Best Home Security Systems for Renters
Even if you're not a homeowner, protecting your home is essential.
Renters and homeowners sometimes have different priorities for home security. Homeowners might not mind long-term contracts, but the best home security systems for renters are generally contract-free. Also, renters may be especially interested in:
- Not altering the home (No drilling into walls)
- Having portable security equipment (It can move to your next home)
Below is our rundown of the six best home security systems for renters in 2021. Most companies in this review let you choose contract-free setups, and each has completely wire-free options. You can easily install a doorbell camera, smart outlets, and other equipment without altering the rental. Along with basic home security, these systems can support video surveillance, wireless smoke detectors, remote-controlled lights, and other features.
Home Security Systems for Renters
|Number of security systems tested||40|
|Recommended monitoring type||Professional|
|Contract length||1-36 months|
|Monthly monitoring cost||$10- $60|
Comparison of the Best Renters-Friendly Security Systems
Brinks Home Security
Ring Alarm Security Kit
|Installation type||DIY or professional||DIY||DIY||DIY or professional||DIY or professional||DIY|
|Monitoring type||Self or professional||Professional||Professional||Self or professional||Professional||Self or professional|
|Cellular backup||Yes (with a plan)||Yes||Yes||Yes (with a plan)||Yes||Yes (with a plan)|
|Equipment cost||$229 and up||$150 and up||$326.96 (or $99 with online deals) and up||$179 and up||$199 and up||$199 and up|
|Contract term||Monthly||Monthly||Monthly to 36 months||Monthly||36 months||Monthly|
|Read Review||SimpliSafe Review||Cove Review||Frontpoint Review||abode Review||Brinks Home Security Review||Ring Alarm Security Kit Review|
Detailed List of the Best Home Security for Renters
1. SimpliSafe – Best Home Security for Renters
SimpliSafe is a pioneer in DIY alarm systems for renters. In fact, apartment robberies in their area are what inspired the SimpliSafe founders to create the system in 2006, a time when most security companies didn’t meet the needs of most renters. SimpliSafe’s solution is simple: you can buy an inexpensive system, set it up yourself, and choose between monitored and unmonitored home security.
- DIY, wireless installation
- Affordable professional monitoring
- Optional self-monitoring
- No contracts
- 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 an annual contract and still have a functioning system with remote app control and alerts. Optional professional monitoring is cheaper than what Frontpoint provides too, topping out at $24.99 per month. The three paid SimpliSafe plans are:
Features Limited Pro Monitoring 24/7 Professional Monitoring Camera only Monthly fee $14.99 $24.99 $4.99 for one camera, $9.99 for five cameras Monitoring type Professional Professional Self-monitoring Cellular backup Yes Yes No Access to the SimpliSafe app Yes Yes Yes Camera recording No Yes (up to 10 cameras) Yes Video verification No Yes No Home automation No Yes No
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, a wireless indoor camera, 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 $183 with an instant online discount, and often a free SimpliCam is included. 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.
2. Cove – Most Affordable Home Security for Renters
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.
- No contracts
- DIY installation
- Affordable monitoring starting at $14.99 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 $14.99 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 $24.99 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.
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.
- 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.
The cheapest Frontpoint security bundle costs just $326.96 to start, which you can pay upfront or have financed via Bread. That price is a little bit steep, but you can often get the same system for as low as $99 thanks to Frontpoint’s online discounts and Frontpoint Black Friday deals. From there you can build a customized system with add-ons made by Frontpoint and other companies; the Smart Hub is compatible with Z-Wave devices.
Frontpoint Security Equipment
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.
4. abode – Best No Contract System
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 small living space, Abode’s iota tower ($229) might fit your security needs. It’s self-sufficient and also lets you add up to 160 smart devices. 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.
5. Brinks – 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.
Plans Home Complete Home Complete with Video Monthly price $29 $39 Professional monitoring Yes Yes Smartphone remote control Yes Yes Live Voice Assist Yes Yes Cloud video storage No Yes Home automation Basic Full
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
- Motion sensors
- Glass break sensors
- Smoke and CO detectors
- Panic alarms
If any of these sensors detect something amiss, the control panel will alert you and Brinks’ monitoring center.
6. Ring Alarm – 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 $10 a month
- Heavy roster of security cameras and video doorbells
- Integrations with Alexa, Google Assistant, and other third parties
- Limited equipment option
- History of privacy lapses with security camera
- Connectivity issues during our initial setup
You can operate most parts of a Ring security system without a paid plan. Professional monitoring, however, costs $10 month-to-month after a 30-day free trial. That’s the most affordable monitoring plan we’ve encountered.
The $10 a month Ring Protect Plus plan also lets you connect with neighbors about security alerts and security camera and video doorbell videos for 60 days. If you don’t mind monitoring your security system yourself, you can also go for the $3 a month Ring Protect Basic. This plan gives 60 days of cloud storage to one Ring camera or video doorbell, although you can stack up your subscriptions to cover multiple cameras.
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.
Can you install a security system in a rental?
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.
What are the best security systems for renters?
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:
- SimpliSafe: Best security system for renters overall
- Cove: Most affordable security system for renters
- Frontpoint: Best DIY security system for renters
- abode: Best no-contract security system for renters
- Brinks: Best security system for apartment rentals
- Ring Alarm: Best security system for renters for Alexa
How much do security systems for renters cost?
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.
Can you install security cameras in a rented property?
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.
Qolsys. (2021). IQ PANEL 2.