When you rent a home, you may be restricted as to what changes you can make to the unit. Maybe your living situation is temporary and you don’t want to be locked in to a monitoring contract and a system you can’t take with you. Whatever the situation, as a renter, you have a unique set of circumstances that may make finding the right home security system tricky. Lucky for you, we have our top five picks for home security systems that suit a renter’s needs. We evaluated each company on the ease of installing the system yourself, the ability to take the security system with you when you move, contract flexibility, and affordability.
For a full look at our top home security picks, check out our top 10 home security systems of 2018. Otherwise, read on to find out which companies made the renters’ shortlist.
|View plans||View Plans||View Plans||View on Best Buy|
|Professional monitoring||Optional; $14.99/mo.||Starting at $30.99/mo.||Starting at $24.99/mo.|
|Contract length options||Month-to-month||12, 24, or 36 months||36 months or month-to-month|
|Smartphone app||With professional monitoring only|
Monitored vs. unmonitored security systems
We always recommend getting a monitored security system because it means an agent can notify authorities of a break-in when you’re away, asleep, or otherwise not looking at your phone. With an unmonitored system, it’s up to you to catch the notification, determine whether it’s a break-in, and call the police yourself.
All our top recommendations have affordable professional monitoring options that you can easily transfer to a new residence as a renter. But if you want to monitor your system on your own, we’ve reviewed our top selections below.
- 100% wireless equipment for easy moving
- No drilling or hardwiring required
- Professional monitoring option
- No contract required
- Customizable equipment options
- Three-year warranty
- No home automation options
- No smartphone control without professional monitoring
Our top security system for renters is SimpliSafe, which we love for its flexibility and mobility. SimpliSafe is 100% wireless, so you don’t have worry about drilling holes or connecting wires in your rental home, and you can easily take the system with you when you move. Plus, it installs quickly and you can add or remove sensors as your space needs change.
SimpliSafe offers optional professional monitoring starting at $14.99 per month. You’re not required to sign a contract, which means you can cancel at any time or switch back to professional monitoring temporarily (like if you’re going out of town). SimpliSafe has a mobile app, but it’s not available if you self-monitor your system.
SimpliSafe has a good equipment selection to choose from, though it has no home automation integration options except the Nest Thermostat. And while SimpliSafe offers several equipment packages, you can also choose only the products you need, including environment sensors or an indoor camera. This level of flexibility is rare among security system competitors, and it makes SimpliSafe our top choice for anyone who wants to be able to install, move, or change their setup quickly and easily.
Read more in our full SimpliSafe review.
#2 Link Interactive
- 12-month contract option
- Inexpensive professional monitoring
- 100% wireless and cellular equipment
- Fully customizable equipment options
- Z-Wave technology for home automation
- No professional installation option
- No self-monitoring option
Link Interactive is our second choice for renters and ranks third on our best home security systems rankings.
Although Link Interactive does not have the same no-contract flexibility of SimpliSafe, it does offer a 12-month contract, which is significantly shorter than many other monitored companies, so it’s a great option for those who don’t plan to stay long in one place. You can also customize each package so you pay only for the equipment that you actually need. Additionally, all the devices are 100% wireless, making them easy to move.
Link Interactive does not offer professional installation, which eliminates the installation fee but might be overwhelming for some. However, the monthly monitoring cost is lower than many competitors’ costs, making the Link Interactive system less expensive overall.
If you want a system with home automation, Link is a great system for that. The system is compatible with Z-Wave home automation devices, many of which are available through the Link Interactive website. Overall, Link Interactive is an excellent option for renters who don’t plan to stay put and who want full control over the equipment they pay for.
Check out our full Link Interactive review for more.
#3 Nest Secure
- High-quality, reliable equipment
- Month-to-month monitoring option
- Wireless design for easy installation and portability
- Home automation integration
- Unique features for and easy-to-use system
- Higher monthly fee without a contract
- Required subscription for video feed recording
One of the newest additions to the family of Nest products is the Nest Secure home alarm system. While we don’t have a lot of customer feedback on the system yet, Nest ranks seventh on our overall list of top home security systems.
Nest products have long been top of the line in terms of performance and quality. Nest Secure is no exception, with plenty of unique features designed to make the system easy to use and live with. Professional monitoring is offered through MONI, and you have a choice between a three-year-contract and a flexible month-to-month plan. If you add a Nest camera to your system (either indoor or outdoor), you will also need a Nest Aware subscription to get video feed recording.
Nest Secure isn’t just for security, it’s also one of our top picks for home automation systems, so if you want to put together a smart home, Nest is a great place to start. Additionally, Nest integrates with quite a few other home automation platforms, including Google Home and IFTTT. Overall, we always come away impressed with Nest products, and the Nest Secure alarm system is a high-quality, reliable setup no matter where you live.
Read more in our full Nest Secure review.
- No contracts
- No equipment packages—you pay only for what you need
- 100% wireless equipment and cellular monitoring
- Low cost for professional monitoring
- Integration with several home automation platforms
- Limited equipment options
- No Z-Wave integration
- Limited 1-year equipment warranty
Scout does not have any set equipment packages, and other than the Scout Hub (which is required for each system), you choose all your own equipment without paying for anything unnecessary—so you can spend less and get only what works for your space.
Everything Scout makes is wireless, so both installation and relocating the system are simple. Adding to Scout’s flexibility is that it doesn’t require contracts, so you can start and stop monitoring services whenever you need to. On top of that, the monthly monitoring fees are low, especially compared to some of the big names in home security.
Scout is compatible with several home automation platforms, including Amazon Alexa, Nest, and Philips Hue lights, and it has an IFTTT channel. However, it does not integrate with Z-Wave products, so keep that in mind if you have a smart home or plan to build one. Scout offers a limited number and range of devices, so you may not find everything you’re looking for. But for a fully customizable home security system with professional monitoring, Scout is one of your best options.
Read our full Scout review to see more.
- Pay-as-you-go option with no contract
- Both DIY and professional monitoring
- High-quality equipment
- Quick and easy installation
- Z-Wave support
- Home automation integration
- Variable monthly rates with the pay-as-you-go option
- Mobile access limited to higher-cost tiers
- High up-front equipment costs
Although it’s a relatively new security company, Armorax gives customers choice and flexibility. Armorax offers both DIY monitoring and professional monitoring with three tiers of service. One drawback to Armorax’s DIY option is that it doesn’t include mobile access at every level, so self-monitoring through the app costs more than the basic tier.
As far as contracts go, you have the option of paying for monitoring on a month-by-month basis without signing an extended contract—a great option for temporary housing. If you’re comfortable going the contract route, choose between a one-, two-, or three-year contract and receive a discount on equipment. Alternatively, you have to cover the full cost of equipment up front with the pay-as-you-go plan. One potential downside of the no-contract option is that you are not locked into a rate, so your monthly fee may go up as prices change.
Armorax has top-of-the-line, 100% cellular equipment that installs quickly and easily, and you have some flexibility in choosing which equipment to get. It supports Z-Wave devices and can integrate with home automation devices like smart locks, thermostats, and doorbell cameras. While there are drawbacks, Armorax is an attractive, flexible option for renters.
Full more in our Armorax review.
Honorable mention: Frontpoint
- Excellent customer service
- 100% wireless equipment
- High-quality equipment
- Mobile access
- Home automation integration
- Transparent pricing and policies
- Standard three-year contract
- No professional installation option
- Activation fee
We can’t complete a list of top home security companies without mentioning our overall top home security pick, Frontpoint. Although it doesn’t have as much flexibility as some of the options on this list in regard to contracts and equipment, it is 100% wireless and very easy to install.
Frontpoint uses high-quality Alarm.com equipment, which integrates with other home automation devices, and its customer service is unbeatable.
Frontpoint is also transparent about pricing, which we love, but be aware that because it is a traditional home security company, it comes with activation fees and three-year contracts. We love what Frontpoint offers enough that we recommend checking it out even if you won’t be in your current location for the full length of the monitoring contract.
Read our full Frontpoint review.
Other options: When professional monitoring isn’t for you
We know that your home security options may be limited while renting, but we have recommendations for everything you might need. If you can’t afford a full security system, consider getting at least a security camera for your home. Another great, low-cost option is a doorbell camera for security at the main entrance to your home. And if you want to explore all your options, be sure to check out our home security package finder.
While we always recommend using a professional monitoring service, we know that it isn’t always an option. If you’re set on using a self-monitored system, here are a few to consider.
Canary is an all-in-one home security device that you monitor and control from your smartphone. This one device acts as a siren, motion detector, camera, video recorder (with up to 12 hours of stored footage), and even an air quality monitor. It does have to be plugged into an outlet to work but requires no wiring beyond that.
You can use a single Canary device or pair it with up to four other Canary products, including an outdoor camera, to create a more extensive DIY home security system. Because it is all DIY, there are no contracts but you have the option of paying for upgraded storage plans for the video feed.
Because Canary doesn’t offer any sensors or a backup battery, it’s not our first choice for home security, but the high quality of the video feed makes the Canary a great way to keep an eye on your home when you’re not there.
Read our full Canary review.
iSmartAlarm is a great option for renters because there are no monthly fees and no contracts, everything is 100% wireless, and the equipment is easy to install and take with you. However, monitoring is up to you as well. You can purchase the equipment (hub, sensors, cameras, etc.) piece-by-piece or in equipment packages.
One perk with the iSmartAlarm system is the iCameraKEEP camera, with night vision and the ability to pan and tilt the angle from the app. However, it doesn’t store the video feed, so you can’t review it later. Overall, iSmartAlarm has some great features and is a more complete DIY security system than some other options.
Read more in our iSmartAlarm review.
Iris by Lowe’s walks the line between home security and home automation. It is relatively inexpensive, and you purchase only the equipment you want, which is great for keeping costs down. While there is a free access plan, most of the features you’d want, such as access for multiple people and a 14-day activity log, come with the paid plan.
The Iris hub is compatible with both Z-Wave and Zigbee technology, so if you have home automation devices that use both, you’ll be covered. Overall, your options are basic and don’t provide comprehensive security, though paying the monthly fee to upgrade your plan will help.
Check out or Iris review for more.
You can take it with you
Although a home security system may feel like a permanent feature, there are many systems that you can take with you when you move. Several companies also offer flexibility in monitoring, monthly costs, and equipment packages. Don’t let renting stop you from getting the protection you want for your home.
Do you rent your home? What are your thoughts about installing a security system? Share your comments with us below.