Here is a question we get asked quite frequently as rental agents:
“Is this neighborhood safe?”
This is a difficult question to answer for a variety of reasons mostly because the word is relative. We could say living life is “unsafe” since safe is defined as “free from risk.” Walking across a street, driving on the freeway, riding a bike–everything we do in life is a risk!
But, it’s undoubtedly a question you will be asking a lot in your search for a future rental and you are going to want to figure this one out.
Fortunately, there are many resources out there to help:
1. People you know
First, we recommend you speak to friends you know, or friends of friends, who live in the area already. Find out from them what they think of the neighborhood and its safety.
2. Research crime stats online
There are quite a few websites online that list crime stats by address and zip code. One of the best is the Los Angeles Police Department Crime Maps. LAPD’s on-line crime maps uses Google hybrid maps to outline your neighborhood and then pinpoints where each crime took place within the past 7 days. Unfortunately, at the time this blog is published, their website is under construction. It may be up by the time you’re reading this post, so try to check it out:.
While the LAPD Crime Maps website is down, you can check out this national website: Spot Crime
Enter in your future property address or neighborhood zip code and Spot Crime will show you specific locations of crimes committed within the last 7 days in a radius around your location.
Other websites worth noting:
3. Ask the landlord
When you are previewing a property, ask the Landlord if there has been any crime in the neighborhood. Don’t just ask, “Is this neighborhood safe?” Ask specific questions. Find out if he is aware of any break-ins, assaults, or other crimes on the property. Is there a Neighborhood Watch program in place?
4. Talk to the neighbors
Ask the landlord if you can speak to other tenants in the building. Ask them some of the following questions: have they enjoyed living on the property? Have they had any break-ins? Do they know of any crime in the neighborhood? Do they feel safe?
5. Have a look around you
When you are previewing vacancies, don’t just look at the property. Check out the street and neighboring buildings and homes. Are there bars on the windows? Are there signs of pride of ownership? Is there broken glass on the street where a car was parked? Is there a lot of tagging? Are there video cameras on neighbors’ houses?
6. Check out the California Megan’s Law website
Since 2004, the public has been able to view information on registered sex offenders. To find out who is living in your future neighborhood, click here.