Many of us don’t think about safety when looking at a place to rent, but it’s an important issue to consider. Some things to look for are:
Is the address well-marked and lighted?
Is the building neat and clean in appearance and well-maintained?
Are trees and shrubs trimmed to prevent hiding places?
Is the outdoor lighting—front, back, and parking area—adequate? What about inside the building?
Are the entry doors solid core wood or metal? Do they have deadbolt locks and eye viewers?
Do easily accessible windows/sliding glass doors have secondary locking devices, such as charlie bars, pin locks, or dowels?
Do the locks and latches work properly including on the windows?
Does at least one window in every bedroom open for escape in case of fire?
Is the laundry room locked and lighted at all times?
For more detailed information on fire safety including a home inspection checklist click on the WWU’s Environmental Health and Safety site:
The way the property management company or property owner conducts business can be another indication of a rental’s level of safety. It is just as important for you to screen your future property manager as it is for them to screen you. The following criteria can help to steer you towards a property manager that will be attentive to and proactive about your safety needs:
Do they seem professional and ask for a completed application?
Do they provide you with a written rental agreement?
Do they screen all applicants for criminal convictions? If they do not screen you, they may not screen others.
Is there an on-site resident manager?
Do they change locks after each resident moves out?
Do they participate in the Bellingham Crime Free Rental Property Program? Check out the list of current participants at:
If you have any doubts to the legality of how your property is maintained you can check out the International Property Maintenance Codes.
Click here to review what each property is required to do to maintain a safe and livable dwelling.