Leases, deposits, decorating, roommates—with everything to stress over in a new apartment, security should bring you some relief. Whether you rent a multiroom house or small studio, you can still feel safe at home with the right security system.
Security systems with short contracts and easy installation are a good fit for most renters. Easy installation means it doesn’t require you to drill holes in your apartment’s walls or add wiring that will be hard to remove when you leave. In short, we looked for security systems that won’t add to your monthly bills or require a lot of effort to move from home to home.
SimpliSafe is our overall favorite for renters of all types. It’s low commitment, easy to set up, and effective. You can opt for professional monitoring or self-monitoring through your phone. While the professional monitoring requires a monthly fee, it doesn’t cost much more than renters insurance.
Next up is Frontpoint, with the best of DIY installation we encountered. It takes more time to cook dinner than it does to set up this system. The Frontpoint app will guide you through the setup, and the sensors have peel-and-stick backing for easy installation and repositioning. To sweeten the deal, two of the product packages require only $99 down, so it’s affordable for renters on a budget.
Finally, Cove is our pick for the best security system for apartments. Product packages are à la carte, so whether you rent a studio or three-bedroom apartment, you’ll have just the right amount of equipment. Cove is also a great alarm system for the commitment-averse or renters with short-term leases because it doesn’t require a contract.
SimpliSafe provides the best overall security for renters because it’s affordable, low-commitment, and portable. This security system offers four equipment packages under $250. Each has a smart hub, keypad, and enough sensors for a small house or apartment. Installation is as simple as opening the box then activating the sensors. Easy setup means easy moving too, so you can take SimpliSafe with you from rental to rental.
SimpliSafe also has a month-to-month, cancel-anytime monitoring policy. Contracts aren’t necessary for this service and you can monitor your system from your phone alongside the pros with the higher tier monitoring plan. SimpliSafe’s two monitoring options cost around $15 or $25 a month.
If you can set up a Bluetooth speaker, you can set up Frontpoint. The control panel comes preprogrammed, ready to connect to your Wi-Fi, and the sensors have an easy adhesive backing that sticks to your walls. Frontpoint is a good match for renters because installation is a breeze and doesn’t require drilling any holes in your walls, making it easy to take with you if you move.
Currently, there are two basic equipment packages that require only a $99 down payment to get started. Both the Safe Home Everyday and Safe Home Plus packages come with enough sensors for a small house or condo. No matter which option you choose, you’ll have to sign up for a three-year monitoring contract and pay for your equipment. This may not be the best deal for short-term renters or those in apartments, but if you’re in a larger rental property or have a long lease, Frontpoint could be a good fit.
Cove stands out as the best alarm system for apartment dwellers and renters with short leases because it offers professional monitoring without the long contracts. You can pay a lump sum up front for all your equipment and get a discounted monthly monitoring rate. Or you can skip the equipment payment and pay a little more for monitoring each month. Either way you can cancel anytime, free of penalty.
You can also customize your equipment package, so you can build your system à la carte. None of the sensors are expensive, but they are priced individually, so it’s best for smaller apartments and studios. For example, studio apartments need only one contact sensor ($15) and one motion detector ($30) for the whole space. Cove has a good deal of equipment, we just wish they had some better home automation options.
Low monthly monitoring fee
Custom equipment packages
Limited smart home abilities
Limited video monitoring
More Renter Security Systems Worth a Look
Everyone rents differently, so we included more outstanding systems to consider for your apartment or house.
For its price and the equipment you get, Scout is a good choice for small rentals like condos. The basic plan includes motion sensors, a smart hub, and key fobs. It misses the mark on home automation features like smart doorbells, but it’s the only system we encountered with RFID stickers.
These clever stickers automatically convert any object to touchpoint to arm or disarm your system. They attach to almost any flat, dry surface, the location is up to you. For example, place one in your car so your home is ready to welcome you when you arrive with an armful of groceries.
For over $200, Scout’s initial payment is a little higher than normal, but its monthly monitoring fees are the most affordable in our lineup. For under $20 a month, you can get professional monitoring for your system. You can also opt for self-monitoring, but you’ll have to pay $9.99 per month for the app. If you don’t mind a considerable initial payment for an affordable monthly one, this may be the system for your rental. Get more information about Scout in our full review.
There’s no way around it, the Nest Secure system costs a pretty penny up front. At almost $400, you get a basic security system with a lot of smart home features. The good news is you don’t have to pay anything after this initial installment. Optional professional monitoring is available through Brinks at a reasonable monthly cost.
Nest is known for its third-party compatibility, so it’s great for anyone who loves smart home gadgets like the Philips Hue lightbulb. Several of the included Nest products pull double duty too. For example, the smart hub is also a keypad and the contact sensors act as motion detectors. Overall, Nest Secure is worth the price if you want advanced home automation and security rolled into one system. Our full Nest Secure review has more information.
GetSafe is new on the home security scene, but it’s already made an impression. You don’t have to sign a contract, but you can sign up for a one- or three-year deal for some extra perks like an included starter kit or extra equipment.
The starter kit includes a smart hub, entry sensor, motion detector, window stickers, cables, and accessories. It’s also the only DIY security system we’ve seen that comes with an included siren (a good way to scare off intruders fast). Other systems usually build sirens or alarms into the base station. A separate device lets you place your siren in a spot you and your neighbors can hear in an emergency.
If you’re interested in video monitoring, GetSafe has several cameras to choose from including an outdoor, mini indoor, and a unique 360-degree spherical camera to capture your entire room or studio.
Things to Consider before You Buy
You can pay top dollar for a new security system, but if you don’t find one that suits your rental, outlives your lease, and doesn’t strain your monthly budget, it won’t do you much good.
The good news is you’ll never want for options when shopping for apartment home security. Plenty of systems offer customizable packages or preprogrammed plans. What really matters is coverage. Be sure you have enough door and window sensors to protect all your major entrances like front doors, sliding doors, and large windows.
Contract length can also come into play when protecting your rental. Look for systems that accept month-to-month payments if you have a shorter lease or tend to move often. For established renters, longer contracts aren’t a total deal breaker. Just make sure your system is easy to move from place to place.
How can I protect my rental on a budget?
It’s hard to beat a reliable security system, but if it’s not in the cards for your budget or rental, there are other options. Before you move in, make sure your landlord changes the locks on your rental. You never know who still has a spare key to your new home. You can also ask your landlord if you can install a deadbolt or any extra latches for your main entrances. Learn more in our Apartment Security Guide for Renters.
Can I get a discount on my renters insurance for having a security system?
Yes! It depends on your insurance company, but some like Farmer’s and Allstate offer up to 15% off for having security or safety devices in your rental.1
Do I need to sign a contract for a security system?
While there are systems with contracts available, we found a handful of great systems that don’t require any long-term commitment. Alarm systems like SimpliSafe and Cove, for example, let you pay month to month for professional monitoring. Options like Scout and Nest let you monitor your own system.
How We Picked the Best Security Systems for Renters
The security needs of small apartment renters are different from those with roommates or larger properties. We kept this in mind as we read through user manuals, watched installation tutorials, and browsed customer reviews. As a woman renting alone, security has always been a priority of mine. I also kept my experience in mind throughout researching and writing this piece. Factors like installation, monthly price, and reliable monitoring were my priorities when rating these security systems for renters. Learn more about how we choose all the systems we review from our full methodology.