While it is common practice to drive around a neighborhood before deciding to buy or rent a house, most people are too rushed into making a decision to do a complete vetting of the area. One easy public records request that prospective homeowners and tenants can do to protect themselves is to contact the local police station and request a log for all 911 calls to the specific residence or apartment complex. 911 call logs provide information for each reported incident, typically including the date and time of the call, the nature of the emergency, whether it resulted in an arrest or other resolution, and how long it took for the police or other first responders to resolve.
Often times a police department can provide the property log for a specific property or an entire neighborhood in a matter of minutes if requested in person at a police station; however, a written request may be necessary in some locations. For an example of a 911 call log, click below.
For more information on using public records searches to help with learning about a potential house or neighborhood, see our previous entry on Choosing a Neighborhood.