A pool view of an apartment complex with the apartment building in the background
Security patrol in apartments with swimming pools is a must

How property managers are working with security companies to improve safety on their properties

Tenants and owners of apartment buildings often enjoy amenities that make their lives easier, but apartment communities are susceptible to problems. Issues such as noisy neighbors, unsupervised youth, and loitering are common. Due to their transient nature, apartments and their tenants are also often targeted for crimes. This article explores some of the common issues in apartment and condominium communities. It also offers security tips for property managers, property owners, and security professionals to improve safety for their tenants, employees, and guests.

Apartment and condominium communities bring hundreds of people together in one place. The communities are often diverse with varying age groups, genders, and ethnicities. They are also subject to transient visitors, delivery drivers, and vendors who work on or service the property. Inevitably these variables create security challenges for all who live and work therein.

Crimes and safety issues that challenge property managers in apartment communities frequently involve property crimes such as stolen cars, property theft, and property destruction. More serious crimes include robbery, rape, and assaults. Most of these crimes occur in parking lots, stairwells, laundry rooms, and secluded areas of the property.  

Security and safety issues that are left unaddressed can put residents at odds with property managers. They can also create liabilities for the property management company and the ownership. Especially if the safety issues have been reported more than once. In many states, property managers must provide a safe living environment for their tenants. This law is known as the Duty to Provide.” The law allows tenants to file suit against property managers and owners if the tenant suffers an injury or loss due to the landlord’s negligence in keeping common and private areas safe. 

2 Bed 2 Bath, Underground Parking, Central Air | The Boulders Apartments
Parking Garages are often problem areas for security in apartments

Hiring a reputable security company can help mitigate liabilities and protect the people that live, work on and visit apartment communities. However, property managers often avoid hiring security because of the cost involved. Good security does cost, but the benefits of keeping the people that live in your communities safe, outweigh the cost. So the question lies in – What should property managers be looking for when vetting security companies, and what should the security company do to protect the property and the people there? 

Hiring and Vetting Security Companies 

Security is hired often as a knee-jerk response to some security issue. When security is contracted in that manner, it does not allow for the proper vetting of security companies, and more than likely, the security company that gets hired is usually the company that will cost the least. As a rule of thumb, pricing should never be the sole factor in hiring a security company; to do so is disastrous. The old axiom reigns supreme – “You get what you pay for.” 

If your security company will be effective, it will be based on the relationship the property manager builds with the security officers and managers. Those relationships start on day one and begin with proper vetting and solicitation. We also recommend that property managers:

  • Identify the security issues they want to resolve
  • Develop a scope of work for the security company
  • Send the solicitation (RFP, IFB) out to at least three separate security companies
  • Review the security proposals, company websites, years of service, and references
  • Review the companies uniforms and security vehicles, and
  • Meet with the security company’s representative before making a decision

In exigent circumstances, this process may not be feasible. If this is the case, we recommend reviewing the security company’s website and references, meeting with the company’s representatives, and performing a walk-through of the apartment property to understand the security challenges. Property managers should get a good feel for the company by doing so. We would also recommend executing a short-term contract (three to six months) or a security contract with a thirty-day “right to terminate” clause, just in case things don’t work out.

Improving problem areas on apartment property

Historically, when problems arise on apartment property they can be narrowed down to the following four areas:

  • Parking Garages – Often experience car thefts and break-ins, ocassional robberies and assualts. Parking garages also experience loitering, and incidents of drug use
  • Playground and sports courts – Apartment communities with playgrounds often serve as after hour gathering spots for teenagers and adults
  • Laundry and storage rooms – Robberies, assualts, theft of property and breaking into machines are common in laundry and storage room areas
  • Stairwells – Tenants often leave doors open; permiting access from the outside. Stairwells also are subject to frequent loitering and smoking
  • Yellow police tape surrounds cars as police investigate fatal stabbing
  • The basement area of an apartment community with gated storage areas for tenants.
  • Apartment building stairwell

Improving Security in Problem Areas

Four factors that contribute to safety in parking areas, play areas, laundry, and storage areas in apartment communities:

  • Seclusion from other parts of the property
  • Quality of lighting
  • Upkeeof landscaping
  • Security Patrols
  • Conspicuous Signage

Loitering and crime can occur in these areas of apartment communities because they are usually out of sight from the general tenant population. To improve safety in these areas, we recommend that the areas be well lit. If the lighting is poor and landscaping is unkempt, perpetrators will hide out unnoticed. Trees and shrubbery should be cut to allow a clear line of sight across the property and prevent hiding spaces for would-be perpetrators. Conspicuous signage, i.e., no loitering, video surveillance, etc., can shape people’s behavior on the property by informing them how to act and the consequences for failing to act accordingly. Finally, having a reputable security company to patrol the property and enforce rules and regulations creates a safer environment and improves the quality of life for tenants.

Conclusion

Apartment communities are a wonderful place to live and work. However, their transient nature allows for conflicts amongst people and some criminal activity. Property managers have the “Duty to Provide” safe living arrangements for their tenants and employees. Failing to do so could result in liability suits against the property managers and owners. The most vulnerable areas in apartment communities are parking areas, play areas, laundry areas, storage areas, and stairwells. Hiring a reputable security company and building a relationship with its security managers and security officers is the best way to address issues and ensure safety in apartment communities. Ensuring secluded areas are well lit, and security signage is conspicuously posted enhances safety. Finally, regular security patrol of all areas of the property to identify security breaches and enforce property rules improve safety and sense of security for all that live and work on the property.

For more information on how you can improve safety and security on a property you own or manage feel free to give us a call 301-423-2636 or email us at info@trustinmvp.com

%d bloggers like this: