Being a property manager requires balancing many different elements all together. Safety is no different, and one critical important aspect of managing a safe property is communication with your tenants. In the end, everything you do is about your tenants – so their feeling safe and secure is just as important as being actually safe and secure.
First and foremost, when your tenants (and prospective tenants) do ask about any safety issues – be straightforward and direct. Don’t try to conceal any bad things from your tenants as this can lead to some serious problems for you. In addition, should they have further concerns (especially about specific criminal activities) you should refer them to the local law enforcement.
You obviously can’t share information that you don’t have (and you won’t always be aware of local crimes) but you should be aware of situations that happen in your own building/complex.
To give you an example, I will share a story from my own experience in a past apartment complex. To frame the story, this was a single building apartment complex of 6 stories with a couple hundred apartments in it. Below the building was a 3 story underground parking garage, with the lowest garage private and seemingly secure.
I had been keeping my bike locked up down on the bottom floor during my time there – and one day I went down to find my lock had been cut and my bike was gone. Naturally the lease had a clause that left the management without liability – but what I found out was that several bikes had been stolen before mine.
Here’s where the problem is: When those bikes were previously stolen, no notification was given to the current tenants about security issues in the garage (I would have moved my bike). They informed me after my bike was stolen – and then proceeded to keep my stolen bike situation quiet.
Fortunately for them, I determined the problem was actually that a publicly accessible stairwell lead down there and the door at the bottom had a security plate which was installed on the wrong side of the door (so the latch could be jimmied open with a stick off the ground easily).
Side note on this story: check all of your doors and make sure they can’t be easily broken into.
Ok the point that story is that many of those thefts could have been prevented if the management was open and shared the problems as they were happening to the current tenants – but that was not their policy, and multiple people fell victim because of it.
The overarching theme here (and in many of my articles) is that you should be open, honest, and upfront with your tenants and your prospective tenants. You may think that disclosing crime within your property is going to lower it’s value – but you would be fallacious in that thought. Crime is a terrible thing – but if it happens, it happens. You should instead work to educate the people you employ, and the people who live there – these are all important steps towards a safe and secure home.