Whether you are a single unit landlord or a multiunit operator, the safety of your residents should be a primary concern. The safety of your residents and the perception of safety are major factors in a resident’s decision to sign another lease. Property managers suffer high turnover and lose substantial profits by not attending to safety concerns.
The perception of safety is not only a main ingredient in a resident retention program; it is also a critical factor for bringing in new residents. Along with price, location, amenities and appearance, the perception of safety weighs heavily in a prospect’s decision. Families with children and female residents are especially sensitive to these factors.
The first step in implementing a safety plan is to screen residents and employees thoroughly by not only checking their credit but also doing a criminal background check. Property managers need to be especially vigilant to not allow sex offenders, thieves, drug dealers and criminals with violent histories into their properties. It is wise to demonstrate that management takes due diligence in screening both residents and employees. The news is littered with instances where residents and properties suffered as a result of hostile actions by unscreened residents and employees. Property management and landowners leave themselves open to lawsuits by allowing dangerous criminals into their property. Imagine the horror and implications if a sex offender violated another resident because the property manager did not screen properly.
The following tips will demonstrate to residents and prospects that management is serious about resident safety. These are tips that should serve as the basis for a general safety plan that should be written down and distributed to staff and residents. If implemented correctly, these tips will become a guide for future modifications and additions.
· Awareness of surroundings continues to be the best protection for resident and property. Residents should be encouraged to meet and know their neighbors. Property managers should always be promoting community through events or community website activity. It is recommended that they use the website to document a community watch program.
· The staff should be always display an ID card and door-to-door solicitors should be banned. Residents and staff should always be on the look out for suspicious strangers and unusual activity. This includes unknown packages and unattended vehicles.
· Parking areas, entrances, offices, hallways, clubhouses, stairways, laundry rooms and other common areas must be well lit and locked. (Never allow entrances to be propped open) Burned out light bulbs should be changed immediately and angled mirrors installed. · Always change the locks when new residents move in and install 1 1/2in+ deadbolts. Install wide-angle peepholes with a cover to prevent outside to inside viewing. These doors must remain locked. Doors to the outside should be metal or solid 1-3/4″hardwood and fit their frames tightly, with no more than 1/8 inch space between the door and frame. It is recommended to place crime prevention sticker on doors and windows.
· Install alarm systems.
· Sliding glass doors and windows must be secured with commercial locks and anti-lift devices as well as a wooden dowel to jam the door. Ground level windows must be protected with bars that can be opened from the inside.
· Trees and bushes must be trimmed at the ground level while obstacles and debris, which might impede a clear view, must be removed
· Residents must be discouraged from putting spare keys under the doormat, in the mailbox or anywhere thieves may look.
· Residents must be encouraged to put timers on lights, radios and TVs when not at home to give the appearance of someone living there.
· Never put full names on mailboxes or directories.