Security should be as important for landlords as it is to their tenants. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of the current rental market, but as the number of people renting increases around the country, so will the number of cases in which landlords are asked by a tenant to be accountable for a break-in or other property-related crime. There are a number of steps landlords can take to make sure their properties are safe and that tenants understand their role in protecting themselves and the property.
First, do the basics. Make sure the home has solid, working locks on all doors. Put in high-quality deadbolts on all doors that require one. Also, make sure there is ample exterior lighting, especially near places of ingress and egress. If there’s a garage, ensure it’s operating correctly. Many of today’s automatic doors can be opened via smartphone apps or the signals from nearby openers. This can invite crime, so be aware of what’s offered by manufacturers and keep the literature on hand.
Understand the crime stats around your units. If something picks up, notify the tenants. Create a track record of your concern for their safety. It sounds strange that your concern for others needs to be documented, but, we live in strange times.
Make your tenants aware of things they may not consider a risk, like adjacent vacant homes. Also, share with them how to access local police report. If you own in a place that has onsite security, provide tenants with clear directions on how to reach the guards. Also, remind residents not advertise their absences or leave valuable belongings on the front porch or in cars parked in front of the property.
Much of this may sound like common sense, but it’s helpful for a landlord to share as much as possible with the people who are signing their leases. Careful documentation of security issues protects you, protects your property and most importantly, the people to who you rent.