Combating Crime On Your Property
Simply put, preventing crime on your property is necessary due to liability. Criminal acts can range in danger and severity, but even the most minor instances place you and your tenants in a compromising position. Here’s what you can do.
As a property manager, you are responsible to protect your site and its tenants from criminal acts that are performed by both tenants and guests of tenants. This should be a fairly obvious property safety concern. Crime can range from assault, arson, and burglary to those less dangerous (but still harmful), such as vandalism. Currently, one of the most common crimes property managers across the country run into is drug dealing. Not only are crimes like these a clear threat to your tenants’ safety, they can have other consequences:
- A drop in property value
- Lawsuits by the property’s neighbors, who may cite your property as a public nuisance that threatens safety
- Confiscation of the property by the government (in rare cases)
I think we all know, there is no good that can come out of having criminals present on your property.
Action steps to take in order to prevent and stop criminal acts on your property:
- Screen potential tenants carefully. See more on how to do so here.
- Never accept cash payments for rent.
- Be a busybody — keep on the lookout for suspicious characters and suspicious activity and let your staff know to do the same. For instance, an unusual amount of foot traffic entering and leaving a certain space should be investigated. Also, be sure to heed any strange odors or unusual equipment being delivered.
- Make sure your lease specifically states that there is a zero tolerance policy for any criminal activity on the property. Don’t assume that everybody knows and respects this rule. Put it in writing and make your tenants initial it after a specific review. Include a non-negotiable clause that allows you to evict any tenant who is dealing or making drugs on the property.
- Respond quickly to any complaints from other tenants regarding criminal activity. Don’t handle the complaint yourself — call the police.
- Start eviction proceedings on any tenant violating the terms of your lease when it comes to conducting criminal activity on your property.
- Be aware of all federal, state and local laws that apply to property security, including your right to install deadbolt locks, lighting, and security systems.
- Educate your tenants about how to look out for criminal activity, and make sure they are aware of what security precautions you are taking to protect them as well as what they can do to protect themselves.
- Don’t invite trouble, or make it easy for criminals to operate on your property. Be sure to keep hallways, stairs and entrances well lit, fix broken locks and windows, and immediately clear away any graffiti or vandalism.
- Install an emergency communications system for immediate response trouble, danger or life-threatening situations. More on that below.
Renting to tenants with a criminal record
The Federal Fair Housing Act considers denying a lease to any tenant with any type of criminal history to be discriminatory. Factors to consider in taking on a tenant with a criminal history include the type of offense and the length of time since the offense occurred.
Consider your staff and vendors.
While we’re on the subject of on-site crime, be sure to carefully choose your management staff and vendors, who often interact with tenants and have access to the property at all times. This would include careful background checks. Just like with tenants and guests, if a crime is committed onsite by a staff member or a vendor, the finger often will point back to you as the property manager.
Give your tenants peace of mind with an emergency communications system.
A key resource to have on your property is an emergency help phone. A system equipped with two-way voice communication may be the one factor that saves lives and trouble in the heat of the moment.
Kings III Communications systems, for instance, contains:
- A call button
- A light indicating the phone has been connected to an emergency operator
- Capability for hands-free use and ADA compliance.
- Call recording, which could help in court if litigation arises from the incident.
Why an emergency communications system beats a phone app or smartphone in the case of an emergency or escalating tension:
- Emergency communications systems let you contact authorities faster and more directly.
- No risk of bad reception or a dropped call.
- Professional medical help can be provided over the phone until medics arrive on the scene.
- Helps alleviate panic and, most importantly, save lives.
Be sure to advise your tenants as to where the emergency phones are located, perhaps by regularly announcing it in the property newsletter, social media and email correspondence, or in the lobby.
To learn more about how Kings III can help promote a focus on life safety at your properties, talk to one of our experts.
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