After my son had a break-in at this house, he and his roommates went on high alert to make their home more secure. They suspected a former roommate (or her friends), which added extra considerations to their security quest. But they didn’t own the house, and they had limited funds to invest.
This situation isn’t unique. Today, more people are living in shared housing arrangements than ever before. In 2017, nearly 79 million adults lived in a shared household—that’s almost 32% of all adults in America. Compare that to 1995, when 55 million adults were living in shared households.
Roommate life is definitely having a moment.
Whether you’re living with roommates for fun or necessity, you have specific security needs when you share your home with others. You may want to protect your room, limit access to certain cupboards or drawers, or add the extra protection of a home security system.
Whatever your roommate-security goals are, we’ve got tips and solutions to help you up the safety quotient in your current living situation.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the one moving in or the one looking for a roommate—safety starts before you sign the lease.
If you’re taking applications for a new roommate, make background checks part of the process. And you don’t have to sweat the cost if you include it as part of an application fee.
On the flip side, if you’re looking at moving into someone’s home, you should know that you’re not moving in with a closeted serial killer. Ask the person advertising for a roommate if they’ll let you run a background check on them. This one you’re going to have to pay for, but it’s worth it to avoid moving in with someone shady.
Ideally, you’ll get both a background check and some references. But if you can’t get a background check, references are the next best thing. If you’re the one renting out a room, ask for references from previous landlords, roommates, or even their employer. You want to know that this person is reliable, respectful, and is going to make those rent payments on time.
If you’re looking to move into a roommate situation, ask for references from the people already living in the home. If you can get in touch with someone else who’s lived in the home before, that’s the best kind of reference. That person can give you a realistic picture of what it’s like to live with those folks—and let you know some of the quirks and pet peeves up front.
Best of all, references help you know that you can trust the people you’re going to share a home with.
Security priorities can vary depending on who you’re living with and what you’re trying to protect. If your primary goal is to keep your personal stuff safe, then you want to look for security solutions that focus on your room and belongings. If the entire household wants to protect the property, then look at home security options for renters that are affordable and easy to install.
If you’ve ever lived with a roommate, you’ve probably had some kind of security breach—whether it’s a sweater borrowed without permission or something worse. In the comments, tell us about your roommate security story and what you did to resolve the issue.