So this week we have discussed all about how to handle yourself and your business when it comes to crime, tenants, and security. Now it’s time to look at the specific things you can do to beef up security at your property. I believe in having security as one of your top priorities when it comes to managing property, as the best way to combat crime is to just make it not possible. Obviously you can’t guarantee no crime, but you can certainly build the safest possible environment.
The first and obvious place to look at your security is the systems of access to your building, and the control you ahve over them. Naturally, I am talking about keys. One common practice with keys is to have a master key (or multiple) that work on all locks. The concept behind this is ease of use – if a contractor needs to get into someone’s apartment who isn’t there, and you aren’t available, it can be tempting to provide them with these keys. To me, it should be obvious that this is sacrificing a layer of security in the building. Instead use multiple keys such that should you lose one, you don’t have to remake every person’s key in the building.
In the case of the above, where maintenance needs to be done, have someone (or yourself) present whom you trust – ideally a member of your staff if you have one. If you are managing alone, then it would be better to schedule those things when you can be present, or make sure you are present when maintenance needs to happen. There are a variety of options here, but the point is that you keep your access privately controlled and diverse.
If you control a larger building, it can be prudent to introduce an electronic key-card system for the external access points. These electronic key cards can be tied to specific people – such that you can remotely control individuals entry to the building. In this case, it can be acceptable to provide a key card to an outside contractor – you would simply only activate it on the times and days in which they are being contracted to work.
The problem with these systems is of course the cost. You would have to evaluate the cost of that card system against the convenience and extra security it can provide.
Going outside of access control, one place you can add security is simply through lighting. Proper outdoor lighting is a fantastic way to deter crime and provide a safe feeling area for your tenants. Lighting of course is only effective if it is properly located, and sufficiently bright (but not so bright at night that it becomes a nuisance). If you have a larger property or complex, consider looking around your property – especially at night – for areas that are poorly lit, and may be traveled regularly. Come at it like you are a tenant there, and think – would I feel safe walking around here at night? This is also an excellent time to query your tenants as to their opinions of the general feeling of safety in the grounds – you may find someone who says “well it would be great if this area were lit at night…”
Another element you may consider is hiring a security firm. This was mentioned on Tuesday. If you own or manage a small property, it isn’t likely that you would need to contract out security. However if you manage a larger apartment building or complex, especially if it is in a busy area or if your building interacts with retail stores for example, it may be prudent to contract with security. There are essentially two types that you may look at – consistent on-site security (where someone is standing/sitting in a booth or office 24/7), or periodic drive by security. As an example, in a previous apartment I lived (which was located above retail shops), the managers had security regularly drive through and patrol the grounds shared by residents and retail.
Tomorrow we will take a look at other safety concerns for your property…