Apartment Communities

Courtesy Officer vs. Security Guard

Owning, managing, and living in rental housing can be a challenging experience. Apartment owners have certain legal duties to provide reasonably safe rental housing. Apartment residents rely on property owners and managers to a large degree to make the premises reasonably safe. An apartment unit should be the sanctuary for you and your family…but is it? Is your family really safe once they get inside your apartment and lock your door?

Rental housing owners have asked many times, “Why should I invest money for security on my property? It’s very expensive and besides, I’m a taxpayer, the police are supposed to provide this protection for me.”

The truth is that providing adequate security makes good business sense. A relatively crime-free property is good for business. In some markets there is fierce competition among property owners to keep occupancy rates high while still attracting that good resident. Good residents tend to abide by the law, pay the rent on time, sign long leases, make few demands on management, and maintain their apartments in better condition. All of these attributes generate greater net-operating-income for the property owner.

Good residents have options about where to live and are making judgments about personal safety before signing a lease. More than ever, landlords must make a greater effort to provide a reasonably safe living environment to attract and retain residents. Research shows that new residents are looking for housing that is conveniently located, clean, affordable, and safe. A property that satisfies these criteria will sign up more rental prospects, receive more renewals and referrals from current residents, have less turnover, fewer maintenance problems, and less management headaches.

Experienced property managers agree that a property with a truly integrated security plan will retain a higher percentage of good residents. Your best residents will move out of a property where crime and disturbances are tolerated by management. On high-crime properties, I always find a higher percentage of marginal residents living with constant fear of crime and contribute to the downward cycle of property deterioration. No one wants to live in such a hostile environment!