By now you have it on your mind that safety is a well involved process of establishing a crime free atmosphere and communicating that with your tenants. Whatever you do when it comes to managing a property, it always all comes down to the tenants, their safety, and their happiness. If you find yourself with different choices, always side with the tenant, take the extra step to see them fully satisfied, and if necessary take a hit in profits in the short term to see a long term positive result.
The last thing I want to talk about in regards to property security and safety is a couple environmental safety issues. The biggest thing here that you need to keep in mind is Fire safety. Fire is incredibly dangerous and destructive (not to mention the dangers of smoke and fumes that come with it) – but aside from stating the obvious, it’s important to not underestimate the possibilities. The more people you have living in a building, the more sources for problems there can be – that isn’t to say that people aren’t going to live safely, but you have to take the correct precautions.
It almost goes without saying, but you need a smart established evacuation route – if you haven’t done so, you should contact your local fire department and have them help you establish the best strategy for this. Even if you have a route established, if you didn’t do so through the fire department it is best recommended that you consult with them anyways.
You should have regular fire inspections of your property. This is even more important for larger apartment buildings and complexes, where inspection of individual’s units will be necessary (usually lumped in with a yearly “inspection” that you can include in the lease). Any issues that are noted from the inspection should be dealt with immediately (you will be required to address these issues and have them approved).
Some areas require rental owners to provide fire extinguishers and to properly inspect/service them. Even if you are not required to do this, I think it’s a darn good idea to do so anyways – it may be an extra expense, but providing individual emergency extinguishers in each unit can help prevent a much larger disaster, and save lives. Regardless of your situation there, you also need to evaluate your liability (ie. If you provide an extinguisher and it fails).
Smoke detectors are also critically important. On monday of this week, I shared an article about the different types of smoke detectors, how they work, and how some states actually ban a specific type. You should verify what type of smoke detector you should be using. In all of these cases, check with your local fire department for the best answers.
The other major environmental issue that most people don’t think about is Carbon Monoxide. This is an incredibly dangerous poison gas, simply because it is colorless and odorless. If your apartments have appliances that use natural gas, oil, or wood burning stoves and fireplaces, then you may need to consider having carbon monoxide detectors within the units that contain these appliances.
This can especially be a concern if your property is in a colder climate (as people are more likely to run indoor heaters, have fires in fireplaces, or other such things) – I’m sure you have heard of stories of people using portable grills to burn fires indoors during especially cold winters – warn tenants against this as it can be disastrous (on many levels).
Lastly, if your property has an underground parking garage, you may be required by law to install carbon monoxide detectors. As always, with anything here – check with your local officials.
Remember, tenant’s safety comes before all else – especially including the profitability of your business.