Whether you are a single unit owner or multiple unit operator, the safety of your residents should be a primary concern. The safety of its residents and the perception of safety are important factors in a resident’s decision to sign another lease. Property managers experience high turnover and lose substantial profits by failing to address security concerns.

The perception of safety is not just a main ingredient in a resident retention program; it is also a critical factor in attracting new residents. Along with price, location, amenities, and looks, 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 thoroughly screen residents and employees not only by checking their credit but also by doing a criminal background check. Property managers must be especially vigilant not to allow sex offenders, thieves, drug dealers, and criminals with a violent history to enter their properties. It is prudent to show that management takes due diligence in evaluating both residents and employees. The news is rife with instances where residents and properties suffered as a result of hostile actions by uninvestigated residents and employees. Property management and landlords are exposed to lawsuits by allowing dangerous criminals to enter their properties. Imagine the horror and implications if a sex offender raped another resident because the property manager did not properly assess.

The following tips will show residents and prospects that management takes resident safety seriously. These are tips that should serve as the basis for an overall safety plan that should be written and distributed to staff and residents. If implemented correctly, these tips will become a guide for future modifications and additions.

Awareness of the environment remains the best protection for the resident and property. Residents should be encouraged to meet and get to know their neighbors. Property managers should always promote the community through events or activities on the community website. It is recommended that they use the website to document a community policing program.

Staff should always display an identification card and door-to-door attorneys should be prohibited. Residents and staff should always be on the lookout for suspicious strangers and unusual activities. This includes unknown packages and unattended vehicles.

Parking areas, entrances, offices, hallways, clubhouses, stairways, laundry rooms, and other common areas should be well lit and locked. (Never allow entrances to be open) Burned out bulbs should be replaced immediately and mirrors should be installed at an angle. Always change locks when new residents move in and install deadbolts 1 1/2 inches or more. Install wide-angle sight glasses with a cover to prevent looking from the outside in. These doors must remain closed. Doors to the outside should be 1-3 / 4 “solid wood or metal and fit snugly into their frames, with no more than 1/8 inch of clearance between door and frame. Prevention decals are recommended of crimes in doors and windows.

· Install alarm systems.

Sliding glass doors and windows should be secured with commercial locks and anti-lift devices, as well as a wooden dowel to lock the door. Windows at ground level should be protected with bars that can be opened from the inside.

Trees and shrubs should be pruned to ground level, while obstacles and debris that may impede a clear view should be removed.

Residents should be discouraged from putting spare keys under the doormat, in the mailbox, or anywhere thieves might look.

Residents should be encouraged to put timers on lights, radios, and televisions when they are not at home to give the appearance that someone lives there.

· Never put full names in mailboxes or directories.

By following these tips and being more vigilant at all times, property managers can add one more detail to the mix that makes their property a desirable place to live and a place people can call “home.” Residents will stay longer, prospects will want to move there, and profits will increase. Newsletter

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