For a long time, there had been a great disparity in home security options available to homeowners and renters, but thanks to industry disruptors that pioneered DIY, wireless security systems, that divide is essentially gone now. Today, renters and homeowners alike have a wide array of home security options from which to choose.
That being said, there are still several factors to consider if you’re renting before you buy a home security system. One is the contract. If you see yourself moving in the next couple of years, it’s important to choose a system that you can take with you and won’t penalize you for doing so. (Security systems with long-term contracts often charge moving fees.)
Another factor is the equipment. Unless you’re ready to lose your security deposit, you should choose a security system that doesn’t require drilling, wiring, or any modification to your rented space.
The bottom line is that even though there are more options now, not all systems are renter-friendly. That’s why we tested dozens of security systems to find out which ones are best for renters. Taking into account their contracts, prices, policies, and equipment, we found that these six brands stand out.
Home Security Systems for Renters
Number of security systems tested
Recommended monitoring type
Monthly monitoring cost
Comparison of the Best Renters-Friendly Security Systems
Founded in 2006, SimpliSafe was one of the industry disruptors that pioneered DIY security systems. In fact, it was designed specifically for apartment security. It offers wireless equipment, contract-free professional monitoring, and affordable monitoring options.
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 $200. That’s more than the minimum for a Frontpoint system (below), but with SimpliSafe, you can avoid monthly fees and self-monitor the system. That said, we highly recommend signing up for professional monitoring because it’s inexpensive. A SimpliSafe professional monitoring plan costs at least $17.99 per month, and with that you’ll get cellular backup for your system. That means it can alert you even when your internet is down. Without a plan, SimpliSafe relies on your internet connection to generate alerts.
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)
To help keep costs low, SimpliSafe manufactures the equipment it sells; it doesn’t pass along markups. For example, you can buy SimpliSafe indoor motion sensors for just $29 each. These are pet-friendly, have night vision, cover a wide area, and can serve for about seven years before the batteries run out. Competitors sell comparable equipment for two to three times the price!
SimpliSafe also makes affordable entryway monitors, wireless indoor and outdoor cameras, glass break sensors, and other equipment. As detailed below, the base station can monitor equipment from select third parties as well.
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
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.
We recommend Frontpoint security systems for short-term and long-term renters. With Frontpoint, you can choose between a month-to-month contract if you pay for your equipment upfront, or a long-term contract if you avail equipment financing. Speaking of equipment, the Frontpoint systems are renter-friendly; you can even set up outdoor cameras without altering the property.
The best part about Frontpoint, however, is the installation process. Usually, if you go with a DIY system, you’re on your own to figure out how to make the system work. With Frontpoint, dedicated customer support is just a call away for any installation and setup queries. You can even have them stay on the line and walk you through the process step by step.
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 you’ve installed the Frontpoint system, monthly bills start rolling in. You get the Ultimate plan for $49.99 per month, which is the only monitoring plan from Frontpoint. It includes everything from home security with smartphone access to home automation, voice control, and video monitoring.
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 emerging as a major competitor to SimpliSafe, the longtime leader in no-contract home security for renters. Both companies sell affordable starter kits and offer optional monitoring. Abode has the advantage of better integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, and it’s the better choice if you want to automate lots of home features. It’s the best brand if you want outdoor video surveillance too; Abode supports wireless weatherproof cameras, while SimpliSafe has an indoor camera and doorbell camera only.
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 living space, you know the importance of multi-purpose devices to save some space. The abode iota tower is one such device. It’s a hub for the abode system, but it also has other integrated features that make it a great all-in-one device.
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 is a new company, but it has already made a name for itself with its affordable security systems and monitoring rates. All Cove systems come with 24/7 professional monitoring, but as a no-contract alarm company, Cove doesn’t charge cancellation fees. As renters ourselves, we appreciated that. There are also no installation fees, as the system is DIY, and you can take the system with you when it’s time to move.
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.