I recently moved into a 3rd floor apartment in a relatively upscale, low-crime neighborhood in Boston. The only problem is that there is a fire escape that leads right up to my window. As a result, I am keeping the window locked at all times, but I am still disturbed by the fact that a person could walk up three flights of stairs, starting from the back alley, and have access to my window.

If I understand correctly, fire escapes usually dangle off at the very bottom so that someone can drop off, but no one can climb onto it. Either that, or access to the fire escape is restricted by a locked gate or something.

I recently emailed the landlord, asking if I could install one of those gratings on my window that open from the side (allowing me to use the fire escape if necessary) but prevents someone from say breaking my window from the outside), but he said that the fire escape complies with all regulations and they can't do anything about it. Am I out of luck? Should I just continue with just a locked window? I know I'm being a little paranoid, but this issues is literally kinda keeping me up at night.

  • "complies with all regulations" == I'm not going to spend any money fixing something I do legally have to. Landlords can also say what modifications can and cannot be made to their properties by the tenant. Your best option is to keep it locked.
    – diceless
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 19:40
  • This doesn't seem right. It might comply with one regulation while breaking another. I would call your city hall and talk to a building inspector.
    – DMoore
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 20:42
  • If you don't already have it, get renters insurance. Fact is, regardless of where you are or what you do, a sufficiently determined thief can always get in. Easy access is a downside, low-crime neighborhood is an upside. Just make it so you have less to worry about. You could also go with the portable alarm answer, but don't skip the insurance; just add the alarm (it might even save you a few bucks on the insurance.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 0:17
  • (this is OP): to be honest I don't actually care about the thief stealing my stuff, I am a graduate student and all of my valuables are in my office at school. What actually worries me is if some crazy person decides to break my window and harm me or something. I recently just ordered a $15 portable alarm, and I also contacted my neighborhood building inspector. Let's see how this goes.
    – xdavidliu
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 12:29
  • Renter's insurance is surprisingly cheap (especially if you bundle it with car insurance) and probably a good idea even if you don't think you own nice stuff. In addition to covering the obvious things like burglary, they also typically include bike theft coverage, car break-ins, and liability insurance.
    – Hank
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 20:53

2 Answers 2


You can do any of 5 things:

1) Install a window opening alarm half way up the window (So they have to open the window a lot before they can reach in and shut it off).

Window Alarm

2) Get a glass break alarm (Goes well with #1). If someone shatters your window, this bad boy will kick in and wake the dead!

Glass Break Alarm

3) Assuming your window opens up vertically, get a stick that would go from the bottom to the top across, and rest on the top half of the window. This will prevent the window from opening without removing the stick (You can tape it or make hooks to hold it in place).

Window Security Stick

4) You can get a fake security camera and mount it nearby inside or outside, and get "security system" stickers for your windows

5) You can actually get a security system

  • 1
    (This is OP): I just got option #2 a few days ago, and it works great. Thanks!
    – xdavidliu
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 0:04

Since making modifications is out of the question, you might want to consider a portable alarm system. These are designed for apartments and most have glass break sensors you can add to the window.

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