(ARA) – Owning a home may be the American Dream, but the American reality is that most people’s first home is a rental. And the number of people who choose to rent as a permanent housing arrangement is on the rise, according to national statistics.
In 2004, more than 36 million households occupied rental units in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And the statistics show that rental living is not exclusive to young singles; more than 50 percent of all rentals are occupied by families. In fact in the northeast, west coast and central cities, more homes are rentals than owner-occupied.
“In June, the FBI announced that burglary is on the rise in nearly every area of the country,” says Jeff Butler, a home security expert with Protect America. “Rental homes are as much targets of thieves as single-family dwellings. They may even seem more appealing to criminals since they might believe renters are less inclined to take security measures to protect their homes.”
“Home security is as important for renters as for any homeowner,” says Butler. “And taking steps to secure your rental home doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.”
If you rent your home, consider taking the following steps to make your living space as secure as possible:
* Make sure all your window and door locks are in working order. When you move into a rental unit, the landlord should be willing to either change the locks or have the tumblers replaced. If he or she is not, invest the money and do it yourself. Many communities now require rental properties to have deadbolts that can only be opened – from either side of the door – with a key. Check your local and state rental laws and gently, but firmly, require your landlord to meet those safety standards.
* Get to know your neighbors. Join or consider founding a neighborhood watch organization in your building. “Caring, watchful neighbors can be one of your best defenses against a break in,” says Butler. “By getting to know you, they’ll also get to know who does – and doesn’t – belong in your apartment when you’re away.”
* Look into renters insurance. Basic coverage can cost as little as $150 per year, a small price to pay for protection against loss not just from theft, but from natural disasters, fire, etc. Most major insurance providers underwrite renters’ policies, and many online insurers specialize in providing coverage to renters.
* Invest in a home security system. New technologies and responsive home security companies, like Protect America, are making it possible for renters to install the same security monitoring systems in their rental units that homeowners place in their houses. Protect America recently began offering its wireless GE home security systems with an innovative program that allows renters to take the system and the monitoring service with them when they move.
Historically, moving a home security system has been cost prohibitive for renters. Many companies required a three-year contract for monitoring services, while most leases are for just one year. Renters who wanted to move their service often had to have a new system installed in their new residence and pay fees associated with canceling service at one location and initiating it at a new site.
Because Protect America’s security systems are easily installed by the homeowner (with live, walk-through support from an experienced technical advisor), moving the system to a new location is simple. Since installation requires no changes to the apartment (“You don’t even have to put a screw in the wall,” Butler says.), there are no landlord issues. And much like satellite companies that allow subscribers to move their service to a new location, Protect America’s service allows subscribers to simply move the service to their new address.
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