7 Ways Property Managers Can Safely Use Community Rooms and Clubhouses
Indoor and outdoor community gathering areas are considered a key amenity for residents, especially during a holiday any time of the year. Often used for resident parties and celebrations, the areas help strengthen communities and bring residents closer together through a night of food, fun and celebration.
It goes without saying that residents who reserve space at multifamily properties to host a gathering have an obligation to act responsibly. Likewise, it is an apartment manager’s obligation to provide a safe venue that minimizes the risk of personal injury and damage to property.
“Everyone involved should take a sensible approach to make sure the event is safe for everyone,” says Ed Wolff, president of LeasingDesk Insurance. “It starts with the property’s commitment to provide a safe, healthy place for people to gather.”
The National Safety Council, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), Health and Safety Executive, and other sources offer several safety tips that, if applied in apartment communities, can help provide a safe venue for resident holiday functions or events any time of the year. At LeasingDesk, they’ve kept tabs on what matters most to property management clients and compiled the following:
1. Sign a contract/rental agreement
To protect both parties, the property and responsible party should have a contract or agreement for the space that includes, among other items, the length of time for use, fee schedule, clear statement of rules for use of the facility, and a checklist for cleanup and lockup before the keys are returned. Consider collecting a rental deposit and clearly communicate the associated penalty fees for return of the facility in unacceptable conditions. The agreement should protect the property management company from any liability.
2. Provide proof of insurance coverage
Beth Schacherer of American Modern Insurance says apartments should have adequate insurance coverage, but also make sure the lessee is protected. “Make sure your renters have an up to date renter’s policy to ensure they are covered for any liability or personal damage. Consider requiring that proof of insurance as part of your rental agreement”, she said.
If the lessee does not have renter’s insurance, it’s a perfect opportunity to encourage coverage or even suggest that existing coverage be increased to the maximum amount to cover damage caused during the party or event.
3. Right-size the venue for the event
An overcrowded room poses a danger to guests and gets the attention of the local fire marshal. Work closely with the hosts to determine how many folks the venue can handle safely, and discuss the room’s layout. Consider placing food and beverage tables within easy reach of the other, and avoid using decorations or furniture that will crowd the room or cause a fall.
4. Safely move around the facility
Check paths, steps, and any ramps to and from gathering areas for stability and maintenance to prevent slips and trips. If weather is uncooperative, use salt or sand on icy patches and matting to minimize water building up on walkways as guests come and go. Keep hallways clear of clutter, and check flooring and carpeted areas for uneven, slick, or worn surfaces. Also, rooms, stairwells and corridors should have sufficient lighting.
5. Assess fire risk and post emergency evacuation plans
Before booking a party, complete a fire risk assessment and post emergency evacuation plans. Your local fire department can help determine what inside and outside the event area may pose a fire risk, especially with increased resident traffic.
Inspect grills and check proper functionality of appliances before each event. Don’t forget to test alarms and smoke detectors and have a fire extinguisher nearby.
6. Allow only safe decorations
Lights make great festive decorations for apartment leasing offices and clubhouses, getting residents and staff in the celebratory spirit. If your property chooses to have standing decorations in common spaces, exercise safety to ensure that they don’t go up in flames.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends a number of safety tips when stringing lights indoors or outdoors. Use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory like UL.
7. Encourage safe food and beverage consumption
A little cheer at parties is tradition for many, and safe consumption of alcohol is imperative. According to MADD, someone is killed in a drunk driving crash every 53 minutes on average.
Encourage hosts to provide plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks, including snacks high in protein and carbohydrates that delay the absorption of alcohol. Hosts should avoid serving too many salty foods so people don’t get thirsty and drink more.
Only serve alcohol from one area within your party, away from the party entrance. Also, encourage using designated drivers or a car service for guests who don’t live on property.
“Community rooms and clubhouses provide an important amenity for residents,” Wolff says. “A prudent approach toward their use helps everyone have a safe experience, further increasing the value that the apartment community provides.”