The Ultimate Guide to Flat Security
This part of the ultimate guide to home security we look at your Flat security. Flats often have multiple access points as well as relying on other tenants to ensure entry to the apartments is secure. Our guide looks at what you can do to secure your flat / apartment.
It’s a known fact that you are less likely to be burgled in a flat or apartment when you compare the risk to a detached house, but it’s still imperative that you stay on top of your home security. Flats are less attractive targets as people tend to live closer together and there is a higher risk that someone might see or hear an intruder, however ensuring that you take the appropriate measures to prevent burglaries is essential to home security.
We’ve used our expert security knowledge to put together the ultimate guide to flat security, where all the tips, tricks, and recommendations you’ll ever need for flat security will be below!
Security Guide: How to Safely Secure your Flat / Apartment
Although flats have less entry points and are generally lower risk to burglary it’s still important to ensure that your flat is a secure as possible. It’s not inside your home that you need to be cautious of but also the outside and surrounding building that will contribute to flat security.
Starting from the Outside: The Block of Flats
When thinking of flat security, the first place to start is the outside. Make sure that the building as adequate security lighting installed and that it functions properly. Security lighting is a great way to take away dark spots where some can lurk and can greatly reduce the risk of burglary.
Read more about outdoor lighting in the Keytek® Outdoor Security Lighting Guide.
Next, ensure that any shrubbery, bushes, or hedges are maintained and don’t obscure any entries to the building or block the view from the road or any security cameras that the building might have. Reduced viability can leave your home vulnerable to attack as it gives any intruders an easier way in. Communal gardens that are unkempt and obscure views give intruders opportunities to remain un noticed, so ensuring that an intruder’s opportunity is minimised is key to flat security. Read more about garden security here in the Keytek® Garden Security Guide.
If you are concerned about any security issues with the outside of flat building, then you need to contact your landlord or agent who can then contact the building maintenance team.
Outbuildings: Bins, Bike Storage and Sheds
The next step to consider in flat security is any outbuildings that belong to the flat. If your block of flats has outside storage, such as sheds or bike racks, ensure that any lights and security doors are working correctly as covered dark spaces can invite loitering and antisocial behaviour at night. So, you need to be sure that these are secured correctly if they aren’t making sure to inform your landlord or estate agent.
Fire and Communal Doors
When evaluating the security of the communal entry to your flat or apartment building always make sure that fire regulations take precedence and if you are in doubt of this the Police advice contacting your local Fire Officer and your local police Crime Prevention Officer.
There is most likely going to be a robust looking communal door that everyone has to go through to get into your flat or apartment building. These are normally operated by fob, key card or biometric reader, meaning only a person with the right access can gain entry to the property. This gives you another level of safety, as a burglar will have to get through two doors before they reach the inside of your home. However, with the amount of people coming in and out of the door, they are likely to need a lot of maintenance, so you need to let your landlord or building manager know if it needs repairing. They are also susceptible to tampering, by placing something over the magnet in the mechanism of the door, meaning the door can simply be pushed open.
When it comes to actually securing your flat, you first need to understand the risks of your flat. Are you ground floor? Do you have a balcony that can easily be accessed? Is your entrance covered and badly lit? A ground floor flat is more at risk of burglary than one on the first or second floor, whereas having an easily accessed balcony can also make you more at risk. Understanding the risk of your flat will help to make sure you properly secure it.
These are all things to consider when securing your flat or apartment. Different flats can hold different risks for different reasons but what is the most important to remember is make use of your door and window locks to ensure that your home remains safe, and you are on top of your flat security.
Apartment Security Quick Tips
- Avoid dark public areas; you never know what might be lurking, so always try to stay in well-lit areas.
- Know your neighbours; simply saying hello to a neighbour will allow people to suspicious behaviour and report if anything doesn’t seem right.
- Don’t hide keys; Burglars will know where to look for a hidden key, if you worried about not be able to get into your property a good alternative is giving a key to a trusted neighbour.
- Be cautious with strangers; when a stranger comes knocking don’t let them into your home, they might not have bad intentions but you can never be too cautious.
- Utilize your locks; always lock your doors and windows where you are in or out of the house.
- Take care with valuables; never leave valuables visible through windows or doors that could tempt an intruder
- Change the locks; both you and the landlord won’t know if there are rogue spare keys somewhere, best course of action is to change the locks for your peace of mind.
- Report anything suspicious; whether its people or a situation it is always best to report it to your building manager.
- Check the cameras work; cameras are the best deterrent to prevent burglaries, always report if you notice that something is blocking a camera.
- Give the impression someone is in; device timers are a great way to connect to lamps and radios to give the impression that someone is at home.
General Flat Security – What You Can Do to Improve It
1. Make Sure You Lock Doors and Windows
It might seem like a no brainer to lock windows and doors at night or when you leave the flat, but did you know that 22% of burglaries that happen are when the burglar knows the occupant is home! Making sure your doors and windows are locked, even when at home can help to improve your flat security.
2. Get the Locks Changed
Replacing your locks reduces the risk of unwanted people to gain access to your new flat. Don’t rely on your landlord to have changed them but do seek their permission before changing them. Neither you nor the landlord know if any extra copies of the keys were made, so there could be many replica keys out there. Make sure you employ a professional locksmith to change your locks, as if you attempt it yourself, this could invalidate your insurance.
3. Consider Getting a Security Camera
Whether it’s an outdoor security camera that you place on your balcony or an indoor security camera that you position in the hallway, a security camera is a good way to secure you home whilst your away. Having some sort of recording device helps to greatly reduce the risk of your flat becoming a target and helps to maintain your flat security.
4. Get a Smart Home System
It is always a good idea to think about what additional home security can be fitted to ensure you are taking the necessary precautions to protect your home and equally as important yourself. As part of the ‘Easy Fit’ range, Yale has developed an alarm specifically designed for those living in a flat or apartment. The Yale Easy Fit Apartment Alarm is a keypad operated system that when triggered a loud internal siren will sound and alert others of an intrusion.
If you want to install a more complicated wired home alarm system, then you may need permission from your landlord or building owner. That why it’s easier to get a Wi-Fi alarm system, which gives your flat or apartment the cover its needs. Yale isn’t the only company that do Wi-Fi alarms.
Samsung have released their ‘Smart Things home security system’ this has been made to link with lots of third party smart home systems, such as Sonos, Phillips Hue and Yale systems. If you are looking to get a ‘smart home’ then Samsung is the way to go; based around the Hub, you get a Multi Sensor, for doors and windows, a Motion Sensor, Presence Sensor that lets you know people arrive or leave home and a Power Outlet plug that controls anything plugged into it.
Panasonic also do a home security system, and it’s better for those who are less technologically minded. The starter kit contains a smart hub, Indoor siren, motion sensor and a door and window sensor. It boasts a ‘one button’ set up, so you wont be struggling to get it working, and it’s also one of the cheapest home security systems out there.
There are plenty more smart home systems on the market, so it’s worth doing some research about which one would be best for your flat or apartment.
Learn more about Smart Home Security here.
5. Fit a Letterbox Guard
A letterbox guard or cage will help to prevent an intruder from using a letterbox to gain access to your flat or apartment. It will also help to prevent a method used by burglars to gain entry called ‘key fishing’ where they will use some sort of makeshift device, usually made from household items, to fish your keys from your door lock or where they are hung up.
6. Fit a Door Viewer
Have a door viewer fitted so you can see who is calling before opening the door which helps you to keep out any unwanted visitors. We recommend installing one that is wide-angle with 160o of vision.
7. Rental Insurance
Yes! You probably do need it! If you are renting through an agency, then it’s more than likely that it will be a requirement of the contract. Your landlords will have specific landlord insurance, but that’s for fixing any broken windows or doors after a break in. They’re not going to replace any personal items that have been taken, such as TV’s or laptops. Even if it’s not a requirement of your landlords, its good practice to have rental insurance, if you are burgled then you’re probably not going to be able to afford to replace lots of valuable items.
Learn more about home, flat and valuables insurance in the Keytek® Guide to Insurance.
How to Secure Your Apartment from Burglary
- Change the locks when you first move in to ensure that the only people with a key are the people that are supposed to.
- Make sure your doors and windows are locked, including sliding doors and patio doors, when you go to bed or leave the flat.
- Get to know your neighbours, so that they can better identify if any suspicious behaviour is going on.
- Consider using a timer to turn random lights off and on, so that when you go out it looks like someone is home.
- Consider installing a security system.
5 Best Locks to Have for Flat Security
A swing lock is relatively inexpensive and really easy to install. Its acts as a back up to your main lock and allows your door to be opened a few inches. This means you can speak to whoever is on the other side without compromising your safety.
This type of lock works alongside your doors primary lock. Made from chrome plated carbon steel, it easily adjusts to most thicknesses and is easily installed and removed within a matter of minutes; no drilling required.
Grade 1 Deadbolt
The average latch lock can easily be defeated by a credit card, whereas a deadbolt requires your key to retract the bolt from the steel plate. This means serious force would have to be used in order to break through this lock, leaving you with better peace of mind.
Often seen as an even more secure version of the deadbolt, a mortice sits within the body of the door instead of the surface. This extra safety does come with a heftier price tag, but security is always worth it.
For those who think technology is the way forward, you might want to invest in a smart lock that will unlock with your phone or even a fingerprint. There are many different variations from Bluetooth to Biometric to choose from that will give you that extra layer of security. Don’t panic, as although you don’t have to use a key to open the door, it is still an option.
Can I Change the Locks if Renting?
Changing the locks without the knowledge of your landlord is a breach of contract; legally a landlord is entitled to hold keys for any rental properties that they own. However, in some contracts there may be a clause regarding the changing of locks. The best course of action would be to read over your tenancy agreement to fully understand what you are entitled to and to simply have a conversation with your landlord about the issue, just be prepared to front the cost!
Apartment Window Security
You may want to think about getting some additional security for windows, especially if you live on the ground floor. What you need is dependent on what type of window you have. Depending on your window type you may want to get.
- Pin Lock- they can prevent burglars from lifting your ground floor window
- Keyed Locks- the locks require keys to get them open
- Hinged Wedge Locks- these are good security for a double hung window
- Sash Locks- these locks allow a window to open and also be held shut in place.
You may want to invest in some window sensors that alert you when the window has been opened.
Tempered glass can be up to 4x stronger than normal glass. Tempered glass will make it harder to gain entry to your flat by breaking the glass. It will take them longer to smash it, meaning that they run the risk of being disturbed.
Window bars are effective because even if a burglar smashes your window, they will still not be able gain entry to your ground floor flat. Don’t be put off by the standard bars you see, you can find decorative bars that are effective for security but still look presentable.
Having thorny shrubs around your windows could put a burglar off from trying to get in. however the shrubs should not obscure your window from view, as this allows a burglar will be able to go unseen.
For more advice on window security, read the Keytek® Window Security Guide.
Ground Floor Flat Security
If you live on a ground floor flat, then you could potentially be more vulnerable to break-ins. This is because burglars have easier access to windows and doors. Our advice is applicable to all flats and apartments; however, those living on the ground floor need to think a bit more about their security.
Ground floor flats or even basement flats are higher risk of burglary when compared to higher level flats, it is tough that these flats are up to 48% more likely to suffer a burglary.
Are Ground Floor Flats Safe?
Yes, ground floor flats are considered to be just as safe as living in a house. As they are ground floor it is easier for a burglar to force entry compared to a flat on the first or second floor but pose no more risk than if you were to live in a house.
How To Secure Ground Floor Apartment Windows
- Make sure they are locked when you leave the flat. This is the first step in ensuring that your windows are secured.
- Upgrade your locks. This makes it harder for someone to force entry. Consider installing a pin lock or sash lock.
- Install window sensors. This will alert you if someone opens the window.
- Consider investing in security bars and grilles. This makes it hard for people to enter the flat even if the window has been broken.
- Invest in motion lighting. If someone approaches your windows the light will deter intruders from trying to enter.
Apartment Security Cameras
Installing permanent security cameras within a rented apartment may be a bit too complicated whilst there are other options of smart devices that don’t require rewiring or permanent installation but will still offer that protection. Products like Nest cam can link to apps that allow you to check out live footage and view motion clips, allowing you reassurance that you will know what’s happening in your home when you’re away.
Apartment Security Cameras Laws
There are no set rules for CCTV but the general rule for security cameras is that an individual has the right to protect their property by CCTV when used in appropriate measures such as for safety. However, it must not infringe on the privacy of any other individuals as that would be against their rights and can cause disruption and anti-social behaviour.
If you do decide to install security cameras, consider just letting your neighbours aware so that they don’t feel uncomfortable.
You can visit Gov.uk for more official government guidance on security cameras.
Apartment Car Park Security
Often in larger flat buildings communal areas, such as garages, are the places where you are most vulnerable. As mentioned before dark places can invite anti-social behaviour so you must be extra cautious when alone in these areas. You can stay safe by:
- Parking in well-lit areas
- Don’t leave valuables in your car – or at least don’t leave them in plain sight
- Always lock your car no matter where you have parked
- Make sure that your car alarm is in working order
Your Apartment Security Questions Answered
Yes, you can! As long as you don’t infringe on any other individual’s privacy and it’s used in a reasonable manner.
First thing would be to change the lock and install any extra security measures, such as a viewer or a door limiter. Finally, check that your door is properly installed and is bolted in place with long screws.
One of the easiest ways to prevent theft is not leaving anything of value in plain sight of windows and doors as to tempt an intruder.
There is no way to 100% prevent a burglary, but you can use security systems that will allow you to monitor your home whilst your away and through the use of external features such as bright outdoor lights that make your home more visible it will deter burglars from targeting your home.