5 Property Management Tips to Help Make Apartments Safe and Secure
Those annual events are good reminders that crime is a serious subject, and apartment complexes are certainly not immune from criminal activity. In recent years, law enforcement agencies from Orlando, Fla., to Farmers Branch, Tex., have implemented crime prevention programs – and even mandates – aimed at multihousing property owners.
Last year, the City of Farmers Branch enacted its Mandatory Crime Reduction Program (MCRP) for apartment complexes that have high incidents of criminal activities. Apartment complexes that exceed a specific statistical crime-risk threshold, which is calculated every six months by the police department, are enrolled in MCRP.
Once in MCRP, the complex owner/management team is issued a laundry list of mandates aimed at all tenants – including adding crime free lease agreement addendums, running criminal history checks, conducting credit checks, hosting quarterly crime watch meetings and meeting other crime reduction requirements designed to address the complex’s specific crime problems, as specified by crime prevention officers.
Also, the City of Orlando certified seven apartment complexes in the city “crime-free” as part of program to clean up crime early last year. Residents who get arrested for violent crimes are evicted under the program, which began in 2010. To be deemed “crime-free,” an apartment complex must meet a number of security measures, including enhanced lighting, cameras and safe entryways.
If you’re a property manager and fear that you’re letting security at your apartment complex lapse among your staff and residents, then it’s time to establish crime prevention awareness in your community. Many local law enforcement sites, as well as the National Crime Prevention Council, offer tips on apartment complex security. These tips can be made available so that your leasing staff can post in common areas for residents or to provide as ongoing reminders.
In the meantime, here are five common property management tips geared for apartment complex owners to, as that dog says, help take a bite out of crime:
Ensure that apartment complex employees are easily identifiable. This is especially important with maintenance staff. Often, burglars who use tools to enter residences are mistaken as maintenance staff by residents and visitors. Require maintenance workers to carry a picture ID and wear the same uniforms.
Review Security Systems
Security devices can include cameras, lighting, locks on common area entrances and other security equipment. Make sure cameras are in working order and that they cover all common areas. Gates leading to common areas should be locked. Also, replace burned out bulbs in parking and common areas.
Screening Residents and Employees
Many property owners are using background checks to screen not only residents but also employees for criminal activity. This practice is particularly common in the Section 8 communities, per the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act (QHWRA). Screening can not only identify potential problems, but can be viewed as a benefit to potential residents considering moving into your apartment complex.
Partner With Police
Getting to know your local police personnel is a great resource. Most departments offer crime watch programs that help get your residents actively involved in identifying criminal activity. But working with police to know more about what is going on in the surrounding area is just as important. Monitoring crime reported by local news media also is beneficial.
Help residents by reminding them of security tips, such as locking doors and windows. Also encourage them to report suspicious activity. Local police can offer tips or even make presentations to groups. In some cases, liability insurance rates could be lowered if property owners establish a comprehensive crime prevention program.
How proactive are you in reminding your residents of safety tips, or taking the necessary steps to make their homes a safer place? Do you already have a program in place? Please share your thoughts.