Tips for Landlords on Crime Prevention in Rental Properties

How to prevent crime on rental property

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Landlords in most states have some degree of legal responsibility to protect their tenants from crime. The best way that landlords can avoid liability for losses from crime is to prevent criminal acts in the first place. These tips will help you do just that, and most don’t cost a lot of money. And keep in mind, whatever you spend on effective crime-prevention measures will pale in comparison to the costs (such as increased insurance premiums or high tenant turnover) that could result from crime on the premises.

  • Meet or exceed requirements for safety devices, such as deadbolt locks, interior and exterior lighting, and window locks imposed by state and local housing law.
  • Provide and maintain adequate security measures based on an analysis of the vulnerability of your property and neighborhood. In some cases, this may mean sturdy front and apartment door locks, good interior and exterior lighting, and neat and compact landscaping that doesn’t obscure entryways. Depending on the circumstances and your property, you may want to install window bars or a security system. If your tenants will pay more rent if you make the building safer, do so.
  • Tighten up management practices to make your tenants and property safer—for example, practice strict key control in your rental property.
  • Train your manager and employees (if any) on how to avoid dangerous situations and correct worrisome ones.
  • Inspect the premises regularly to spot security problems, and ask tenants for their suggestions. Get advice from experts as well, such as local police departments.
  • Quickly respond to tenants’ suggestions and complaints about security. If an important component of your security systems breaks, fix it on an emergency basis and provide appropriate alternative security.
  • Be aware of threats to tenants’ security from the manager or other tenants and handle safety and security problems quickly, especially those involving drug dealing.
  • Keep oral and written promises regarding security measures—such as an advertisement promising garage parking or security personnel—to a truthful minimum.   
  • Buy adequate liability insurance to protect you from lawsuits related to crime on the property.
  • Educate tenants about crime problems and prevention strategies, and tenant liability for stolen property and other crimes.
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