Do Apartments Bring Crime?


An apartment is a residential self-contained housing unit inside a large residential building, townhouse, or house. In most cases, apartments are rented and not owned. Apartments have varying housing tenure, ranging from large scale public housing, to tenants with a private landlord, to owner occupancy, also known as a condominium. Most apartments are in large buildings. However, sometimes large older houses are divided into apartments. 

Apartment buildings, especially high-rise apartments, are capable of providing homes to hundreds of people on a limited portion of land. This may have some downsides. 

People want to feel safe. Having a lot of people living close to each other does the opposite of that. Most of the people living in apartment buildings are complete strangers, and the trust levels among neighbors are low. For this reason, apartments usually register higher police call volumes than regular single-family homes.    

Do low-income apartments bring crime?

Building low-income and subsidized housing in affluent neighborhoods to break up the poverty concentration in an area may seem like a good idea but many people are strongly against it. When it comes to urban development politics, almost everyone is against bringing low-income housing to their neighborhood. For this reason, most low-income housing projects are done in low-income neighborhoods that are already disenfranchised. This creates an even more burden on an already troubled area. For this reason, low-income housing projects may also end up being rejected in poor neighborhoods and this creates a housing problem for the poorest of residents. 

This, however, should not be the case. The fear of establishing low-income housing projects in poor neighborhoods is misplaced. Most people will immediately assume that the project will bring more burden and difficulties in an already affected area. On the contrary, building low-income housing in poor neighborhoods may reduce the crime rates in the area and cause the property values to rise. 

The results, however, could be different when low-income apartments are built in affluent neighborhoods. These apartments may affect the behavior of homebuyers in affluent neighborhoods. Low-income housing does not increase crime in the area. However, home owners in the area may move away either due to class or racial prejudice. This may cause the property values in the area to fall, which is a bad thing. 

For this reason, it is easier to build low-income housing in a poor neighborhood than in an affluent neighborhood. Establishing Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developments in low-income areas serves as an effective neighborhood development strategy. Adding LIHTC developments in an affluent area where the cost of housing is already expensive will most likely crowd out the market rate developments. 

On the other hand, in poorer neighborhoods, very few people are looking to invest in market-rate developments. LIHTC units are the best solution for landlords and tenants in these areas. They also lead to a higher local population, the establishment of businesses such as retail, and a general sense of increased activity. Establishment of a local community in the area may help lower the crime rates and likely raise the property values. 

Are apartments easier targets than single family houses? 

The most common threat to our homes is a burglary. Burglary is a non-confrontational crime that usually happens when you are not home. Does property crime vary depending on the type of home you live in? Are apartment burglaries different compared to single-family home burglaries?

The likelihood of your apartment getting robbed versus a single-family home burglary varies depending on location and the local community. Even though apartment and house burglaries may be similar, the techniques used to prevent the crimes may differ. Being aware of these techniques can help keep your home and community safe by reducing the risk of burglary. 

Generally, single-family houses make more attractive targets for a burglary than an apartment. They are usually larger in size and are a promise of great rewards to burglars. Also, they have several entry points, making them more difficult to burglar-proof. Single-family houses are more accessible and provide more opportunities to burglars. 

However, larger houses that offer more privacy are usually not common targets. When a burglar targets an apartment or home, they usually select the target based on a number of factors such as accessibility, visibility, occupancy, convenience, familiarity, and vulnerability. 

Burglars usually avoid targeting occupied residences. When it comes to apartments, they usually target the ones on the ground or first floor because they are much easier to access. Getting to know your neighbors helps reduce the risk of burglary both in homes and in apartments. Staying away from your residence for too long puts your home or apartment at risk of burglary. Studies suggest that most burglars usually ring the door bells to confirm if you are home. This explains why most single-family homes are the preferred targets for most burglars. 

The method of entry used by burglars varies depending on whether you live in an apartment or in a home. In a single-family home, it is possible for a burglar to kick down the door without anyone hearing you or the neighbors may completely ignore the noise assuming it is something else. 

Doing this in an apartment building, however, may prove to be more difficult since neighbors are close together. In addition, most apartments usually have only one entry door and the occupants of the building generally have to walk past each other’s doors before getting to their own apartments. For this reason, the most preferred method used by burglars to break into an apartment is by using a key. This is why landlords are required to change the locks of each unit once the previous occupants move out. 

Sliding doors are also very common in apartment buildings. Most people usually forget to lock these doors, providing burglars with an easy way of getting into your apartment. They may also try to get in through the windows depending on the design of the apartment. As such, it is important to ensure that all the windows and doors are securely locked before leaving your apartment. 

You should also be very careful of who you give your apartment’s spare keys to. They should only be given to the trusted few such as family members and roommates. You should also consider installing smart locks and home security systems in your apartment to detect any intrusions.  

Property ownership 

The ownership of property and how the property is managed can be associated with crime. An apartment complex with poor management and security deficiencies has a high probability of experiencing more criminal activities. It is usually assumed that home ownership helps create conditions that are less favorable to crime. 

There are a number of reasons why home owners might less likely commit crime as well as be victimized. Generally, home owners are less likely to move compared to tenants mainly due to financial actors such as the transaction costs that are incurred when buying and selling. Homeowners are also less mobile and tend to be more aware of changes in their neighborhoods compared to tenants. They also have established social networks and are more likely to be involved in neighborhood associations and get familiar with the neighbors.  

Homeowners are also sensitive to decrease in property values. Any changes which may reduce the quality of life such as crime may reduce the property values. Homeowners, therefore, tend to be more vested in preserving the value of their properties by improving the neighborhood conditions.  They also have a greater likelihood of investing in property maintenance and security. 

Rental properties and public properties, on the other hand, are associated with more crime. This reflects on factors which are usually correlated with public housing such as the socioeconomic disadvantage of tenants and their social isolation. Most tenants in an apartment complex tend to keep to themselves, barely interacting with their neighbors. This makes it easy for apartments to be broken into since the neighbors don’t know each other. 

Rental property management

Rental property management is very important when it comes to preventing and controlling crime in apartments. A rental property that is properly managed conducts thorough tenant selection and manages tenant behavior. Areas that have weak rental property management are usually selected by criminals such as drug dealers. 

Rental properties that have weak management are characterized by low levels of property maintenance, the landlord is either absent or conducts less frequent visits, and there are fewer efforts to screen the tenants. When the management of a property is upgraded, crime in the area is generally reduced through improved security, applicant screening, and eviction of unsuitable tenants.  

Law enforcement

For areas with several different political jurisdictions, differences in legal penalties and the quality of law enforcement could potentially be responsible for the differences in the local crime rates. This can be seen in the availability of different capabilities of law enforcement surveillance in an area. The amount of police presence and their response times may vary. Areas, where the response is slow, will most likely have a higher crime rate than in areas with a higher police presence and a faster response time.   

Also, an area with severe legal penalties is likely to have less crime. When you combine this with a high police presence in an area, the crime rate in the area will reduce due to the high probability of arrests. Improved police surveillance can reduce crime but areas that have higher crime rates have a need to invest more in law enforcement.

Increase in police presence and proper law enforcement will result in criminal displacement. This, in turn, will reduce the association of rental housing with crime.  Sometimes, the problem is not with the presence of an apartment building but with the law enforcement in the area. Increasing surveillance in the area will ensure that the tenants in the apartment building and the local community at large are safe from possible criminal activity. 

Tenant screening

Most landlords and property managers usually screen their tenants to determine whether or not they are eligible to stay in their apartments. This is a very important process as it helps to eliminate the risks of having a criminal as a tenant. Before moving to most apartments, tenants are required to sign a lease addendum containing clauses which may give your landlord the authority to evict you in case of any criminal activity. 

In the case of low-income apartments such as the ones under the LIHTC program, you’ll be required to indicate your income which your landlord may be required to verify and rectify each year. Also, your landlord may have the authority to terminate your lease if they learn that you knowingly provided them with false or incomplete information about your income. 

You’ll also have to submit a credit report. If you have a poor credit report, your application may be rejected. Also, if you have a poor rental history with your previous landlords, you may be ineligible. Most landlords are also vigilant when it comes to criminal records. If you have a criminal record, a history of drug abuse, alcohol, and violence, you may be rejected as a qualifying tenant. 

These regulations and restrictions help eliminate crime in apartment buildings.   

Conclusion

One cannot definitely say that apartments bring crime to an area. There are several factors involved, hence no one can declare, based on legitimate data, that apartments, especially low-income apartments will bring crime to your neighborhood. If your apartment complex is built in an area that is dealing with a high crime rate, the crime may still persist. If a low-income apartment building is built in an area with a low crime rate, the crime rate may not change. Putting low-income housing in a neighborhood does not necessarily mean that the apartments will bring bad, horrible, no-good people to the neighborhood. With the proper management of apartments and proper screening of tenants, apartments could even be safer than single-family houses.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author, and she enjoys traveling, reading, and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC.

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