As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of…well, the point is, you should be trying to prevent crime on your property before it begins. Criminal activity on site can result in headaches, legal action, and decreased property values. So before you have a problem, take care of the following:
Hook up with local law enforcement
Check out the Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program; it will connect you with local law enforcement, and involves in-depth training to ensure that you know exactly how to minimize your risk. Also, as a manager, getting this training makes you more attractive to both property owners and also prospective tenants.
Maximize your security
Obviously, all your security systems should be efficient and up-to-date, from good locks to burglar alarms. Consider installing electronic systems that require entry codes for the main door and garage, if you have one, and don’t forget to make sure windows and sliding doors have effective locks. If you run a larger property, strongly consider hiring private security. It may cost more, but it increases the property’s value.
Don’t take just anyone off the street
Unfortunately, tenants themselves can pose a serious security risk (especially when it comes to drug production and distribution). Mitigate this risk by thoroughly screening every prospective tenant. Run background checks—and listen to your gut. Each lease should include a clause that allows for immediate eviction if a resident is found to be engaging in illegal activity; you can get more details from your lawyer. Also, consider instituting a “no cash payments” policy to ensure you’re not being used to launder money.
Keep your eyes peeled
Even if you’re super careful, crime can happen. You should know what’s going on in the property you manage. Talk to residents, and make it clear they can come to you with complaints or concerns. If you suspect something’s going on, or become aware of it, do NOT turn a blind eye: you could be held partially liable if you knowingly allow criminal activity to take place on your property.
How have you dealt with crime on your rental properties? Tell us here or on Facebook!