When you're living in an apartment or rental property, you don't have the luxury of installing a doggy door, painting your living room cobalt blue or even changing the locks without asking permission first.
Some apartments even restrict your dog breed, so if you have a furry friend that doesn't meet property requirements, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Even though you're limited in the types of modifications you can make to your home, there's still a way to make your home safer, more convenient and, well, homier. We zeroed in on the best smart home gadgets that come with low-risk installation but still offer a high reward. Because let's face it, you shouldn't have to own your home to make it smart.
Here are the seven best smart home devices for rental properties that you can add to your wish list. Just be sure to check with your landlord before buying and installing!
Smart doorbells pair with smartphones to offer live stream video, saved video and motion sensors all accessible from your phone. But most smart home devices require a little DIY installation and wiring, which, in some ways, makes them better-suited for homes. Although some smart doorbells fall in this camp, several options work for any humble abode.
There are smart doorbells available that don't make you drill a hole through your front door, such as the Vivint doorbell camera. Other smart doorbells can live over your door's peepholes. That way, you don't have to sacrifice your security deposit for safety.
If your apartment doesn't offer controlled access, it's worth looking into smart locks, for both convenience and safety. Many smart locks require you to drill holes or alter the deadbolt, but there are smart locks that don't require DIY installations, in which case, you'll need to get the go-ahead from your landlord first.
Smart locks allow you to keep tabs on who goes in and out of your home. Even better, they allow you to give access to friends, family or maintenance workers, without handing out a spare key. The August Smart Lock Pro + Connect, for instance, even offers voice activation, as well as geofencing.
Smart plugs require zero installation, don't discriminate between rental homes and owned homes, and most important of all, they're cheap. Smart plugs work by plugging into existing outlets to control the appliances and devices in your home.
If you want to turn off the lamp or hair straightener or unplug a toaster or coffee maker, you can do it all remotely. It'll help you save on your next electric bill, and it'll give you peace of mind knowing you didn't leave anything on when you left the house. Plus, some smart plugs, like Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini, has voice activation.
Best of all, smart plugs don't require any modifications or additional hardware. You simply plug it into an outlet as you would with a regular socket, and next thing you know, your outlet's a whole lot smarter.
Whether you pay a landlord each month or are paying off a mortgage, every home should legally have a smoke alarm. But standard smoke alarm systems are helpful only for people who are in the home at the time it goes off.
Smart smoke alarms, on the other hand, notify you no matter where you are — at your office, a few blocks down the road or on the other side of the world. So, even if you're miles away from your apartment or rental home, smart smoke detectors allow you to protect your home (and the people in it) from afar.
If you're set on buying a smart smoke alarm, check out the Google Nest smoke detector. It checks its sensors and batteries 400 times a day, so you don't have to worry about checking it once a month.
Smart lights let you turn off lights from your smartphone, which is convenient if you're already in bed and forgot to kill the light or if you want to leave a light on while you're away from home. The issue? To use smart lights, you'd have to replace every light bulb in your house, which can get tricky if a light fixture in your apartment uses a specific bulb or if you're afraid to mess with your high rise's chandelier (not a bad problem to have, though, if you ask us).
Instead, a smart light switch lets you control your existing light bulbs without having to swap them out. Compatible with roughly 80 percent of all bulbs, the smart switch works with cloud-based technology like the Alexa, plus your smartphone. And just like smart bulbs, you can customize a schedule for your lights if you want to turn them on or off at specific times.
And if you have lots of lights, the Lutron Caséta Wireless Smart Lighting Dimmer Switch Starter Kit can accommodate up to 50 devices.
Smart home speakers are the epitome of total convenience. Want to listen to music while you're busy cooking? Need to settle a family feud on who won the 2002 Super Bowl? With voice-activated, automated smart speakers, you don't have to Google it. You can ask your question or state your request out loud.
Whether you're cooking in the kitchen and don't have free hands or if you want to know what the weather will be like that day, smart speakers offer affordable carte blanche to get what you want. Plus, smart speakers like the Amazon Echo come in various colors and don't look like a giant piece of metal, so you can put it anywhere without worrying it'll ruin your home's aesthetic.
For those of us that aren't lucky enough to have a garden apartment, we know how tough it is to go without fresh produce (especially if you're like us and live for fresh basil). With a smart garden, you don't have to sacrifice your gardening abilities just because you don't have a yard of your own. Even if you have limited outdoor space, a smart garden lets you grow whatever herbs your heart desires all from your windowsill.
With a refillable water reservoir and smart soil, you can grow everything from sage to strawberries. Plus, smart gardens like Click and Grow's The Smart Garden 3 are portable and lightweight, so you can move it anywhere in your home.
Between security deposits and property restrictions (such as lighting a candle), it can be difficult to feel like your apartment is your home. But thanks to smart home devices, you can trick out even the smallest college flats and the oldest city apartments.