There’s a misconception that renters don’t have as many options as homeowners in terms of home security. Well, that’s a misconception now, but just a few years ago, there really was a great disparity in home security options available to homeowners and renters.
Traditionally, home security companies have features and requirements that are just not renter-friendly. They have long-term contracts and restricting moving policies, and most also require professional installation that may include drilling into walls and hardwiring equipment.
There are still many alarm companies that require those, but thanks to industry disruptors that offer DIY security systems and flexible monitoring contracts, renters today have more options to choose from when it comes to home security.
In this guide, we’ll highlight six renter-friendly security systems that stand out the most, namely, SimpliSafe, Frontpoint, abode, Cove, Brinks, and Ring Alarm. Keep reading to find out more about these options and why they are the best security systems for renters.
Home Security Systems for Renters
Number of security systems tested
Recommended monitoring type
Monthly monitoring cost
Comparison of the Best Renters-Friendly Security Systems
SimpliSafe is the original security system for renters and apartment residents. It was specifically developed in 2006 to meet the needs of renters — easy DIY installation, wireless equipment that doesn’t require any drilling, flexible monitoring options, and affordable components.
One of SimpliSafe’s biggest draws to renters is the easy DIY installation. None of the SimpliSafe products we tested required drilling, and it took us only 30 minutes to set up the entire system. That’s largely thanks to the adhesive-backed sensors that simply stuck on walls, but also because SimpliSafe ships their security systems pre-configured to work right off the box.
DIY, wireless installation
Affordable professional monitoring
Smart home features for 24/7 professional monitoring plan subscribers only
Limited equipment choice
No free cloud recording
Must pay for the equipment upfront
A SimpliSafe starter set costs around $250, which in our experience, is affordable. A security system from a brand like Vivint, for instance, could easily cost you upwards of $500. Better still, SimpliSafe gives users the option not to sign up for professional monitoring, completely eliminating monthly fees.
Still, we recommend getting at least the $17.99 per month Standard plan for 24/7 protection. It’s inexpensive, it connects you to emergency dispatch when needed, and it gives the SimpliSafe system cellular backup. That last one is vital because SimpliSafe uses your home Wi-Fi to send alerts, but with cellular backup, it can alert you and the monitoring center even when your Wi-Fi is down.
Limited Pro Monitoring
24/7 Professional Monitoring
$4.99 for one camera, $9.99 for five cameras
Access to the SimpliSafe app
Yes (up to 10 cameras)
One standout aspect about SimpliSafe is that it develops and manufactures its own equipment, which helps keep costs low. In contrast, many alarm companies use equipment from well-known manufacturers like GE and Honeywell, passing on price markups along the way to consumers. For example, a SimpliSafe motion sensor costs just $29, while the same piece of equipment can cost up to $50 from other brands.
As you’ll find out below, SimpliSafe offers a wide range of security and home safety equipment, from entryway sensors and glass break sensors to wireless indoor and outdoor security cameras.
Each SimpliSafe system builds upon a SimpliSafe Base Station. This small desktop unit plugs into a standard outlet, and it has backup from batteries that work for 24 hours per charge. A technology called Heartbeat constantly checks that the Base Station is in touch with sensors.
The station has an integrated 85-decibel alarm, plus SimpliSafe has options for entry chirps and silent alerts. (Who’s peeking in your medicine cabinet? SimpliSafe can let you know!)
Especially for apartments, SimpliSafe offers a kit called The Foundation. It sells for about $250, but with SimpliSafe’s current deal, you can get it for $160 and receive a free indoor camera. The Foundation includes:
A Base Station
One wireless keypad
One entry sensor
One pet-friendly motion sensor
If you need more pieces, you can easily add them to your cart one by one, or you can simply choose a larger kit. The price, excluding the The Foundation package, ranges from around $300 to $700.
The Essentials (6-piece system)
The Lighthouse (7-piece system with camera)
The Hearth (9-piece system)
The Beacon (10-piece system with cameras)
The Knox (13-piece system)
The Haven (14-piece system)
SimpliSafe is easy to install; most people can install The Foundation in about ten minutes. Optionally you can pay $79 for in-person help.
As for add-ons, the SimpliSafe Base Station can monitor up to 41 sensors. Here’s a small sampling of compatible gadgets and smart home devices:
SimpliCam: With a paid plan (monthly or yearly) you can add video surveillance to your SimpliSafe system and access cameras with a mobile app. SimpliCam is an indoor camera that plugs into a power outlet. Equipped with a motion sensor and wireless chip, it sends alerts to your phone when it detects motion. It also records, saving alert videos in the cloud for 30 days.
Nest thermostats: Nest’s smart thermostats tend to help renters reduce energy bills by at least 10 percent. One reason is that they can detect when you’ve left home, and then adjust heating or cooling as appropriate. You’ll also get the convenience of adjusting the temperature with spoken commands, that is, if you have an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant smart speaker.
August smart locks: Smart locks give you the convenience of keyless entry. With the permission of your property owner, you can replace a standard door lock with a wireless alternative. August smart locks let you assign different PINs and track activity with the SimpliSafe app.
Philips Hue lights: With smart lights by Philips Hue, you can easily adjust your home’s lighting for specific scenarios: dinner with the kids, a romantic dinner for two, a nighttime party, sleep time, and so forth. You can also adjust lights when you aren’t at home, creating an illusion for would-be thieves.
Customers get a 60-day money-back guarantee, and equipment is under warranty.
Frontpoint mixes the advanced features of a traditional home security system with the convenience of a DIY installation to create the best DIY-installed security system for renters.
Frontpoint is one of those systems that require professional monitoring, so if you buy the system, make sure you’re willing to pay a monthly monitoring fee.
That said, installing Frontpoint is a breeze, and because it’s a full-service security system, you’re never on your own. Although you’ll do all the install work yourself, Frontpoint’s customer-centric approach makes it fairly easy to get the help you need from its phone support team.
Great customer service and apps
$99 starter kit
Wireless equipment doesn’t require drilling
No additional fees if you move with the system
$49.99 a month monitoring fee
Long-term contract if you finance your equipment
No self-monitoring option
Cancellation fee if you cancel a long-term contract
Once the system is in place, you’ll need to start paying the monthly fee to get it to work. There’s only one option, and it’s honestly a bit expensive for a basic system at $49.99 per month. That said, this subscription includes cloud storage, home automation, and the typical premium features you get from $60-per-month plans elsewhere, so Frontpoint’s deal is really not bad.
As for the hardware, you can buy a pre-assembled package starting at $129 (but goes for as low as $99 with discounts) or you can customize your own system built around the Frontpoint Hub. The $129 package includes a motion sensor and door sensor, good enough for a studio-type or one-bedroom apartment. If you prefer a larger system, other packages are available for $250 to $350 after discounts.
Whatever size your rental, a single Frontpoint Smart Hub can serve as the control center. It pairs with a wireless keypad for arming and disarming, and you can order extra keypads if you want more control points. It also comes with tamper detection; if someone grabs or smashes the keypad, it will alert Frontpoint and a monitoring center agent will check on you. Other than that, the hub has a siren and battery backup, plus it uses cellular signals for communication.
The Frontpoint Hub also connects with sensors, like motion sensors and door sensors, which we set up in less than 30 minutes. Compatible add-ons are easy to integrate with about 10 minutes of DIY work. Here are some options especially popular with renters of apartments, condos, and houses:
Frontpoint glass break sensor for windows and sliding doors
Frontpoint doorbell camera with motion sensor and two-way voice
Frontpoint smart plug for lamps, fans, and other small appliances
Indoor and outdoor cameras for video surveillance
All Frontpoint equipment is under warranty, plus the systems come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Abode is a young company, but it has already established itself as a leader in renter-friendly security systems thanks to its no-contract and flexible monitoring options.
The most unique advantage of abode is professional monitoring on-demand. By default, abode is a self-monitored security system, but should you need help monitoring your home, abode is at the ready to support you. You can add professional monitoring service one month at a time with no obligations to sign a contract. You can even add monitoring for just three or seven days.
Abode also stands out when it comes to features, as it has one of the most sophisticated home automation features in self-monitored systems. Called CUE, abode’s home automation engine lets you set up schedules, scenes, and routines using your abode equipment and Z-Wave or Zigbee smart home products. For example, you can have your smart lights turn on when your front door opens. Add to that abode’s seamless integration with Alexa and Google Assistant, and you’ve got yourself a smart home security system.
Free and paid self-monitoring and professional monitoring options
Strong home automation offering
Security camera built into the iota hub
Lots of equipment options
Confusing kits and bundles
$6 a month fee for self-monitoring with video monitoring
The latest equipment costs more than other options on this list
Mobile apps have mediocre ratings
The all-in-one abode iota security system with a built-in camera sells for $229. It’s an easy “plug and play” solution, plus it can monitor up to 160 smart devices with Z-Wave or Zigbee technologies wirelessly. For instance, it can connect with smart outlets to automate your lamps, coffee pot, and other plug-in appliances. It’s also great if you’re living in a small living space, as it comes with a security camera built-in.
Abode’s other DIY security option is a system built around the Gateway. The Gateway hub comes with motion sensors and other equipment as parts of kits. It supports Z-Wave and Zigbee, and it can support up to 151 devices.
To self-monitor either type of system, you can use abode’s free mobile app. Professional monitoring is available on-demand via the app. We like how abode lets you be independent but is always available with pro service.
Abode Security Equipment
If you’re renting a smaller space, space-saving is a must-have talent, and the abode iota tower helps you do just that. It’s an all-in-one device. It has a camera, a motion sensor, a siren, a temperature and light sensor. It also functions as a hub for the entire abode system.
The main features built into iota are:
A motion-sensitive IP camera with 127° angle
Privacy mode for the camera (close the shutter)
Two-way audio with VOIP
An 88-decibel siren
Temperature and light sensor
Apps for Amazon Alexa and Google Home
Rechargeable backup battery
With Z-Wave and Zigbee compatibility, an abode home security system can monitor an endless assortment of gadgets wirelessly. Here are a couple of favorites:
With Z-Wave and Zigbee compatibilities, an Abode home security system can wirelessly monitor an endless assortment of gadgets. Here are a couple of favorites:
abode Cam – The abode Cam plugs into any AC outlet for convenient use. Equipped with a wide-angle lens and night vision, it can capture useful video footage without the need for ambient light. Also featuring two-way voice, it’s a handy tool for communicating with housemates, praising a good dog, or telling an intruder that they’re on camera.
Smart Home Power Switch – A smart power switch lets you remotely activate or deactivate any connected appliance, e.g., a lamp, a fan, a curling iron, or a coffee pot. The Abode Smart Home Power Switch is ideal for renters and homeowners alike, as it simply plugs into a standard AC outlet.
Cove may fly under the radar, but it’s a reputable home security company with some of the most affordable DIY equipment we’ve seen. Everything is wireless with Cove, and although it requires professional monitoring, it’s monitoring plans are affordable. Best of all, it’s a no-contract option, so even if you cancel and opt in again, there are no extra fees to cover.
As a DIY company, Cove doesn’t have installation fees as well. And like many brands on this list, the installation process is a breeze. You’ll receive the system, turn on the equipment, and just pair everything to the touch-screen control panel. If you ever need help, Cove’s installation support center is just a call away.
Affordable monitoring starting at $17.99 a month
Cellular backup for all plans
Lacks important components like glass break sensors
Limited home automation features
No self-monitoring option
Only Cove Plus plan members have access to smartphone apps
We’re not ones to make assumptions, but if you’re renting a home rather than owning it outright, money may be a concern. If that’s the case, then Cove is a great option, especially if you’re looking for 24/7 professional monitoring. That’s because all Cove systems include professional monitoring and cellular backup through AT&T for just $17.99 a month to start.
And, if you want Alexa and Google Assistant integrations plus remote control of your system, which we recommend, there’s an option to upgrade to Cove Plus for $27.99 monthly. Considering some other companies charge up to $60 a month for the same features, Cove will definitely save you money with its monthly contracts.
The Cove security system we tested, which came totally pre-programmed, included a Touch Panel, a motion sensor, a door sensor, a key ring remote, and an indoor camera. But aside from that, we could’ve also gotten environmental monitors like smoke, CO, and temperature sensors, along with a medical button.
The indoor camera we actually got for free, and the amazing thing is that none of Cove’s equipment, except for the touchscreen control panel, is over $100; most components fall around $20, and the sensors are wireless, which made installation a breeze. Especially for renters who don’t want to cause damage to their walls, you’ll be able to peel your sensors on and off without doing damage or hardwiring anything.
5. Brinks Home Security - Best Home Security for Apartments
For generations, Brinks has been a home security leader. Today, it’s popular for high-quality wireless equipment, great customer service, and speedy emergency dispatching. Previously, Brinks customers needed long-term contracts, but now Brinks provides flexible monitoring plans for apartments and renters alike.
Robust security system complete with all necessary security components
Every system comes with professional monitoring
Trustworthy company with decades of experience in home security
Wireless equipment doesn’t require drilling
You may still need to sign a contract even if you’re renting
At $39 a month, Brinks monitoring is more expensive than SimpliSafe or abode
Must call Brink’s sales team to buy a system
Equipment can be expensive
When we tested Brinks, it used to give customers the option to use Nest Secure equipment. Now that Nest has discontinued Nest Secure, the only option is to buy Brinks equipment, which centers around a touchscreen control panel. Brinks then monitors security systems for $29 or $39 a month, which isn’t expensive, but also, is not as affordable as other options. Brink’s pricing sits in the middle of the pack.
Home Complete with Video
Smartphone remote control
Live Voice Assist
Cloud video storage
The Brinks touchscreen control panel is actually an IQ 2 control panel from Qolsys.1 It’s actually one of the best touchscreen control panels around. First, it has battery backup and a cellular chip. Together, these two features ensure that the panel stays connected, power or no power.
Next, it has a touchscreen control panel, which is very easy to navigate. You can arm and disarm your system in seconds.
However, for people who don’t know your passcode, the third feature can be disastrous. Whenever someone tries to disarm your system, the panel actually takes a snapshot with its 5 MP camera, which it will forward to you via email. You can use the snapshots as evidence in case that someone is a thief trying to break in.
Most importantly, the control panel serves as the system’s brains. It can connect to hundreds of devices, including:
Door and window sensors
Glass break sensors
Smoke and CO detectors
If any of these sensors detect something amiss, the control panel will alert you and Brinks’ monitoring center.
6. Ring Alarm Security Kit - Best Alexa Compatibility
While many security brands can interact with Amazon’s Alexa, Ring has an insider advantage because Amazon owns Ring. The most obvious perk is that the format for voice commands feels natural; with other companies, command phrases are indirect and might seem awkward.
You often start with “Alexa, tell..” and then the name of your security system. With Ring, you can just say “Alexa, arm my security system.” Ring security makes it especially convenient to automate rental properties, and it doesn’t require hardwiring.
Free to self-monitor
Professional monitoring for $20 a month
Heavy roster of security cameras and video doorbells
Integrations with Alexa, Google Assistant, and other third parties
Professional monitoring, however, costs $20 a month after a 30-day free trial. That’s one of the most affordable monitoring plans we’ve encountered.
The $20 a month Ring Protect Pro plan also lets you store Ring camera videos in the cloud for 60 days, and if you spring for the newer Ring Alarm Pro base station, you’ll get network security features courtesy of eero, as well.
Now, if you don’t mind self-monitoring your system, you can also go for the $3 a month Protect Basic or $10 a month Protect Plus plans. Both plans include 60 days of cloud storage for Ring cameras and doorbells, the only difference is that the Basic plan works on one camera only while the Plus plan works on an unlimited number of cameras, as long as they’re installed in the same address.
For apartments up to 1,000 square feet, we recommend the least expensive RIng Security, which Ring sells for $199. It includes a base station, a wireless keypad, an entry sensor, a motion detector, and a range extender. To this basic setup, you can add various smart devices without altering your rental property. A few examples:
A Ring video doorbell (Hardwiring not required)
A plug-in dimmer switch by GE
A plug-in smart outlet by GE (Automate your appliances)
A Ring Stick Up Cam (Weatherproof)
With the property owner’s permission, you could also install smart door locks by Schlage. These allow for keyless entry. You can assign multiple PINs and track entries with the Ring mobile app.
The selection of Ring video cameras especially attracts shoppers. Keep an eye on your home and parking spot! For any apartment or home rental, the Stick Up Cam, which comes in battery, wired, or solar-powered versions is a favorite add-on. You can install it indoors or outside with no need for hard wiring. Its features include motion detection, night vision, and two-way audio. Also available are weatherproof Ring cameras with floodlights and sirens.
How We Choose Security Systems for Renters
Whenever we’re testing security systems, we check if they meet our high standards in terms of equipment quality, features, installation, monitoring, and more. However, with security systems for renters, we added a few more requirements. Check them out below.
As renters ourselves, we know that one of our top priorities is to make sure we don’t lose our security deposit when we install a security system. Immediately, we ruled out security systems that require drilling or hardwiring. We want our security systems to be flexible when it comes to installation, so we only selected wireless security systems. As for the manner of installation, we don’t mind installing the system ourselves, but it sure is nice to have the option of professional installation.
As renters, the last thing we want is another burdensome monthly fee. Although monthly fees are normal with professionally monitored security systems, we selected the systems with the most affordable fees. The most affordable we tested was Ring Alarm, at only $10 a month, and the most expensive on the list is Frontpoint, at $49.99 a month. That’s a pretty low range, given that monthly fees can go as high as $60 with other companies.
We also factored in the cost of equipment. Sure, many other companies offer to finance, but taking up those offers will likely cost you in the long run. All the systems on this list offer the option to pay for the equipment up front. That, by the way, is one reason why monthly fees are low.
While monitoring contracts are normal in the home security business, we understand why most renters think twice about committing long-term with alarm companies. Things can change financially at any time, and when that happens, long-term contracts will only make it harder to adapt.
With most of our top picks, you don’t need a long-term contract. Subscriptions auto-renew every month, but if you need to, you can pause your monthly payments for any reason. You don’t need to explain to the companies, and you don’t need to pay cancellation fees. The only companies on our list that may require contracts are Frontpoint and Brinks, but even they have month-to-month options if you purchase your system upfront instead of financing it.
Renters need just as much security as homeowners, if not more. Fortunately, studies have proven that alarm systems are effective in fighting crime. However, for alarm systems to work, you have to make sure they have all the necessary components, such as door sensors, window sensors, motion sensors, and of course, cameras.
Equipment is just one half of the equation, though; you also need monitoring. If you decide to self-monitor, we recommend getting a system with smartphone access so you can watch over your apartment wherever you are. Text and email alerts also come in handy.
If you want to invest in professional monitoring, features like cellular backup, battery backup, and home automation can make all the difference. Cellular and battery backup ensure that your system can protect your apartment even during power or internet outages. Home automation, on the other hand, lets you double down on your home security with the help of smart locks, for instance, to strengthen your front door security.
Choosing a security system for a rental home is hard, so if you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Meanwhile, let's answer some of the frequently asked questions about security systems for renters.
Absolutely, you can install a security system in a rental. There are no laws that prohibit renters from getting security systems. However, it is best practice to inform your landlord before installing anything in a rented home, such as a security system. In most cases, it helps if the security system is wireless and therefore doesn’t require drilling during installation.
The best security systems for renters are those that don’t require long-term contracts, don’t need any home alterations such as drilling, and are easy to move to another property.Based on our tests, SimpliSafe is the best security system for renters. Cove, Frontpoint, abode, Brinks, and Ring Alarm are also great options:
Security systems for renters cost $200 upwards, depending on how many sensors and devices the system includes. Most security systems for renters require an upfront payment of the system cost in order to get a month-to-month contract as opposed to a long-term contract. Aside from the equipment, we recommend getting a professional monitoring service, which costs $10 to $50 per month from our top picks.
You can install security cameras in a rented property as long as it only monitors the property you’re renting. It is best practice to ask your landlord for permission before purchasing cameras, and it also helps if the security cameras are wireless and don’t require drilling.