to me what they offered and answered every one of my questions.

    Everything they offer has the renter in mind.  In fact, all of their services work for both the renter and the home owner.

    SimpliSafe provides 2 options for a monitored plan.  You can get their basic plan ($14.99), which will dispatch the Police and medical services as necessary

    The other monitoring tier they offer is what they call their “Interactive” plan, which costs $24.99 per month.  With this monitoring plan, you can arm and disarm the system using an app on your smart phone or computer that will allow for push notifications and alerts via text or e-mail.  You can even set it up so that multiple people receive these alerts should a sensor be triggered while you are not at home.  Additionally, the “Interactive” plan allows for cameras to record when triggered, and those recordings stay in the cloud for 30 days and can be downloaded if needed, or used as evidence of an attempted break-in.

    What impressed me most was not the product or services Kyle was selling me on.  It was his nonchalant way of communicating the products and services.  I was also able to learn that they do not work on commission, so I did not feel pressured to purchase anything at all.

    The product and services sell themselves.  In fact, after he had answered all of my questions, he asked me if I knew if my county required a “Monitoring Permit”, and that if I didn’t know that I could ask City Hall, or call a  non-emergency police number to inquire.  It was as if he was going the extra mile just to ensure that I had everything in order BEFORE making a purchase.

    Needless to say, I was impressed.

    The Key Features of SimpliSafe are:

    PROSCONS
    • No Contract Required
    • No Activation Fee, First month Free
    • No Credit Checks
    • Free shipping (5-7 business days)
    • 100% Wireless System
    • You can set it up in less than 30 minutes
    • Home Automation integration with Nest, Alexa, Google Assistant, even the Apple Watch.
    • Add more components at will
    • 60 Day Money Back Guarantee, no questions asked
    • Some users have complained about customer service representatives.

     


    Vivint

    Shield has been in business since 1999.  All of their packages are custom built to your needs.  I called Vivint directly and spoke with “Levi”, who offered clarification on a few things you might not easily find on their website.  When all is said and done, the package that they build for you can range from $550 for 6 points of security, plus the panel, and each sensor is an additional $50.  They do offer payment plans for the equipment, or you can simply buy it outright.

    There are no contracts, which is great, however, the monthly monitoring fee is $39.99 plus $5 for each camera.  So if you had 2 cameras, your monthly fee would be $49.99 / month.

    The Key Features of Vivint are:

    As I have already mentioned, you can build your home security system from scratch, to meet your family’s needs and your budget.  With Vivint, you can choose from any of the following services:

    You can also choose from any of their following services.

    PROSCONS
    • No Contract Required
    • 100% Wireless System
    • Integrates with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest, and Philips Hue
    • Smart Home Automation
    • Equipment payment plan available
    • Professional Installation Required.
    • High up-front cost for equipment unless you opt for payment plan.

     


    Frontpoint

    Frontpoint has been in business since 2007.  All of their packages are custom-built to your needs.  I called Frontpoint directly and spoke with “Steve”, who clarified that they do require a 1 year contract OR a 3 year contract, however, at the end of either contract, you pay month-to-month for their monitoring services.

    Frontpoint offers three different types of monitoring services, however.  They are the “Protection” plan ($34.99 /month, the “Interactive” plan ($44.99 /month), and the “Ultimate” plan ($49.99 /month).  It should be noted that the “Mobile Access” is only available on the “Interactive” and “Ultimate” plans, and that “Video Monitoring” is only available on the “Ultimate” Plan.

    The key features of Frontpoint are:

    Frontpoint approaches the client differently than most home security companies.  They build and program everything for you at the factory and then ship it to you.  Everything is built a La Carte, meaning that they interview you over the phone to assess your needs and then custom build a solution that meats your budget and needs.

    You can custom build a system that includes any or all of the following, so I can’t tell you what the up-front cost would be, as that entirely depends on your budget and needs, but again, you get to choose from any of the following.  The monthly monitoring starts at $34.99 / month, however, and as already mentioned, can go up to $49.99 / month.

    PROSCONS
    • No Contract Required
    • 100% wireless equipment
    • You can set it up in less 30 minutes
    • Home Automation Control
    • Add more components at will
    • Excellent Customer Support
    • No activation fee
    • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
    • At least a 1 year contract is required.
    • The monthly monitoring is pricey
    • No Lifetime warranty on equipment

     


    LifeShield

    LifeShield has been in business since 2002 and is owned by ADT.  They offer several packages, and you can even build your own package.  I called LifeShield directly and spoke with “Josey”, who assured me that there are no credit checks or contract requirements for the “Shield Your Pad” package.

    The Key Features of LifeShield are:

    For renters, they offer the “Shield Your Pad” package which includes all of the following for only $199.15 plus the monitory service which starts at $19.99 / month.

    PROSCONS
    • No Contract Required
    • Wireless System
    • You can set it up in less than 30 minutes
    • Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Z-Wave, and IFTTT
    • Home Automation Control
    • Add more components at will
    • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
    • Instructions could be more thorough
    • Camera has to be plugged into a power source, which limits placement.

    Other Home Security Options for Renters

    As a renter, you will need to get permission from your Landlord to make any permanent changes to the apartment or house. But what if the Landlord says “No”, and won’t let you install a wired home security system? As a renter, there are other ways in which you can protect your family and home. Let’s take a look at a few of these options.

    Get a Dog
    Some rental properties allow for pets, and if your Landlord says it’s OK, or if your rental agreement allows for a dog, get one. Burglars hate dogs for two reasons.

    Burglars don’t like to deal with any type of dog, even little dogs.

    1. Dogs give them away.
    2. Dogs might possibly bite them.

    Little dogs may not bite, but they sure will give a thief away by barking, even if it just yaps.

    Replace Your Door
    If you do not have a composite door, you should replace the door with a composite door. The only way to get through a composite door is to ram the door with the type of ramming rod used by a SWAT team.

    You *may* need to get permission from your Landlord to do this, but they will more likely than not agree to let you do this, as you are upgrading the home, adding value to it.

    Mind you, if you do this, you can not take the door with you when you move, but you *may* be able to work something out with your Landlord. Maybe he will take 50% of the value of the door off next months rent. You have nothing to lose for asking. To get a better appreciation of all that a composite door offers, you may want to read an article I wrote entitled, Are Composite Doors Safer And More Secure.

    Buy a Fake TV
    If you have a rental property on the bottom floor, or in a single family unit accessible from the first floor with a bedroom window, you may want to consider a fake TV.

    A fake TV convinces people on the outside of your home that you are home watching TV. It’s not a TV, of course, but for about $40, you can make it look like you have a big 40 inch LCD HDTV by pointing the fake 2 3/4″ x 3″ TV at a translucent window shade from within the bedroom in your house. It’s literally the size of your hand, and does a great job making people believe you are home.

    Turn the Radio On When You Leave Your Apartment
    Remember, the objective of a thief is to get in and out as quickly as possible with the least amount of resistance. People generally do not leave the radio on when they are not home. Especially talk radio.

    If you leave the radio on, make sure that you choose a radio station where there is talk radio. The reason you should have “talk radio” playing is because a burglar will hear people talking, which will convince them that a real conversation is taking place.

    Be sure to keep that talk-radio station at conversation level. Something louder than that will give it away. In effect, the burglar on the outside will hear what sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Not enough to make out what they are saying, but enough to know that conversation is taking place.

    One last comment regarding this tip, and that is, make sure that you leave at least one light on. you mean trick the burglar into thinking that you are home talking, but you’re not home talking in the dark.

    Get To Know Your Neighbors
    These days, people can live for years in an apartment and have no idea who their neighbor is next door, or even across the hall. There

    Extending an act of kindness to your neighbor will earn you a set of eyes and ears.

    One act of kindness will go a long way. For example, you could bake a tray of cookies for your neighbor. If you don’t bake, bring them over a bottle of wine. Perhaps you could order a large pizza with all the toppings and have it delivered to your apartment. Once delivered, simply walk over to their door with a fresh hot free pizza in hand. Who doesn’t like pizza?

    These ice-breakers will go a long way in getting to know your neighbor. If after having extended an act of kindness like that, do you think that they would not keep an eye out for you should someone try to break into your home? Extending an act of kindness to your neighbor will earn you a set of eyes and ears to watch over your apartment.

    Closing Thoughts

    Clearly, home security systems are no longer just for home owners.  We have reviewed 4 home security systems at length, and have covered over a dozen things you should seriously consider when purchasing a home security system for your rental property.  You should now be well-equipped in deciding which home security system suits both your budget and family’s needs.

    One final note, however.  If after purchasing one of the 4 home security systems I have recommended, should you find that you don’t like it, . . . sell it on eBay.com or CraigsList.com.  That’s the joy of not entering into a contract or having to run cabling all throughout your home.

    Tim loves writing and helping people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective, enjoys tinkering with computers, and is a die-hard gadget guy, especially when it comes to cell phones :-) When he's not writing another article, he's probably binge-watching Suites or Breaking Bad, (again). To learn more about Tim, click here.