Putting security bars/doors on a rental in a rougher area?

11 Replies

For those of you who landlord in borderline areas or worse, what's your rule of thumb on when to put security metal over your windows and doors? Is it a case of "do it if everyone else does it"? 

If I wanted to be extra protective, would it severely impact rents/desirability to go against the neighborhood and put them on even if no one else does? I will be doing a lot of section 8 and want to make my rentals as bulletproof as possible.

If you're investing in a warzone, I think you definitely want to beef up security.  However, bars over the windows might make it difficult or impossible for someone to get out if there is a fire.

Make sure that you have deadbolts on both the front and back door.


Check with your insurance first, they can be very counter intuitive about those. Your would think they would give a discount if you did that, but some companies will not even allow them. Personal story.

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Hello Gary:  Security Bars will not stop a bullet.  Bullets go right through the siding.  We had mostly brick homes, but we did have some houses that just had siding and we spent many times digging out bullets just over the babies crib, in the wall inches from the TV set, and more.  And we had Security Bars.

It is not a law for landlords to have  to put up Security Bars. And it does cost the landlord a few bucks, especially  Security Doors.  Bars on the window is bad enough, but Security Bar Doors cost some money.

I had a lot of single moms (albeit boyfriends living with them), but theft was the problem.  Break Ins.)  But even with Bars on the Windows, thieves always would find  a way in, like in the old fashion Milk shutes.....They would slip a little kid in the milk shuts and they would unlock the doors, so we had to seal shute the milk shuts.  Then they would break the picture windows and get in.  But there is only so much one can do to protect their tenants, and their investment, their homes.  And you know what.  It always ended up that it was of friend of theirs or a family member, that 9 times out 10 was the one who broke in and stole their stuff. 

When we first began to invest in Detroit,  the city wasn't so bad, but all the shootings became really bad towards the end. 

I'd bite the bullet (pun intended) and put them on, if I were you, but check with your insurance people, because some insurance policies won't allow you to have security bars, and those that do, say only on some windows and one door.   And sometimes if you are in a bad area, it's hard to get insurance.  And if you can get it, it will cost you an arm and a leg.  We were paying $10,000 a year to insure our properties in Detroit.  

Just be careful....

Nancy Neville

We installed an alarm system in one of our Trenton rentals after the house was vacant and the pipes were stolen. We paid for the alarm system for the first 6 months of the new tenant's occupancy, and they decided to continue to pay for it. There are alarm company stickers on every window and door. I would try that first, as you can get an insurance discount.

@Gary Clisele the insurance carriers will not want to see bars on the windows.  Doors, no problem.  Their concern is that a person will not be able undo the bars to get out during a fire.  I have not run into 1 that is ok with the bars on the window.

I have also seen cages and bars over air conditioners down here.

bullet holes over cribs?  I would be scared to even go to that neighborhood to rehab.

@Account Closed  Sorry, I should have been more clear.  I was referring to the bars that open from the inside.  Some of the underwriters views have been that if there is a fire, with all of the smoke and panic in a situation like that, this would still be a liability they didn't want to take on. 

@Gary Clisele you definitely want your tenants for feel safe, but before you put those bars on, I'd like to know that :

1. You've seriously improved the night time lighting. Motion detectors and dawn-to-dust lighting as well.

2. You're talking with neighbors and have open lines of communication. This will make your rental safer than installing those bars and cost a ton less.

3. You've implemented a rigorous ground keeping program. "Landscape Security" is a real thing. Start a ripple that can improve your block - keep your front and your neighbor's fronts on all side of you litter free. Pay a helper to make this happen. Again, it's cheaper than bars and yields  higher returns.

Best to you. You're a CEO in an emerging market. Be big and bold. Don't hide.

Before installing a window security bar it’s always better to ensure if these bars suits your home windows. Window bars do not suit every window of your home as it changes the appearance of the window. It’s also important that you choose the right kind of window bars for your windows. Window security bars would be a good choice for the most vulnerable windows to prevent breakage and forced entry. The bars would also send a clear signal to a burglar that you have taken measures to protect your home and discourage even to attempt a burglary. Another alternative is usage of quality window film is also preferable. Give it a try!!