Building codes are in effect, which are intended to ensure that any rental property (including rental houses, boarding houses, and apartments) provides a minimum standard of safety and security. For more information on precisely what is required, contact your local city code enforcement agency.
In Norman, OK, contact the City of Norman Code Enforcement Office at 321-1600. Furnish your address and any other information the Code Enforcement Officer needs, and they will explain what the minimums are for the property where you intend to live.
When selecting a rental property as a home, consider contacting the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction to ask what the crime history is for that neighborhood. Most agencies tabulate crime by geographic area (called districts, zones, sectors, sections, or something similar), and should be able to provide this data as public information.
Ask the agent/owner the same question, and compare the results. If the agent/owner doesn't know, or provides radically different information, ask yourself why?
Start your assessment of your rental premises from the street:
- Is the address prominently displayed?
- Are plant materials neatly trimmed in a manner that facilitates a clear view of the area?
- Is the property is apparent good repair and condition, with no graffiti, broken windows, or other signs of neglect?
- Is the area neat and clean?
Don't forget to also check during hours of darkness! Consider whether the neighborhood in general and the following specific areas are well-lighted; the parking, the route you will take from the parking to your entrance, the entryway, and any public areas (courtyards, pool area, etc).
Assess the physical security of the unit:
- Is there an alarm system? If so, does it work? To what is it connected (i.e. who monitors the signals - if the alarm is local, meaning it sounds only on the premises, it really doesn't offer a lot of security)
- Is there a deadbolt lock on every outside door?
- Are the outside doors solid-core or metal and do they open inward? (If they open outward, the hinges are outside, and are vulnerable; look for pinned or "non-removable-pin" hinges on such doors)
- Is there a door viewer? If not, will the agent/owner add one for you?
- What does the agent or owner say about how many keys are out? (If they don't know, that's a bad sign)
- Are they willing to re-key for you? If they are, and they insist on keeping a key, who has access to their key and under what circumstances can it be used?
- Are there screens in place on every operable window?
- Are there locks on all the windows, and do they work?
- Is the glass intact on all windows?
- How easily are the windows opened?
- If there is an attic above the unit, is there any access from inside the unit? If not, where IS the access, and is it secured?
- If there is a patio door, is there a security device in place? If not, will the agent/owner add one for you?
Bear in mind that you must obtain permission from the agent/owner to make any permanent change in their premises, and may need to obtain permission for temporary changes if they change the appearance or leave permanent marks, holes, or other effects on the premises.