Easy ways to make safety a priority

Geoff Roberts
Geoff Roberts | 3 min. read

Published on September 29, 2008

Not only do we all want our tenants to feel safe, but we also want them to actually be safe. The last thing any property manager wants is for a tenant to fall victim to injury, theft, or personal property damage. And, nothing against lawyers, but we don’t really want to be looking at one from across the courtroom.

Every property manager should follow some basic safety tips and procedures to make tenants more safe and avoid that whole lawyer thing. Some helpful frequently asked questions at Nolo.com clearly identify landlord and property owner liability in tenant safety. Whether it’s physical property modifications, rules for behavior, or your selection of services and vendors, just a little goes a long way when it comes to enhancing property safety.

Make sure your safety features actually work.
How are your gated entries functioning? Are some of them blocked due to mechanical failure? Your tenants rented with the expectation of property security, so make sure those gates remain operational. The same goes for all of your security systems. If a tenant calls in a security-related issue or repair, always make sure it’s addressed as quickly as possible. All safety features should be functioning at all times.

Select your vendors carefully.
Whether it’s the trash hauler, heating repair company, or cable installer, investigate your vendors. Use only licensed and bonded contractors and work off referrals whenever possible. Cutting corners with repair companies can create dangerous situations resulting from sub-standard repair practices. Vendors who are not bonded can invite theft or damage to your tenants’ personal property.

Keep up with property repairs and maintenance.
Are any of your stair rails loose or balcony railings unsecure? Are chunks broken out of concrete stairs? Are ground fault interrupter outlets functioning properly? Every time you roll a lease over, perform a walk-through and identify safety hazards.

Do improvements that pay off.
The next time you’re doing major plumbing fixture replacement, consider scald-proof bath fixtures. These fixtures have a protective feature that will not allow full flow of hot water, always introducing enough cold water to moderate the temperature. If you have wooden stair steps, consider Trex when the time comes to replace rotted wood. This man-made material doesn’t rot and is not susceptible to rain or snow damage. (As a testament to its durability, Trex is frequently used for boat docks.)

Install outdoor lighting.
If your tenants park outdoors or have to cross a parking area to get to their units, the area should be well-lit for safety purposes. Enclosed outdoor walkways should also be lit to discourage intruders. Consider installing security cameras not only as a deterrent, but also to provide your tenants with an added degree of comfort.

Be alert and report criminal activity.
Tenants frequently sue landlords for exposure to criminal activity. If you see any suspicious activity such as possible drug dealing (even if it is another tenant), you should report it. Your leases need to be very specific about illegal tenant activity and the fact that any suspicious activity will be reported.

We’re talking mostly common sense here, but it is nonetheless important stuff. Make safety and security as much of a priority as collecting rent—otherwise you may just find a lawyer collecting some money of his own.

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Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

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