by Mary Girsch-Bock –
Under the best of circumstances, being a property managercan be a stressful career choice. Throw a distressed property in a high-crime area into your portfolio, and that stress level can increase tremendously. While it won’t be easy, turning a crime-ridden property into a safe haven for grateful tenants and a money maker for your portfolio can be done. Here are some suggestions to begin the transformation:
- Put the criminals on notice. This means making it clear that lease violations and criminal activity will not be tolerated. Be prepared to follow up violation notices with evictions, when and if necessary.
- Patrol the buildings and parking lot on a consistent basis. Remove any graffiti or other defacements promptly, and establish a relationship with an area towing company to patrol the parking lots and remove abandoned or unauthorized vehicles immediately.
- Consider assigning parking spaces to your tenants and providing them with parking stickers. This will make it easier to spot vehicles that do not belong in the lot.
- Upgrade property access options. Consider installing security gates and make sure that they are in good working condition. Using visitor check-in options or security guard houses can also help to decrease crime rates; as long as they are manned by qualified personnel.
- Inspect all property lighting. Replace burnt out lighting and install lighting in previously unlit areas.
- Post No Loitering signs in conspicuous areas and make sure that you have adequate personnel to enforce them.
- Do an inventory of all units. In particular, check doors, windows, and sliding glass doors for any security breaches. Upgrade all door locks to include a deadbolt, replace broken or cracked windows, and make sure that sliding glass doors are securely on their track and not able to be breached.
- Install an alarm system and instruct tenants in how and when to use it.
- Enlist the help of your tenants. Community residents are one of your biggest assets. The majority of tenants in any community are law-abiding citizens that want a safe environment for themselves and their families. Organizing and empowering tenant patrols that can monitor and report suspicious activity can reduce their frustration while giving criminals notice that they are being watched.
- Organize regular meetings with local law enforcement to help build trust.
While it will not be easy, in time, you’ll find your problem property has become a safe, crime free home for your tenants and perfect example of what hard work and community involvement can accomplish.