Apartment Security

Imagine how you would feel, if someone who you cared about was brutally attacked inside their apartment unit. Imagine how you would feel if you learned that the assailant gained entry by either using an old key or by easily kicking the door open. Wouldn’t you be upset? Wouldn’t you what the apartment property manager punished for not acting responsibly? This is precisely why lawsuits are filed.

Starting today, take a look at all your apartment units to see if they comply with these basic security rules:

  • Landlord – Always re-key or replace deadbolt locks at resident turnover
  • Landlord – Always use 3″ screws for strike plates on wooden doorjambs
  • Always use secondary blocking devices for sliding doors and windows
  • Always use anti-lift devices on sliding doors and windows
  • Landlord – Always replace window screens if missing or damaged
  • Landlord – Always use wide-angle 160-degree peepholes on entry doors
  • Landlord – Always participate in and document a new resident walk-through
  • Landlord – Always respond quickly to resident lock-repair requests

Could the Landlord be responsible for the security of your apartment – maybe!

  • Smith v. Lagow Constr. & Developing Co.,  N.W.2d, No. 21530, 2001 WL 1816715 (S.D. Mar. 13, 2002).
  • The South Dakota Supreme Court held that a landlord who maintains exclusive control over the changing of locks may be liable for criminal conduct committed by individuals who entered a tenant’s apartment by using a key.
  • Cain v. Vontz, 703 F2d 1279, 1283 (11thCir 1983) – Imposing liability for broken or nonexistent apartment door locks
  • Braitman v. Overlook Terrace Corp., 346 A2d 76, 77 (NJ 1975) – defective deadbolt on apartment door

Alabama Landlord Tenant Law

This has been an over looked topic for years. One of the things I recalled about growing up in an apartment is that there were many times I could tell someone had been in our apartment without authorization. Maintenance and management were supposed to let us know if they were coming in, but they rarely did. The following is a list of tips I came up with to help prevent problems of burglary, theft, or just unwanted snoops.

  • The landlord will more than likely have a key to your apartment. Keep valuables locked up separately. Secure bills, mail, and other sensitive personal information in a locked desk.
  • Consider a nanny cam. An inexpensive camera disguised as a clock radio or some such thing can be a very valuable tool.
  • When in your apartment have a secondary locking device on your apartment door that is easy to operate and undo during an emergency like a fire. Check with your landlord however, before installing anything that would be permanent.
  • Chain locks are pretty much worthless – with just a little force they can be forced.
  • I could also open any door that was only locked at the handle with a piece of cardboard or plastic card. Always use your deadbolt, home or not.
  • door alarm can be good, just a simple personal alarm attached to your door that will sound when the door opens. This can at least awake you up if the door is opened when you are sleeping. Of course, this is only for when you are home.
  • While this trick I came up with is kind of a hack job, it actually works pretty good in practice. If you suspect unwanted visitors when you’re away, take a strip of tin foil, as smooth as possible, and place it under a door mat kept on the inside of the door. Anyone stepping on the mat will leave an impression. At worse you’ll know someone was there, at best you might even get an identifiable imprint.
  • Of course, all normal safety practices still apply to an apartment.
  • Sliding glass door are always a problem. The solution is quite simple, cut a broom handle and lay it in the door track to jam the door closed.
  • Keep alert, be safe.