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 five best home security systems for renters in 2020. 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.
Best Home Security Systems for Renters
- SimpliSafe – Best Home Security for Renters
- Frontpoint – Best DIY Install Security
- Abode – Best No Contract System
- Brinks – Best Home Security for Apartments
- Ring Alarm – Best Alexa Compatibility
SimpliSafe – Best Home Security for Renters
The leading low-cost option for renters’ home security without a contract
SimpliSafe is a pioneer in DIY alarm systems for renters. In fact, the company was inspired by Boston-area university students having trouble with apartment robberies. The year was 2006, and most security companies didn’t meet renters’ needs. SimpliSafe’s solution: You can buy an inexpensive system, set it up yourself, and choose between monitored and unmonitored home security. A system’s siren works without monthly payment, but the mobile app does not.
A SimpliSafe starter set costs around $200. That’s more than the minimum for a Frontpoint system (above), but with SimpliSafe you can avoid an annual contract and still have a functioning siren. Optional professional monitoring is cheaper than what Frontpoint provides too, topping out at $24.99 per month. The two SimpliSafe plans:
- $14.99/month: The cheapest SimpliSafe plan establishes a 24/7 connection to emergency dispatchers. It also lets you receive system alerts on your mobile device.
- $24.99/month: The premium SimpliSafe plan brings 24/7 pro monitoring, text alerts, remote control with the mobile app, and limited home automation with voice commands. By voice, you can arm a SimpliSafe system and control lights, thermostats, and door locks.
To help keep costs low, SimpliSafe manufactures the equipment they sell; they don’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 are drained. 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. 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 $196 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
Setup is extremely easy; 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:
- 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 in and is backed up with a battery. Equipped with a motion sensor and wireless chip, it sends alerts to your phone when motion is detected. Video clips are saved with cloud storage for 30 days. A privacy shutter is included.
- 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
- 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 – Best DIY Install Security
Easy DIY installation followed with long-term professional monitoring
Frontpoint DIY security systems are recommended for renters with yearly leases. With Frontpoint, you get also get a 12-month agreement (or longer), and the equipment is renter-friendly; you can even set up outdoor cameras without altering the property.
Monthly bills of about $35 to $50 pay for 24/7 professional monitoring. Prices go beyond $35/month for service with video surveillance and home automation.
The cheapest Frontpoint security bundle costs just $69 to start. 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.
As detailed below, each Frontpoint system is controlled with a Smart Hub. The hub is equipped with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, which help make Frontpoint a favorite for home security in the US and Canada.
Frontpoint Security Equipment
Whatever size your rental, a single Frontpoint Smart Hub can serve as the control center. It’s paired with a wireless keypad for arming/disarming, and you can order extra keypads for disarming at more than one entrance. You’ll connect other wireless sensors with help from the Alarm.com mobile app, and you can call Frontpoint for guidance if needed. Setup usually takes an hour or less.
The Smart Hub can alert Frontpoint emergency operators if a sensor is tripped, so there’s professional backup even if you can’t hear the alarm. The hub also has tamper detection: If someone tries to disable your security system, Frontpoint will automatically call the police.
Unlike the hubs from many competitors, Frontpoint’s Smart Hub can alternate between cellular and WiFi service. This helps ensure a constant connection to emergency dispatchers if needed. Also, the Frontpoint Smart Hub meets the home alarm industry’s highest standard for data encryption.
The cheapest Frontpoint starter kit ($69) includes:
- Smart Hub
- Three door/window motion sensors
- Two pet-friendly motion sensors
- Yard signs and decals
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
- Garage door sensor and controller
All Frontpoint equipment is under warranty, plus the systems are sold with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Abode – Best No Contract System
DIY home security systems with advanced technologies and optional pro monitoring
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.
The all-in-one Abode iota security system with built-in camera sells for $229. It’s an easy “plug and play” solution, plus it can wirelessly monitor up to 160 smart devices with Z-Wave or Zigbee technologies. For instance, it can connect with smart outlets to automate your lamps, coffee pot, and other plug-in appliances.
Abode’s other DIY security option is a system built around the Gateway. The Gateway hub is sold in kits with motion sensors and other equipment. 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, and the shortest term is three days. 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. 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
As mentioned above, the other option is to use Abode’s Gateway as a home security hub. The cheapest Gateway kit includes the hub, an entry sensor, a motion sensor, a key fob and a window sticker. It sells for $199 unmonitored, or for $299 with 12 months of pro monitoring.
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.
Brinks – Best Home Security for Apartments
DIY or pro installation followed by month-to-month or long-term professional monitoring
For generations, Brinks has been a home security leader. Today they’re known for high-quality wireless equipment, great customer service, and speedy emergency dispatching. Previously their customers needed long-term contracts, but now Brinks provides some of the best home security for apartments too. Home automation is easily included too. It can include help from Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.
Brinks’ new partnership with Nest Secure brings renter-friendly deals. A Brinks-Nest deal includes Nest portable equipment, no activation charge, and the option to choose Brinks month-to-month monitoring instead of a long-term contract.
The Nest Secure equipment package sells for about $11/month over 36-months or $399 in one payment. Its hub is the Nest Guard, which has a pet-friendly motion sensor, a siren, a panic button, a keypad, tamper detection, and other integrated features. The $399 bundle also includes two Nest Detects, which are all-purpose motion sensors; they work in doorways, windows, and full rooms. Also included are two Nest Tags that you can simply tap against Nest Guard to disable the system.
Without needing a paid monitoring plan, with Nest Secure you’ll also have access to a mobile app for system alerts and remote control. The Nest Guard can monitor smart plugs for enhanced security and to streamline your life. For instance, with Nest, you can program your apartment’s lights, remotely control your thermostat, and preheat your oven with a voice command. However, camera access requires a monthly payment or a long-term contract.
Professional monthly monitoring costs $29, or $39 if you include video surveillance; storage for 1000 clips is part of the top-tier plan.
The Brinks Alarm Center boasts a 30-second response time average, which leads the industry.
As shown on the Brinks website, shoppers can also choose Brinks security systems with touchscreen control panels in place of the Nest Guard. In any case, Brinks equipment has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Ring Alarm – Best Alexa Compatibility
DIY video surveillance and the best Amazon Alexa integration for renter security
Ring is a home security brand developed by Amazon. While many security brands can interact with Amazon’s Alexa, Ring has an insider advantage with coding. The most obvious perk is that the format for voice commands feels natural; with other companies, phrases are indirect and might seem awkward. Ring security makes it especially convenient to automate your rental property, and no hard wiring is needed.
You can operate most parts of a Ring security system without a paid plan. Accessing your cameras, however, costs $10 month-to-month after a 30-day free trial. A paid plan also lets you connect with neighbors about security alerts.
The cheapest Ring Alarm Security Kit is recommended for apartments up to 1000 square feet, and it 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 ($179) is a favorite add-on. You can install it indoors or outside with no need for hard wiring; it can be powered by mains electricity, a long-lasting battery, or solar power. Features included are motion detection, night vision, and two-way audio. Also available are weatherproof Ring cameras with floodlights and sirens.
Ring lets you remotely monitor and control its sensors, including the cameras, with a mobile app. The Ring app is free but video storage costs $10 month-to-month. With a 12-month agreement, the price drops to just $100/year.