Living in a duplex sets up a very unique dynamic with your neighbors. A duplex offers almost as much privacy and seclusion as an individual home, with some of the features of an apartment building. It can be a great option for those who are ready to leave busy apartment buildings behind, but aren’t quite prepared to rent or buy a house. But this unique dynamic also comes with a unique set of security issues.
1. Package delivery confusion
It’s often hard for delivery personnel to recognize a duplex when they see one. They’re nearly the size of a house and often are just one house that’s been split in half. So UPS or FedEx employees might not always look for a unit number, but rather just drop a package off at the first front door they see. If someone accidentally drops your package in front of your duplex neighbor’s door, he or she can easily take it. The package may just sit there for days, unsupervised, if your neighbor is traveling. Be sure to put specific notes on all delivery instructions so your package finds your door.
2. Strangers in your yard
Many duplexes have a yard that the residents share. This is a nice perk, but it also means you don’t have complete say over who enters your yard. Your neighbors can have strangers in the backyard with windows that look directly into your home. You may want to put blinds over your windows that face the yard and consider setting up surveillance cameras in the yard, in case any of your neighbor’s guests vandalize or damage the property.
3. Close quarters and little privacy
You share a driveway, yard, floor/ceiling and walls. You’re bound to overhear one another’s conversations sometimes. If you’re simply in the driveway, leaving for work and you yell one last piece of information to your spouse, your duplex neighbors will hear it. They’ll likely hear many of your phone calls and conversations you take out in the yard. Unless you know your duplex neighbors very well and trust them, you have to be careful about having private conversations on your own property.
4. Twice the fire hazards
If you live in an individual, freestanding house, then you only really need to worry about how your habits pose fire hazards. But if you share a duplex with other people, anything they do that can cause a fire puts your safety at risk, too. Make sure your fire and smoke detectors are working properly and consider having a conversation with your neighbors about habits they have that could cause fires, like unsafe barbecue behavior or cigarette smoking by dry bush.
5. Your neighbor’s valuables can attract burglars
If your neighbor loves to online shop, has an expensive car, or regularly has pricey artwork delivered to the duplex, burglars may have noticed. But burglars often don’t realize a duplex is a duplex. They might just identify a building as a target and break in any way they can. That way could be through your side of the duplex. Keep motion sensor alarms and lights active when you’re away or asleep, especially if your neighbor recently made a large purchase.
6. Your neighbor may sell things online
If your duplex neighbor likes to sell things on Craigslist, it’s quite possible that complete strangers are on your property all of the time, picking up their purchases. Those strangers might get a glimpse into your windows or overhear your private conversations. If you feel comfortable enough with your neighbor, ask them to sell their goods off the property to protect both your safety.
7. Outdoor lighting rules and preferences
You don’t have total control over the lighting around your property. Have a conversation with your duplex neighbor about outdoor lighting. Set up ground rules about keeping yard and driveway lights on at night, so your property is always protected.
If you do plan on moving into a duplex, properly vet the other residents in the building. Ideally, you should share a duplex with people you trust and with whom you’re comfortable discussing safety protocol for the property.